Exciting Future For Ford

As Ford races into the future, the manufacturer has some exciting things ahead both on and off the track.

Not only is Ford rolling out new products to the consumer, but it will put its iconic Ford Mustang on the NASCAR circuit in 2010 along with additional cars in the Petty-Yates merger, plus continue the development of the FR9 engine.

One way Ford helps market its current and future consumer and racing products is through their successful sponsorship deal of Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, which ended the NASCAR season three weeks ago.

Since 2002, Homestead-Miami has hosted the season finales for all three of NASCAR top divisions. Currently, Ford is in the middle of a lucrative 10-year deal with the south Florida track.

"It's very special to Ford," said Tim Duerr, NASCAR Marketing Manager for Ford Racing North America Motorsports. "Obviously we thought so back in 2004 when we signed a 10-year agreement with ISC and Homestead-Miami Speedway. What it allows us to do is talk about Ford Championship weekend all season long. We go to Daytona and everybody is focused on winning the Daytona 500 but they're also focused on getting off on the right foot to go all the way towards Ford Championship weekend.

"It's an opportunity for us to talk about the year-end events throughout the season because it's our Super Bowl event. It's in a great location - Homestead-Miami - obviously the NFL thinks so, they play a lot of super bowls down here. We are thrilled to be a part of the big weekend and promote it all year long with ISC and the track."

Each year Ford sets up a huge display in the fan midway at Homestead to showcase their whole family of products. This year's display was 30,000 square feet and it held new products that are not even available to the public yet like the all new 2011 Super Duty.

"We think it's the premiere display at all NASCAR tracks nationwide," Duerr said. "The new Fiesta was there, a very exciting car that Ford will launch mid-year next year. It's a 2011 model. It's a small C-Class car that gets about 45 miles to the gallon. It just looks great. Everybody will love it once it's out on the road.

"It's an opportunity for us to showcase these great products to some die-hard race fans that attend the race. It just gives the fans a great place to hang out prior to the race and also learn a lot about Ford's great products."

Along with interactive exhibits in the display, Ford also brings out their drivers for Q&A sessions, some of which were hosted by RacingOne's Pete Pistone. Some of the guests this season included Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, NHRA Funny Car champion Robert Hight and Grand Marshal Mike Rowe, who is the host of "Dirty Jobs."

Also on the Q&A stage was the new Ford Mustang Nationwide Series car that will make its debut at Daytona International Speedway in July 2010.

"We're excited that Mustang is going to be racing in NASCAR next year," Duerr said. "Mustang's had a lot of heritage. We've been winning races with Mustang for 45 years. It is the true epitome of a hot rod, a pony car. So we've elected to bring it to NASCAR."

One car that was successful in the NASCAR ranks, the Ford Taurus, recently made a triumphant return to the marketplace.

"The Taurus has been a home run for us, especially the Taurus SHO with that unique six-cylinder engine, its 365-horsepower, twin turbo, fuel injection, just an exciting car teamed up with an all-wheel drive powertrain," Duerr said. "It's the safest car on the American road today. We're thrilled about that."

But don't except the Taurus to return to the track, replacing the Fusion, anytime soon.

"Fusion is our volume leader at Ford," Duerr said. "We're happy to say that Fusion is now in the top 10 in national sales, which is the first time Ford's had a car in that category. It's the first time there's been a domestic car in that category in the top 10 in a long time. We just won Motor Trend's prestigious 'Car of the Year' with Fusion. It's done extremely well for us. We're very proud of what the Ford Fusion has brought to the family of Ford products. We'll continue to race that in the Sprint Cup Series because that is our volume leader, that's the car we want to showcase."

Next season the Fusions on the track will be utilizing the new FR9 engine more, but a complete roll out has not been determined.

"We have a lot of obsolescence with the old engine and the old engine's been running extremely well," Duerr said. "There's no sense just scrapping all those engines. We're still planning on using them. We're competitive with them, and we'll be just as competitive with the new FR-9. There are some definitely different features with the engine, but we're taking our time. We're just doing it the way it should be done. Especially with the economy as the scale that is out there right now, we're still very focused on being as efficient as we can from a company standpoint."

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