Ford Announces Ride Along Program

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 17, 1998) The Ford Motor Company will pull the wraps off a new ride-along program March 25, offering members of the news media the opportunity to experience first-hand the speed and excitement of racing in...

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 17, 1998) The Ford Motor Company will pull the wraps off a new ride-along program March 25, offering members of the news media the opportunity to experience first-hand the speed and excitement of racing in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

The automaker will debut a race-modified Ford F-150 truck, equipped with a passenger seat, at the Miami-Dade Homestead Motor Sports Complex to a select group of South Florida sports, business and automotive writers, television reporters and radio personalities.

Each guest, after donning helmet and racing gear, will buckle into the race truck's "second seat" and receive a 100 mph-plus view of the 1.5-mile superspeedway, compliments of NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series veteran Joe Ruttman. The 53-year-old Ruttman, one of NASCAR's fastest racing grandfathers, won five series races in 1997, finished third in the final standings and holds the Miami-Dade Homestead track record at over 140 mph.

The Miami-area outing marks the beginning of a series of two-seater demonstrations, to be held at NASCAR venues throughout the United States, most of them in conjunction with events on the 1998 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series schedule. The Miami-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex will host the tour's next event, the April 4 Florida Dodge Dealers 400, which will be broadcast by TNN: The Nashville Network (5 p.m. EST) and the radio affiliates of the NASCAR Truck Network.

"We're pleased, as part of our 50th Anniversary season, to extend the feel of high-speed NASCAR racing to media members so that they, in turn, can better convey to their readers, viewers and listeners what it's really like out there in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series," Brian France, NASCAR Vice President for Marketing and Corporate Communications, said. "The support of Ford in this program is much appreciated, especially since the F-Series -- the official truck of NASCAR -- also turned 50 in 1998."

The first F-Series truck, which rolled off Ford's Norfolk, Va., assembly line in January 1948, hardly was designed as a race vehicle -- let alone one that would blast around a NASCAR venue like the Texas Motor Speedway, where Mike Bliss set the all-time NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series lap record of more than 175 mph in Ultra Racing's Team ASE Ford.

The F-150 has continued to evolve, in styling as well as speed, as America's changing vehicle requirements have made it the nation's No. 1 seller. This burgeoning love affair with the light truck was among reasons why the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series was created, in 1995, and drew nearly one million spectators last season, according to a Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. survey.

"Ford and NASCAR have established an excellent working relationship on and off the track," said Dan Davis, director, Ford Special Vehicle Operations, and head of Ford's worldwide racing program. "Since the F-Series truck line and NASCAR are both celebrating historic 50th anniversaries this year, it was only fitting that we celebrate together with a unique program like this."

Ruttman and the media members also will tour the Homestead track in a standard F-150 truck. The higher-speed laps will follow the orientation, during which Ruttman's voice won't be drowned by the roar of the race truck's open exhaust.

"Once you get into the race truck, it's definitely sit down and hold on," said Ruttman. "I don't think anyone would expect me to be making a speech or pointing out the scenery while we're sliding through a turn, anyway -- or would they want me to! Seriously, we're looking forward to having a lot of fun and delivering an experience our guests won't soon forget."

Other top NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competitors, who also drive Ford trucks, are expected to participate in future two-seat truck demonstrations.

Source: NASCAR Online

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Joe Ruttman , Mike Bliss