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DEARBORN - @Ford Online sat down with Jamie Allison, director, Ford Racing, to discuss Ford's business decision to end its team sponsorship support programs in the Mello Yello Series at the end of 2014.
Jamie Allison: “Ford and drag racing are inseparable.”
Q: Is Ford Motor Company getting out of drag racing at the end of 2014?
A: No, not at all. Ford and drag racing are inseparable. We have, however, made a business decision to end our team sponsorship support programs in the Mello Yello Series at the end of 2014, but will continue to support NHRA grassroots and sportsman drag racing efforts at a strong level.
We at Ford see the two landscapes of NHRA: the Nitro Pro level and the Enthusiast/Sportsman level. We are just shifting our focus and support toward the production-based sportsman level. That point is very key since we fully intend to support our customers and Ford enthusiasts who buy and race Ford products around the world.
Q. Why, with such a storied history, would Ford leave NHRA Funny Car?
A: It was a very tough decision, especially because of the deep, long-term relationships we have with both the Force and Tasca families over decades. We made a business decision as we evaluated the Pro/Nitro level in the sport this past year, reviewing our investment, the returns from activation, television ratings and overall product/technology relevancy. It is vital that we align our motorsports at Ford to closely match our global products, technologies and customer outreach, especially in this ever-changing automotive world. Again, we want to reinforce Ford’s continued and deep commitment to the roots and foundation of NHRA and drag racing, in the sportsman level in the sport.
Q. How will Ford be supporting the grassroots/sportsman racers?
A: It is important to note we actively support sportsmen and enthusiasts in drag racing, sports car racing, off-road racing, and rallying and many others as a core element of our motorsports and enthusiasts strategy. We develop and support race-prepared cars like the Boss 302R and 302S in sports car racing, in Europe we support privateers rallying in several categories with Fiestas, produced by our partner M-Sport, across all levels, and we have developed a lineup of crate engines for various racing series around the world.
In drag racing, we will continue with production of our highly-successful Mustang Cobra Jet race cars, and will continue to support Ford racers with engines/parts support and contingencies in many of the popular classes.
We have built and sold 200 Cobra Jets so far and we will deliver another 50 this year. We also have the most rewarding contingency program of any manufacturer in drag racing that pays for the success of any Ford, no matter the model year. We offer generous payouts for wins and championships for Cobra Jet racers that are second to none. In addition to NHRA, we also post contingencies in NMRA and NMCA drag racing for our loyal customers.
This is a very important enthusiast and customer base for us, and we look forward to helping those who want to race Fords to do so at this level of the sport.
Q. Is Ford Motor Company lessening its involvement in worldwide racing with this decision, and the previous decision to depart from the World Rally Championship?
A: No, not at all. We are more active than ever around the world in supporting grassroots and enthusiast drag racing, sports and touring car racing, stock car racing, off-road racing, stage rallying, and action sports as part of our overall racing programs.
We review all our motorsports programs regularly to ensure they are relevant and returning good ROI for the company and supporting our outreach to our fans and customers. We’ve upped our NASCAR efforts this season with the addition of Penske Racing in Sprint Cup and Nationwide and also expanded our Global Rallycross program in alignment with the debut of Global X Games earlier this year. Our continued partnership with M-Sport in rally ensures that we offer the latest and most competitive Fiesta in rally with our Ecoboost technology. We are committed to look for motorsport and enthusiasts opportunities that fit with and showcase our global products and technologies.