Taurus: It's official

-- WITH PHOTO -- TO AUTO, BUSINESS, AND SPORTS EDITORS: Taurus, Ford's Flagship Car, Set to Compete in NASCAR, America's Flagship Racing Series /ADVANCE FOR RELEASE AT 6 P.M. EDT, TODAY/ ...

-- WITH PHOTO -- TO AUTO, BUSINESS, AND SPORTS EDITORS: Taurus, Ford's Flagship Car, Set to Compete in NASCAR, America's Flagship Racing Series /ADVANCE FOR RELEASE AT 6 P.M. EDT, TODAY/ /ADVANCE/ INDIANAPOLIS, July 30 /PRNewswire/ -- Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) put speculation to rest today by announcing the Ford Taurus as its racing entry for the 1998 NASCAR Winston Cup season. "NASCAR is all about racing cars that the fans can relate to. So it makes sense that the flagship car for Ford Division would compete in the most popular and most exciting racing series in America," said Bob Rewey, group vice president, Ford Marketing, Sales and Service, "Taurus changed the face of the American sedan when we introduced it in 1986. As NASCAR's first full-time, four-door competitor, we expect that it will also change the face of Winston Cup racing." Taurus, the best-selling car in America the past five years, will join a storied line of Ford race cars that have helped the Company win more NASCAR Winston Cup events than any other manufacturer in history. The new car, a four-door, 1998 model, was unveiled at a media reception in the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, just days before the annual Brickyard 400. "This is a very exciting and historic day for our racing program," added Rewey. "The Taurus has been a winner with the public since it was first introduced in 1986, and we expect it to be a winner for our Ford NASCAR teams." In becoming the standard-bearer for Ford in NASCAR, Taurus will replace the Thunderbird, which has carried Ford drivers to 176 Winston Cup victories, five Daytona 500 triumphs, and four championships since its re-introduction to NASCAR in 1978. The Thunderbird production model will cease production at the end of this model year. "We'll have a winner on our hands with Taurus," said Bruce Cambern, director, Ford Special Vehicle Operations (SVO), and the man in charge of the Company's worldwide racing efforts. "Although the Thunderbird has been -- and still is -- a very successful race car as evidenced by the 11 wins so far this season, we feel it's important to race what we sell in the marketplace." "We reviewed several options in determining what NASCAR race car we wanted to take us into the next century, and the Taurus fit all the criteria that we were looking for," Cambern added. "It's the right size, it's got an innovative, aerodynamic shape, and it's a car we believe that NASCAR fans will relate to." "Our primary commitment to our teams is to provide them a competitive race car. We believe we've done that with Taurus." Ford SVO and Ford's Motorsport Technology Department were actively involved in the development of the new Taurus, in conjunction with Penske Racing South in Mooresville, N.C., which fields a Ford for driver Rusty Wallace. Roush Racing, which fields three Ford Thunderbird teams, also assisted in the building process. Many of the other current Ford teams and drivers also offered input. "It's a tribute to our engineers, our new technologies and to the cooperation of our teams that we were able to design and build a new race car in such a short period of time," Cambern said. "But we also couldn't have done this without the cooperation of Bill France, Jr., and his people at NASCAR, who worked with us every step of the way to get this car approved very quickly." The Taurus NASCAR program is also expected to be a hit among Ford dealers, who will see the car for the first time at the annual Dealer Introduction Show in San Diego, Calif., starting Aug. 2. "This is an exciting time for Taurus," said J.C. Collins, Family Brand manager, Ford Division. "We believe that racing Taurus will have a positive impact on our loyal Ford fans. "We feel NASCAR racing will reinforce Taurus' brand image as a leader, both on and off the track. Our dealers are excited about the prospects of Taurus racing, and the opportunities it can provide in promotions and merchandising. It's an All-American car in an All-American racing series." Cambern said that initial track testing of the new vehicle will begin within the next few weeks, with many of the Ford teams and drivers expected to participate in early testing as the new Tauruses are being built. Currently, there are 21 Ford Thunderbird teams competing full-time in Winston Cup racing, SOURCE Ford Motor Company -0- 07/30/97/1800 /CONTACT: Jim Bright of Ford Division Public Affairs Office, 313-446-7730; or Kevin Kennedy of Ford SVO Public Affairs Office, 313-336-0244/ /Photo available on AP PhotoExpress Network (July 30, 3 p.m. EDT, PRN1), via NewsCom, 305-448-8411 or http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/pub/pd/pdz?fPRN/prnphotos&grid2 or via PressLink Online, 703-758-1740. Photo also available on Wieck Photo DataBase, 972-392-0888./ (F) CO: Ford Motor Company; NASCAR; Ford Special Vehicle Operations; Ford Motorsport Technology Department ST: Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina IN: AUT SU: PDT PW-AM -- DEW022 -- 7397 07-30-97 15:00 EDT http://www.prnewswire.com

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Mark Ford