• Jun 20, 2011
2012 Ford Focus NASCAR pace car – Click above for high-res image gallery

Most pace cars (commonly known as safety cars overseas) are pretty fast road cars. F1 uses a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. The American Le Mans Series, a Porsche Panamera. DTM alternates between an Audi R8 and a Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG. MotoGP uses BMW M vehicles. Indy has used a Chevy Camaro SS the last couple of years. Noticing a pattern here?

Of course, as is true in many other areas, NASCAR does things differently. While other racing disciplines pit the latest technologies against each other on challenging road courses, NASCAR still uses old-school pushrod V8s on big ol' speedways. So it should come as little surprise that the American stock-car racing series goes a different route with its pace cars, too.

This weekend's Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400 (we don't name the races) at the Michigan International Speedway saw the Ford Focus make its debut appearance as the official pace car, complete with race livery and light bar but little in the way of other modifications over stock. Which means, as Ford is quick to point out, that while the stock cars behind it would have to pit a number of times over the 400-mile race distance, the Focus could go the whole way if it needed to... and if the driver – Mark Fields, Ford's president of the Americas – were milking the throttle, undaunted by the grid of rip-roarin' race cars filling his mirrors.

For what it's worth, the Focus is hardly the slowest vehicle to pace a NASCAR race. Ford alone has provided Fusion Hybrids and Explorer SUVs to set the pace at previous races as well. Follow the jump for the full press release, including information on Ford's latest online sweepstakes that will hand out 40 Foci to contest participants if it wins the NASCAR, NHRA or World Rally Championship titles this year.
Show full PR text

ALL-NEW 2012 FORD FOCUS TO SERVE AS PACE CAR FOR THE FIRST TIME DURING NASCAR WEEKEND AT MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY

DEARBORN, Mich. June 15, 2011 – Fuel mileage may be a problem for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers when they come to Michigan International Speedway for this weekend's Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400, but it will be all green-flag conditions for one fuel-sipping car in the field.

The all-new 2012 Ford Focus, which delivers an EPA-certified 40 miles per gallon on the highway, will have more than enough petrol to get the job done when it serves as pace car for the first time at a NASCAR-sanctioned event.

While NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers will need to pit five or six times during the 400-mile race, the 2012 Focus, with its outstanding fuel economy, could go race distance and more, pushing 497 miles (or 248 laps at Michigan International Speedway) before needing to pit.

Mark Fields, Ford's president of The Americas, will be behind the wheel Sunday as the "celebrity" pace car driver.

"Bringing the 43-car field to the green flag will be an honor, but the real highlight of my day will be showing millions of race fans at MIS and across the country how much fun the new Focus is to drive," Fields said. "Focus is delivers on high-speed ovals, challenging, twisty roads and everything in between. This car – built right here in Michigan – is built for people who love to drive."

Focus is Ford's most significant global car with more than 10 million units sold since being launched in 1998.

"When I saw the new Focus, I couldn't believe it," said Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne. "I think this car is going to appeal to a lot of young people like myself because it offers the latest technology and has that sporty look many of us want when we go shopping for a car."

Ford hopes consumers nationwide share Bayne's reaction.

"Just like last year when we unveiled Fiesta as the Michigan pace car, we're using this race as a platform to promote another one of our fun-to-drive, fuel-efficient vehicles," said Jamie Allison, director, Ford Racing. "Focus is a fantastic car that has captured the imagination of consumers everywhere, and we hope our fans are going to like what they see when it hits the track on Sunday."

Ford has been at the forefront of using its NASCAR pace car program to highlight its extensive line of new cars, trucks and sport utility vehicles. This includes being the first company to have Hybrid pace the start of a NASCAR race when the Fusion Hybrid led the field to green for the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2009. In addition, the Mustang GT 5.0L V-8 and all-new 2011 Explorer SUV have served as pace vehicles within the last year.

In addition to being the pace car at MIS this weekend, Focus is also the feature vehicle of a new national on-line sweepstakes in which 40 fans will win the new model if Ford Racing drivers capture the NASCAR Sprint Cup, NHRA Funny Car and World Rally championships. Fans can register for that opportunity at www.Ford40MPG.com.


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 9 Comments
      Lemon
      • 3 Years Ago
      Aussie V8 supercar series = what nascar should be. Big cars, loud v8s, good racing... But they turn both ways and actually have some similarities with their street legal counterparts. Come on America.. We can do better than nascar, cant we?? Please?
        Elmo
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Lemon
        Wrong in every single way. Aussie V8s have absolutely nothing in relation to their production counterparts except for looks and their powertrains. The rest is spec to the sanctioning body. The Holden Commodore's body is fabricated to fit over the chassis, resulting in the dimensions being shorter than the production counterpart. Next year, both Ford and Holden race teams will be using one single engine produced by an engine manufacturer produced outside of Ford and GM.
        Elmo
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Lemon
        Oh and NASCAR also runs on road courses. Please research before trying to insult NASCAR.
        Drew
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Lemon
        Nascar actually sounds like your dream series right now.... Big cars: check loud V8s: check good racing: check turn both ways: check No real similarities with the street cars, but neither do the Aussie V8s. Maybe you should check out this weekend's races. The top tier Sprint Cup series is at Sears Point and the 2nd tier series is at Road America.
      goVintage
      • 3 Years Ago
      This is ridiculous - it would be bad enough to use a Taurus SHO, let alone an econobox. Come-on Ford, what no Mustangs available?
        Elmo
        • 3 Years Ago
        @goVintage
        It's called advertising a NEW model. Not 2 models that have been out for quite some time.
      AC2RC
      • 3 Years Ago
      Unfortunately that's the special fuel saver model , 40mpg , rather than the Focus ST.The ST should be the only one associated with racing !!
      rocketmoose
      • 3 Years Ago
      Two things I don't like about the new Focus in terms of design: the weird triangular grille thing going on at the front, and the way the rear lights stretch cartoonishly to the sides. The Focus ST is faster and fixes the front. Why doesn't Ford try to associate that with racing instead of the bog-standard Focus?