NHRA Puts John Force's New Mustang on Hold

This weekend, at the NHRA National drag racing event in Maple Grove, PA, Castrol Ford Mustang Funny Car driver John Force was scheduled to debut the new 1999 Ford Mustang Funny Car in competition. However, the debut has been delayed following a...

This weekend, at the NHRA National drag racing event in Maple Grove, PA, Castrol Ford Mustang Funny Car driver John Force was scheduled to debut the new 1999 Ford Mustang Funny Car in competition.

However, the debut has been delayed following a controversial ruling last week by the NHRA which, in effect, has put the new car on hold until the start of the next season.

This Sept. 9 ruling came just five days following NHRA's approval of the '99 Mustang for competition at Maple Grove, and six days following the public introduction of Ford's new Mustang in Nashville, Tenn.

Several other facts of note:

* The ruling also came two days after a meeting between the NHRA, Ford, Chrysler and General Motors, in which Chrysler and GM expressed concern about the '99 Mustang Funny Car body running in 1998.

* John Force has been expressing to the NHRA his concern about the Mustang's aero deficiencies since last September.

* The NHRA introduced new rules providing aero parity for 1999 model year Funny Cars and tied the rule to the public introduction of these new cars.

* The 1998 Ford Mustang Funny Car bodywork has less downforce than those run by Chevrolet and Pontiac competitors, and the 1999 Mustang Funny Car body, under new rules created by NHRA, would be equivalent to the current Chevrolet and Pontiac Funny Cars.

LEE HAMKINS, NHRA Program Manager, Ford Special Vehicle Operations -- "All of us at Ford, and I'm sure, all of John Force's fans, are very disappointed by the NHRA's reversal of its newly published rules last week, which disallows the introduction of the new 1999 Mustang Funny Car this weekend at Maple Grove.

"The NHRA's decision eliminates John Force's ability to race for the 1998 championship with aerodynamic capability equal to the competition, a concern he has expressed since last September. It also delays Ford's ability to promote, through NHRA drag racing, the 1999 Mustang that was formally introduced to the public Sept. 3 in Nashville.

"After a super effort by everyone involved, particularly the people at Roush Industries Inc., and the use of valuable resources to prepare a new race car for concurrent introduction with the 1999 Mustang production car, this is indeed very discouraging.

"Unfortunately, this decision suggests that NHRA drag racing is not be a venue that Ford can count on to promote products like the Mustang, a brand that has established much of its heritage from motorsports -- and drag racing in particular -- as well as the acceptance of millions of performance-oriented enthusiasts."

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Series NHRA
Drivers John Force