When you've got the most powerful factory V8 in the world, even the best driver can struggle with getting that power to the pavement. The 662 horsepower and 631 pound-feet of torque the 2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 is packing can easily turn its rear tires into expensive clouds of smoke. That's why the 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 is the first Shelby Mustang to be factory-equipped with launch control. "With so much more power and torque on tap from the new 5.8-liter V8," says SVT senior engineer John Pfeiffer, "launch control makes it easier for drivers to take advantage of the performance." What's different about the Shelby GT500s launch control is that drivers can engage it by just pressing a single button, and it's also capable of being fine-tuned for the best reesults.

Launch control is by now a familiar technology, with systems operating by holding engine RPM at a set point to help facilitate clean, repeatable launches. "Launch control is essentially a special mode of the traction control system that integrates the brake and engine management systems to keep the tires balanced on the peak of the mu-slip curve," explains SVT's Pfeiffer. In plain English, it's designed to send as much torque to the tires as they can handle. What's different about the system in the 2013 GT500 is its flexibility. "Most of our competitors' launch control systems have a fixed engine launch speed," says SVT Engineering supervisor Eddie Khan, but since "not every driver has the same style, and surface, tire, and climate conditions vary," he points out, "we've given Shelby GT500 drivers the ability to adjust the engine speed to achieve the best and most consistent performance."

Drivers can use TrackApps through the instrument cluster or tap a switch to the left of the instrument panel to enable the system. Through TrackApps, the engine launch rpm can be adjusted between 3,000 to 4,500 rpm with steps of 100 rpm. There are other tricks up the GT500s sleeve, too. Extinguish the traction control while using launch control and you'll get an rpm-only mode that keeps the brakes out of the picture to avoid sacrificing any possible speed. Launch control also works with the different stability control modes to allow some wheelspin when that's the fastest way out of the hole. "It's not as intrusive as some TC systems have been in the past," said SVTs Khan. "We'e given our drivers the ability to exert control over all the power and torque this Mustang can produce."
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2013 Shelby GT500 Launch Control Ensures Smooth Starts Regardless of Surface Condition

• 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 is the first to be equipped from the factory with launch control

• SVT engineers have given Shelby GT500 drivers the ability to fine-tune the launch control settings, spinning wheels for consistent, maximum acceleration


DEARBORN, Mich., May 17, 2012 – Paraphrasing a classic quote – "With great power comes the need for great control" – the engineers at Ford's Special Vehicles Team have stepped up to the plate to manage the massive output of the 2013 Shelby GT500.

Whether a driver is a track-day veteran or getting his first ultra-high-performance sports car, the new launch control system on the 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 will help ensure he gets smooth, consistent and fast starts every time.

Uncontrolled wheel spin is generally undesirable, whether commuting to work or racing away from the Christmas tree on a Friday night at the drag strip. Both safety and performance suffer when the wheels can't get enough grip on the road. However, properly regulated, some wheel slip can be your friend.

"Launch control is essentially a special mode of the traction control system that integrates the brake and engine management systems to keep the tires balanced on the peak of the mu-slip curve in order to achieve maximum thrust," explains John Pfeiffer, senior engineer, SVT Vehicle Engineering. "With so much more power and torque on tap from the new 5.8-liter V8, launch control makes it easier for drivers to take advantage of the performance."

With launch control enabled, the driver just has to press the accelerator pedal to the floor and then smoothly and quickly release the clutch pedal just as he normally would when executing a clean start. The difference is that the electronics will automatically hold the engine steady at the desired speed and manage the rear brakes to allow the optimum amount of wheel slip for maximum traction.

"We recognize not every driver has the same style, and surface, tire and climate conditions vary," said Eddie Khan, SVT Engineering supervisor. "Most of our competitors' launch control systems have a fixed engine launch speed. We've given Shelby GT500 drivers the ability to adjust the engine speed to achieve best and most consistent performance, no matter where and when they drive."

Shelby GT500 drivers can enable launch control in two ways – either through Track Apps™ on the 4.2-inch LCD in the instrument cluster or simply by tapping a switch on the left side of the instrument panel. When using the Track Apps screen, drivers can also adjust the desired engine speed for the launch in 100 rpm increments from 3,000 to 4,500 rpm. When first getting accustomed to launch control or if the pavement is cooler, a lower speed may be more appropriate. Switching to racing tires or running in an autocross event on a warm Saturday morning may call for a launch speed closer to the upper end of the range.

Once the desired engine speed has been set, launch control can be toggled on or off by tapping the instrument panel switch – more convenient than the intricate multistep process required on many other vehicles. After the launch control has been enabled or disabled, it retains that mode even after the engine has been switched off and restarted, something drag racers frequently have to do as they slowly make their way through the lines to the next quarter-mile pass.

"We developed this system to enable 90 percent of drivers to be able to achieve very fast, smooth and consistent starts with the Shelby GT500 regardless of their skill level," said Khan. "Experienced drag racers may be able to get away slightly quicker, but chances are they won't be as consistent."

