Ford drifts closer to motorsports of the future
Ford has announced that it will be an official partner of Formula Drift through the 2013 season. If you haven’t heard of Formula Drift you may not be a make between the ages of 18 and 34. Let us explain why Formula Drift is part of Ford’s racing program. Fans of auto racing enjoy seeing their cars race. The dream is that the car in the garage that has a similar shape and similar drivetrain to the one on the track, and therefore on the TV screen, is similar enough that when the fan drives it they feel like part of the team. Since NASCAR moved to a common tube-frame body that dream has been harder to realize. Also, the racing Ford Fusion with its V8 and rear-wheel drive set-up has almost zero commonality to the Fusion available to buyers, which is a front drive platform that only comes with 4 cylinder engines. This may be one reason why Ford sponsors other racing series.
Formula drift actually uses Ford products that are rear drive and have V8 engines. Even more exciting for the viewer is that the rear drive platform is put to good use in drift. Drifting can be described as driving a car in a power over-steer situation. Ford vehicles are no stranger to Formula Drift and in fact in 2010 a Mustang GT won the championship and a Mustang is currently leading the series.
Drifting was popularized by enthusiasts driving import tuner cars that were compact, affordable, sporty and, rear-wheel drive such as the Nissan 240SX. These cars were able to be easily modified to produce more power than factory supplied. Later, Toyota Supras, Nissan 350Zs, Honda S2000s, and Hyundai Genesis Coupes became common drift cars as the sport grew. Ford, and also enthusiasts, realized that the Mustang is a great drift car and Ford decided it should be involved in a racing series that its import competitors, with a large following, were coming to dominate. The much maligned live rear axle found in the Mustang GT is actually a better set-up than an independent rear suspension in terms of controlled over-steer and the Mustang’s V8 has power to spare. Formula Drift estimates that 87 percent of its fan base is between the ages of 18 and 34. That is an important demographic to Ford.
Formula Drift is just one more way in which Ford can reach an enthusiast audience that might consider a Mustang GT, Raptor, or Focus ST when shopping for their next daily driver.
Video Courtesy of Youtube.com and FordRacingTV