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Auto blogSun, 11 Aug 2013 08:52:00 EST
As the smallest team in the sport, it wasn't really a surprise when Dodge decided to pull out of NASCAR, but Autoweek is reporting that Ford is looking to pull the plug on its professional-level NHRA sponsorships following the 2014 season. With attendance and television ratings down, the article reports that Ford is just backing out of the top series but will remain active in the Sportsman classes of racing, which are geared more toward the grassroots and semi-professional racers.
This means that one of drag racing's biggest names, John Force, will be left looking for new sponsorship after next season. Force, 64, has been with Ford for 17 years, winning 15 championships in that time and winning almost half of all Funny Car events in his Mustang since he started working with Ford in 1997, but after 2014, there could be some big shakeups at John Force Racing.
According to the report, Force would consider is moving over to the Top Fuel dragster series, although he could also move to another manufacturer to remain in the Funny Car series. With Ford on the way out, this leaves just Toyota and Dodge as the remaining active automakers in the highest levels of drag racing.
Ford showcased more than a dozen customized 2015 Mustangs at its sprawling 20,000-square foot display this week at the Las Vegas Convention Center as the iconic pony car's 50th anniversary celebration continued at the SEMA Show.
While Mustangs are always a hot commodity at SEMA, the new generation brought increased attention from the aftermarket, as builders like Galpin Auto Sports, Richard Petty's Garage and Vaughn Gittin Jr. offered their takes on the new 'Stang.
The extensive display included a range of Mustangs from mild to wild, with everything from a 600-plus horsepower King Cobra pictured at the top, to paint-and-wheel packages. The new regal Cobra, which we spied early in our SEMA adventure this year, may not be the replacement for the Cobra Jet as we speculated, but it does seem to point the way forward for the next iteration of a supreme Ford dragster. Fat drag slicks out back make it's reason for being abundantly clear, and for tells us that modded car is good for a 10.97-second quarter-mile run.
When one speaks of sporty and fun-to-drive utility vehicles, few would put the Ford Explorer in the same category as the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8, BMW X5 or Porsche Cayenne. Yet, with just a few reservations, I'd toss the new-for-2013 Ford Explorer Sport close to that arena for consideration.
As a recap, the sportiest of Explorers is fitted with Ford's twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter Ecoboost V6, making 365 horsepower and 350 pound feet of torque. Acceleration is brisk (figure about 7 seconds to 60 miles per hour), as power goes to all four wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. Contributing to its more athletic demeanor are larger front brakes, a sport-tuned suspension, chassis upgrades, quicker steering ratio and a more aggressive wheel/tire package. Cosmetically, the Sport is distinguished by its blacked-out lights, black trim and noticeable lack of chrome (with the exception of the door handles).
Ford recently handed me the keys to a Ruby Red Metallic Explorer Sport. Rather than mindlessly drive the big seven-passenger all-wheel drive hauler in soccer mom circles around Los Angeles, I loaded up my family and embarked on a long weekend road trip to Yosemite National Park.