DAYTONA -- Going fast has always been part of the Ford Mustang's allure. And doing the right thing has always been a core value of Ford Motor Co.
When you combine the two, you end up with something truly remarkable: A 2011 Ford Mustang GT pacing the Daytona 500, the first Mustang to ever do so. Better still, the actual pace car was auctioned off last month at the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Event in Scottsdale, Ariz., for $300,000.
All proceeds over the manufacturer’s suggested retail price from the pace car auction were earmarked to help cure childhood diabetes through a donation to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Put it all together, and you have a great car leading “The Great American Race” and ultimately making a huge contribution to a great charity. It simply doesn't get much better than that.
The 2011 Mustang GT boast an all-new, 5.0-liter V8 engine that produces an astonishing 412 horsepower, which is about as much power as the NASCAR Sprint Cup cars will have when they race at Daytona this week.
Of course, being out front at Daytona International Speedway isn't exactly new for Ford Motor Co. Matt Kenseth won last year's Daytona 500 in a specially prepared Ford Fusion race car. But this year marks the first time in 40 years that Ford has been selected to pace the most prestigious event in America's most popular form of auto racing.
The last Ford to pace the Daytona 500 was a Ford Torino GT convertible way back in 1970. And a Mustang has never before paced “The Super Bowl of stock-car racing,” making this week truly a momentous event.
“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, director, Ford North America Motorsports. “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.”
The 2011 pace car will be a Race Red, glass roof GT coupe, with an engine that not only adds nearly 100 horsepower over the old V-8, but does so with a best-in-class rating of 25 miles per gallon.
Ford will build 50 special edition Daytona 500 pace cars that will be sold to the public. This one-of-a-kind model will feature 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.
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 high-performance driving enthusiasts, a heavy-duty Brembo brake package, with larger rotors and calipers from the Ford Shelby GT500 Mustang, unique 19-inch wheels and summer performance tires, is offered as an option. Also new for 2011 are special 5.0-liter fender badges.
As performance icons go, it simply doesn't get better than the 2011 Ford Mustang GT.
“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.”