USAC sanctions new Ford Focus midget series

The United States Auto Club and Ford Motor Company have unveiled a new USAC-sanctioned Midget Car series for 2002 and beyond, incorporating a sealed Ford powerplant. The Ford Focus Midget Car Series will encompass some 20 events at...

The United States Auto Club and Ford Motor Company have unveiled a new USAC-sanctioned Midget Car series for 2002 and beyond, incorporating a sealed Ford powerplant. The Ford Focus Midget Car Series will encompass some 20 events at a half-dozen different race tracks in the southern-California area, with sponsorship coming from the Southern California Ford Dealers. This new series will be conducted in addition to the already-existing USAC National and Western Midget Car Series. The cars will utilize a 175-hp, 2-liter Ford Zetec engine, like the one used in the Ford Focus, one of the world's top-selling passenger cars. Engines will be prepared by S.C.R.E.A.M of Torrance, Calif. and provided to racers for an approximate cost of $7,500 each according to USAC VP/Competition Director Mike Devin. The new series marks the first time that a spec engine backed by one of the three big automakers has been utilized in a major open-wheel racing series. "Building this program around the production two-liter Ford Focus Zetec engine made perfect sense, said Ford Racing Technology director Dan Davis. "The engine is such a capable powerplant that the performance was there from the beginning. We didn't need to change anything internally within the engine to get the performance we were after." "Next year (2003), we will see this series in the midwest," added Devin. "We don't know how many dates yet, but we're talking with race organizers. "We're trying to find something where someone can move up the ladder without having to undertake such a technically advanced series. This series fills the gap in terms of providing a cost-effective series for drivers, car entrants and other participants to progress from quarter-midget racing (now under the auspices of USAC which houses the QMA National Headquarters), to the next level and beyond, completing the cycle of progression to major automotive competition. "And a key to this new series is that it utilizes a full-size engine, and the only spec is where the engine sits, so they can run both dirt and pavement. We think there are many participants out there today who have fairly decent equipment, but who can't keep up with the advancement of the engines in the full-size midgets. If they spend $7,500 on this Ford Focus engine and install it in their midget, they have as good a motor as anybody. "We felt it was really important to have factory involvement," adds Devin, "before making this announcement, which culminates a two-year project." Blake Hollingsworth, whose son Shane nearly won this year's USAC Dirt-Track Regional Midget Series title, says the concept has promise. "I'd have to say this concept has merit. If nothing else, look at the number of guys over the past five years who've said they would like to run a midget but the engines were just too expensive. If this is a way to control costs and get more guys involved in midget racing, you have to look at it positively. Ford's Davis added: "The longterm plan for this program is to grow it beyond Southern California. Ideally, we'd like to have a number of regional series eventually competing under a national umbrella with the ultimate goal a national championship." Details as to race dates and other pertinent series factors are continuing to be finalized and will be released when firm.

--USAC--

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