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DEARBORN – First it was the media, and now the race fans.
After being unveiled as part of the Charlotte Motor Speedway annual media tour on Jan. 24, the 2013 NASCAR Fusion – much like the 2013 Fusion production car - has had a steady stream of positive publicity for its sleek and sporty design.
Those reviews continued throughout the recently concluded Daytona Speedweeks, where the car went on public display for the first time alongside its production counterpart. But what made these comments most meaningful is that they came from people who sit in the grandstands and follow the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series – the race fans.
“When they were bringing out the Car of Tomorrow, all of the cars looked the same and you couldn’t tell what different manufacturer you had. The lines were too harsh and it didn’t look like a race car anymore, especially when you compared it to several years ago,” said Kimberly from Kissimmee, Fla. “Back then you could tell what the cars were. You knew what car Mark Martin was in. You knew what car Dale Earnhardt was in.
“But as they brought out the Car of Tomorrow they all looked the same and you couldn’t tell a Ford from a Chevy. This brings that back. The lines are nice and it looks like what we can go into the showroom and buy on Monday after the race.”
As part of a major Ford Racing display outside the Daytona International Speedway, fans had the opportunity to get a close-up look at the entire Ford vehicle lineup, but the all-new 2013 Fusion was front-and-center.
“I really like the similarity of this car with the actual Ford product because it looks more like a stock car and it looks real fast,” said Joe from Gainesville, Fla. “We used to love to watch the stock cars in the old days with Bobby Allison and Richard Petty and they would actually work on the real car that you could get from your dealership.
“We haven’t been doing that much lately, but I think this gets closer to what the real stock car looks like. I’ve enjoyed what’s happened in the Nationwide Series, where we have Mustang racing. I actually own a Mustang, so I enjoy seeing a Mustang go around the track.”
All of that is music to the ears of Ford Racing Director Jamie Allison, who is in his third year running the program and has overseen the transformation to the NASCAR Nationwide Series Mustang and now the all-new Fusion.
“Everything we do at Ford, whether it’s product design, technology evolution, or what we do on the race track, is done by listening to our fans and the fans have spoken,” said Allison. “Our research shows that one-third of all new car buyers are fans, and those fans basically love and buy more Fords.
“What they’ve told us all along is that if the cars on the track are like the cars in their driveway, then when we win on Sunday, we end up selling on Monday because there’s a direct correlation,” added Allison. “So we do this because it’s in our DNA and it’s in our blood. We started the company on racing, but we also do it because we want to stay close to our fans, who see our product on display, root for it on the track, and then show up on Monday at the dealership to buy.”
One of those who couldn’t wait to root for the car to get on track next year was Jim from Orlando, Fla.
“It’s awesome. I’ve been waiting for years for cars to get back to looking like cars. I like the new design of the grille and from the side it looks like it’s going fast already,” he said. “The cars today look like a race car because of all the decorations, but this looks like a race car all by itself without any of that stuff. Every car on the track looked alike for a while, but now everybody is going back to where a Ford will look like a Ford, and I like that idea.”