Dear Ford Racing Fans:
As we approach the holidays, it's a tradition that the Director pens a year-end review of the season--a State of the Program, so to speak.
That said, I'm here to do just that, but also to make an announcement that as of Jan. 1, 2010, Jamie Allison will be taking on the role of director, Ford North America Motorsports as I move on to a global position within Ford Product Development.
Many of you already know Jamie, who has been a big part of the Ford Racing management team for six years and will welcome him in his new role. He loves Ford and motorsports, and will be a great leader for the team.
Your support and encouragement over the last 18 months has been incredible and will be part of my fondest memories for my time at Ford. I know you will support Jamie's efforts as much as you have mine.
It has truly been a great privilege and a highlight of my near 28 years at Ford to have had the opportunity to oversee this program. I will miss the teams, drivers, interfaces with the sanctioning bodies, and discussions with the media, but most of all, I'll miss the interactions with you Ford fans.
Looking back, we have had a good 2009, but it would have been great one if our NASCAR performance was stronger. Still, we have a lot to celebrate as we review this past season.
First off, this really has been a Year of the Mustang.
Ford captured Mustang championships with Robert Hight in NHRA Funny Car (and had all six drivers in the Countdown), Ken Wilden and Rehagen Racing in the Grand-Am Koni Challenge, and Brandon Davis in Speed World Challenge GT.
In addition, we successfully launched the 2008 Cobra Jet Mustang when John Calvert piloted the Hajek Motorsports 2008 Cobra Jet Mustang to a win at the NHRA Winter Nationals in Pomona. Brent Hajek and his Hajek Motorsports team also took an E-85 Mustang to record speed runs at Talladega with Bill Elliott and at Bonneville with Danny Thompson. In addition, Steve Benyo of Team Saline took a production Mustang to a new record speed of 253.428 mph at Bonneville.
In addition, we unveiled the NASCAR Nationwide Mustang to great reviews in October, and can't wait for its racing debut in July 2010.
Certainly, we were disappointed with our overall performance in NASCAR this year, but it was not a year without some highlights.
Matt Kenseth captured Ford's first Daytona 500 win since 2000, and Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards represented Ford in the Chase. Carl also finished second in the Nationwide standings, and Colin Braun finished fifth in the Truck standings, but captured his first victory of his career as he moves on to Nationwide next season.
And we successfully launched the new FR9 NASCAR engine in both a restrictor plate and open track configuration, as we move to a full rollout of the engine in 2010.
With the help of Cunningham Motorsports and Larry Morgan Racing, Ford Racing's Mose Nowland developed the first new Ford NHRA Pro Stock engine in years. In fact, Mose developed two Pro Stock engines, both sequential port and mirror port designs, and it made its debut in test sessions at the NHRA Auto Club Finals at Pomona.
We also designed and released a 2010 Pro Stock Mustang body that has the best aerodynamic characteristics on the track, not to mention being the best looking Pro Stock car, in my opinion. It debuted at the NHRA U.S. Nationals and Jim Cunningham was awarded Best Engineered car of the event.
Next year, we expect five full-time 2010 Mustangs in NHRA Pro Stock, and several other teams joining as the season progresses.
We also increased our emphasis on sportsman/grassroots racing.
The new 2010 Cobra Jet was introduced and sold out. Based on feedback we got from many of you racers at a series of grassroots "town hall" meetings during the year, we expect this car will be even more race-ready than the 2008 Cobra Jet was.
We also announced last week at PRI a renewed commitment to circle track racers, with a series of sealed racing engines and contingency programs to help those running Fords.
And our first foray into Mustang Competition kits, where you can buy body-in-whites, along with interior and exterior kits, for drag or sports car racing, was such a success we'll do it again in 2010.
We also announced a new Boss 302-R Mustang turn-key race car, which will have a limited production run of 50 units, just like the Cobra Jet Mustang. The Boss 302-R is designed for SCCA, NASA, and an enhanced version which will run in the Grand-Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge series (formerly Koni) starting in 2010.
The team also announced our plans to build the ultimate Off-Road Pre-Runner: The Raptor XT, which will also have a limited production of 50 units. This is one very cool truck and there is nothing like it available from any manufacturer.
The Raptor XT came about from our development of the SVT F-150 Raptor R race truck, which competed this year in the Best in the Desert Series.
On the marketing side, we came to a new agreement with NHRA for Official Car and Truck, that will see a larger Ford presence at all events next season. We also had outstanding on-line sweepstakes promotions with our drivers with We Race. You Win and I'm Driving One--Taurus, as we continue our role in assisting Ford sell more cars.
Ford Racing also had the opportunity to help with the North American launch of the very exciting Ford Fiesta, that will be in dealer's showrooms next year, with the Olsberg team coming to the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb and taking a second place finish in the unlimited category, and following that up with a very impressive 1-3-4 finish at the 2009 X-Games. Who could think of a better way to re-introduce the Fiesta to North America than a winning motorsports program?
As many of us that have a deep pride in Ford and enjoy motorsports, we know we use the sport as a way to generate excitement about the Ford product line and improve favorable opinion of Ford. We get so excited about Ford, we all use our social circles to get more and more people into Ford dealers to Drive One.
With Ford's unsurpassed quality, class-leading fuel economy, more five-star crash ratings than any other manufacturer, along with driving dynamics that make our cars a riot to drive, we know once they get into a Ford, they will choose one. Please continue to be our best ambassadors for the best vehicles on the road ... we really need all your help!
As I move on to my new assignment at Ford, I want all of you to know how much I appreciated the chance to lead this program, but more importantly, how much I enjoyed meeting and hearing from so many of you who 'bleed blue' like I do.
You are our customers--both in cars and truck purchases for the street ... as well as for cars, parts and pieces that help your Ford go faster on the track. Your feedback is important to us, and I know you will continue to support Jamie and his team as they go forward.
Again, it's been my pleasure to be able to take on a job that blended my passion for Ford and my passion for racing. I hope to see you at a track in the future.
All the best and Happy Holidays!