Buying one of the new 2024 Ford Mustangs will come with a variety of perks, including a free “Track Attack” performance driving program at Charlotte International Raceway, the automaker revealed during an event at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Ford also plans to launch a series of “real-world” and virtual “experiences,” to help Mustang owners feel like they’re part of a global community, officials said.
“The Ford Mustang is all about two things: its community of passionate fans and racing. We’re combining those qualities and giving owners the opportunity to learn some of the same skills our racing drivers will take to Daytona and Le Mans next year,” said Matt Simpson, general manager for Enthusiast Vehicles. “And they’ll do so alongside their fellow enthusiasts.”
Everywhere but Antarctica
Since the original 1964-1/2 pony car debuted at the New York World’s Fair, Mustang has built a loyal following, with fan clubs on six of the seven continents. Ford has even considered dropping a Mustang into Antarctica, brand manager Jim Owens revealed.
He noted Ford wants to amp up owner involvement with a variety of new experiences that will include “digital portals” allowing them to connect with clubs, professional drivers, influencers and others. And it will be launching a series of “real-world experiences,” Owens added, such as music programs.
But what could be the real draw for potential Mustang buyers is the addition of new track-based driving schools. That includes the day-and-a-half-long “Dark Horse: Track Attack” to be run out of Charlotte Motor Speedway. Ford promises to have “champion” racers among the driving instructors.
“This event starts with an evening reception at the CMS Champion’s Club, overlooking the track, and then the next day expands into classroom and on-track instruction,” the automaker said in a statement.
This includes learning how to utilize the Dark Horse’s no-lift-shift system and taking to the skid pad and autocross. Owners will then put their newfound skills to the test in lead-follow lapping on the fearsome Charlotte Roval with three 20-minute sessions, followed by a hot lap with the instructors in the driver’s seat.
The driving program itself will be free, though participants will need to make their own hotel and travel arrangements.
Other Mustang buyers won’t be left out. Ford plans to offer a similar program for Mustang EcoBoost and GT buyers, though it has yet to reveal specific details.
A closer look at the Mustang GTD
During the Mustang event at the Detroit Auto Show, Ford CEO Jim Farley also offered up some new insights into the Mustang GTD, the $300,000 supercar it plans to roll out in 2025. The limited-edition coupe began almost by accident, Farley deciding to see if his team could come up with a street-legal version of Ford’s next-generation GT3 race car.
If anything, it offers “all of the tech of the race car but we put it on the street,” he said Wednesday evening. But that’s only half the story. The GTD actually gets a number of features that aren’t allowed under the rules for the GT3 race series, including active aerodynamics. And, at a minimum 800 horsepower, the GTD is expected to make at least 300 hp more than the racer.
“You know we’re going way past that,” said Larry Holt, the “mad genius” chief technology officer for Manumatic, the Canadian firm that is helping bring the GTD to market. If anything, he suggested, tuners like Hennessey could get the power “up to 1,300” hp before they’re done with it.
From track to street? Maybe the other way around this time
There’s still a lot of development work to be done before the GTD goes into production. But Farley noted that it almost didn’t happen. “Two times the project stopped, and we weren’t sure it would go through,” he said.
One of the critical challenges was making the car’s active aero system — including a huge rear wing and front flaps — work as hoped for, noted Holt. With the aero system active it’s a completely different car, he stressed.
In its final form, Farley said he expects the Mustang GTD to be a true world-beater, taking on some of the world’s most exotic brands. That’s in line with his earlier comments that, “I want to see Porsche, I want to see Mercedes, I want to see Aston Martin sweat.”
Automakers routinely defend the money on racing, declaring that what they learn on the track eventually winds up influencing the technology that goes into retail vehicles. In the case of the GTD, said Farley, it has even more technology than Ford’s GT3. And eventually “all of it can trickle down” into production.