It’s official. Ford announced today the 2011 Mustang GT 5.0 will be the pace car for the Nascar season-opener, marking the first time in 40 years the Blue Oval has lead the pack at the Daytona 500 and the Mustang’s debut performance in the role. And before the car even hits the track, Barrett-Jackson will auction the car to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
The GT carries the revamped 5.0 V-8 engine, and the Ford boys are pumped. “Having the opportunity to pace America’s biggest auto race with a Ford icon like the 2011 Mustang GT is truly an honor,” said Jamie Allison, Ford North America Motorsports director. “And to have the new 5.0-liter engine powering the car will be a great way to demonstrate its power and class-leading fuel economy.”
OK, so they had to get the pitch in, but it’s legit, with 412 horsepower on tap at 25 highway miles per gallon, barely sipping fuel at these power numbers. The glass-roof coupe is wearing a fetching Race Red ensemble, set off by a special Daytona 500 paint scheme, Ford Racing suspension, strut tower brace and mufflers, unique painted wheels, and special interior treatment, including specially branded lit sill plates.
“Everybody loves Mustang,” Allison continued. “That was evident last year from the fan reaction when we announced it was going to be our new model in the NASCAR Nationwide Series starting later this year. This is just another way to showcase a true American icon in its most natural environment.”
Ford last ran with the Daytona wolves in 1970, when a Ford Torino GT convertible brought the stack cars up to speed. Cale Yarborough was on the pole, with Buddy Baker in the No. 2 spot. Other legends followed the Ford to the green; Bobby Allison, A.J. Foyt. Pete Hamilton won the race, pocketing $44,850 for his 3 hours and 20 minutes at the wheel.
Another legend was there, too. Richard Petty, driving his familiar 43 Plymouth, qualified 11th in 1970, and retired after seven laps. This year, Petty’s backing a pony, and he’ll cement his new relationship Jan. 23 when he presides over the auction of the one-of-a-kind pace car at the annual Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale Collector Car Auction, which is taking place in Scottsdale, Ariz. All proceeds over the manufacturer’s suggested retail price from the pace car auction will go to help cure childhood diabetes through a donation to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
About the 2011 Mustang GT
The new Mustang GT continues Ford’s powertrain offensive with an all-new 5.0-liter V-8, which uses advanced technology to deliver 412 horsepower and projected unsurpassed highway mileage of 25 mpg.
The 2011, Mustang GT adds specially tuned Electric Power Assist Steering (EPAS), 11.5-inch front and 11.8-inch rear vented disc brakes, and an enhanced suspension featuring an improved rear lower control arm and stiffened rear stabilizer bushings.
For enthusiasts, a Brembo brake package, with larger rotors and calipers from the Ford Shelby GT500® Mustang, unique 19-inch wheels and summer performance tires, is offered; new fender badges herald return of the 5.0-liter engine.
— Ken Simmons