Ford Armada Invades Daytona
I happen to be a Ford guy, simply because the first car I remember was the old blue Ford my dad bought brand spankin' new in Memphis, TN to move our family out to Phoenix, AZ in the summer of 1956. It was a six-cylinder, impossible to stop tank that doubled as a solar-powered, all-metal, mobile convection oven from May through September.
That was one great car.
My interest in racing started about the time Jimmy Clark and his Lotus Fords were changing the face of Indy car racing and when Don Prudhomme, Connie Kalitta and Sneaky Pete Robinson were running SOHC Ford top fuel dragsters; when Carroll Shelby created his Cobras and when Mario won the Daytona 500 and when Dan Gurney showed everyone the real way to celebrate with champagne.
We had a Ford. Fords were winning races. So I became a Ford racing fan.
Today, almost fifty years later I remain a staunch supporter of Ford Motor Company and I certainly follow Ford's racing endeavors with great interest.
Like this Saturday's 50th Anniversary Rolex 24 at Daytona, where Big Blue will be competing in all four Grand-Am Road Racing Series divisons.
I'm both hoping and expecting the Roush-Yates Ford-powered Daytona Prototypes do well, and not just because I started a bunch in my fantasy league. Yes, I'd like to see bodywork that says Mustang or Fusion or Focus the way the new Corvette sheetmetal screams Chevrolet's performance brand but I'll take a win anyway, from either the Doran, Krohn, Michael Shank or Starworks teams.
I like the fact that Rick Ware, former NASCAR stalwart who runs "The Biggest Little Team in Motorsports" has entered a Mustang in the Rolex GT class to compete against the best from BMW, Ferrari, GM, Porsche and Mazda. It may not contend for the win but it'll definitely get some press as the only Mustang in the field with Jeffrey Earnhadt, grandson of the Intimidator, as one of the drivers.
Ford Racing's best chance at an overall victory this weekend might be in the Continental Tire Series 200 on Friday, when more than a dozen Grand Sport Mustangs, either Boss 302Rs or GTs, will take the green flag for 200 miles of close-to-what-we-actually-drive racing action on Friday. After the first practice session two Roush Performance entries are at the top of the speed charts, one of them driven by Billy Johnson and Jack Roush Jr., last year's runnersup in the Grand Sport championship. I'm picking them too.
The ST class, which runs with the GS cars the same way the GT's race with the Daytona Prototypes in the Rolex Series, has a newcomer this year -- the Multimatic Motorsports Ford Focus ST-R driven by James Gue and Gunnar Jeannette. A win would definitely be an upset but how cool that the series finally has an American 'Street Tuner' entry to compete against the (so far) all dominant riceburners and European cars.
Ford is the only manufacturer that's entered in each class in both Daytona races this weekend.
I like that. I want them to do well. Just like I want the new Fusions and Mustangs to win in NASCAR; like I want a Mustang to win another Funny Car championship and a Wally for a Pro Stock Mustang. And I especially want to see John Force Racing's new Ford-powered Top Fuel car start making runs in competition. Almost as much as I want to see Ford back in IndyCar.
Like I said. I'm a Ford guy.