…as the pace car, of course
By Will Dron on April 18, 2012 11:27 AM
Ford’s forthcoming pure-electric Focus will become the first ever electric pace car for a NASCAR Sprint Cup race when it leads the field to the green flag for the Richmond 400 race on 28 April.
As pace car, the 2012 Ford Focus Electric’s duties will be to circle the track at pit road speed during the warm-up laps. It could then brought out of the pits at any time during the 400-lap race to slow the pack if there has been an accident and the yellow caution flags are being waved.
At first glance this might be an odd tie-up – an electric car with a top speed of 84mph leading the field a field of gas-guzzling 200mph Stock cars in front of an audience of dyed-in-the-wool petrolheads. Ford’s usual choice for the role is a Mustang – pure muscle. Do NASCAR fans really care about alternatively fuelled vehicles? Jamie Allison, director of Ford Racing, seems to think so.
“Our fans are customers," said Allison. “And just like in racing, they expect both fuel economy and performance from their daily drivers, and that’s what Ford is delivering.”
However true that may be, NASCAR is without doubt a massive platform to promote a new car. The sport is second only to American Football in the sports TV ratings stakes across the Pond, claiming 75 million fans.
Ford was also the first manufacturer to use a hybrid as a NASCAR pace car when the Fusion Hybrid paced the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2008.