Veteran drag racers will find the Shelby GT500 also gives them extra flexibility. Switching off the traction control while the launch control is on produces an rpm-only mode that engine calibration engineer Tom Siebyla has tuned to keep the engine speed rock-steady with the electronic throttle and ignition without scrubbing off any speed with the brakes. Autocrossers or track-day racers can also mix and match the normal, sport and off modes of the stability control with the launch control to achieve the degree of sliding or control that best suits the conditions or their personal driving style.

For those times when there isn't enough grip to use launch control effectively, such as dust or moisture on the pavement, Ford electronic brake control development engineer Dan Dunn has built smarts into the launch control that enable it to automatically switch off and revert to traction control.

"It's not as intrusive as some TC systems have been in the past," added Khan. "We wanted to help the driver make consistent starts without getting in the way."

Launch control won't do the driving, but it is a tool to help drivers extract consistent high performance from the most powerful production Mustang ever.

"For drivers who want to have some fun at their local drag strip with a stock machine, the 2013 Shelby GT500 is the ultimate bracket racer," said Khan. "We've given our drivers the ability to exert control over all the power and torque this Mustang can produce."


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  • 42 Comments
      Andre Neves
      • 2 Years Ago
      A whole article including info graphic on the GT500's launch control feature and no mention of a 0-60 time? Awesome.
      NinetySixVert
      • 2 Years Ago
      Probably shouldn't be ripping up the drag strip with 28.5 miles on the odometer ;)
      BombSquad
      • 2 Years Ago
      Knowing the TR6060 which I believe is the transmission, and it's 3900 lb weight, I see the modding crowd reaching the limits of the drivetrain there first. The first ham fisted pilot who throws slicks on one and a smaller blower pulley, I suspect.
      MC-Cannable lol
      • 2 Years Ago
      You have "reesults" at the end of the first paragraph.
      bonehead
      • 2 Years Ago
      And anyone else notice that according to the graphic, with and without launch control you arrive at 60 mph in the same amount of time. LOL You just get to 30mph real fast and hold it till the normal launch catches up THEN you start to accelerate again. HURRAY for marketing ;)
      Like a Boss
      • 2 Years Ago
      So I guess it's bye bye Camaro
      Macvicar24
      • 2 Years Ago
      Too bad Ford owners couldn't get rear tire insurance. I think I might go watch a movie now. Cheech and Chong comes to mind.
      bbqbats
      • 2 Years Ago
      Damping Control? Perhaps the ZL1 should worry about cornering...
        Mchicha
        • 2 Years Ago
        @bbqbats
        GM has so much experience with advanced MRC from Cadillac, Corvette and now this, that ZL1 will probably hold its own against this more powerful vehicle. The ZL1 is about precision and advanced technology... not beastly power... Have you see how the Z06 carbon destroyed competition around Laguna SECA with almost 100 HP down from some of its powerful rivals on last years motor trend... test....? and that was without the current corvette upgrades.... They Z06 carbon was so freaking fast around the track, they did not even bother to bring out the ZR1 which is faster...
          Mchicha
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Mchicha
          Actually the only thing a GT-R can do in a drag race is launch faster.. in a mile drag race, after launch, the fight becomes a pure horsepower war, and in that case, the GT-R would get smashed..... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZlGMX8G3B4
          montoym
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Mchicha
          @ Mchicha: It's gearing too. The GT-R is geared to perform best in the 0 to about 125mph range (roughly a 1/4 mile), beyond that, it loses times quickly to many cars, even similarly-powered ones. Look at a graph of speed vs. time and there's a noticable drop off after about 120-125mph. Makes sense to focus on those stats though since that's where most of the action takes place and it allows the GT-R to keep up with more powerful cars in many situations, but it can't do everything.
          k_m94
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Mchicha
          Acid: "Derp Derp Derp Power per liter, durrr herpity derp AWD, hurrr white knuckled RWD sled, gaah, want foolproof slow feeling (boring) "control", letting the computer corner the car for me because I want to pretend I am a racecar drive but dont want the risk. I also need to prove that the (turbo, AWD, Japanese) Mitsubishi Evo is better than any (bigger displacement, RWD, usually American) performance car, and if it isnt, bring up the (turbo, AWD, Japanese) GTR. And I must repeat the same sh!t on any article that I can vaguely relate my magic Evo to.
          AcidTonic
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Mchicha
          Precision and advanced technology would be more like getting more power per liter from a lightweight motor and use the weight savings to bring AWD to the table. GT500 is crude compared to the GTR. Sure it may win a straight line or when driven by a professional with whiteknuckles 2 inches from death. I prefer a car that's fast and feels slow. Because it's so smooth and there is an abundance of driver confidence instead of a feeling that the rear end will swing around on one wrong throttle input.
          goa
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Mchicha
          jtav2002- aren't they all pointless bragging statistics?
          jtav2002
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Mchicha
          So when you don't bring up the Evo you resort to making stupid comparisons between the GTR and the GT500? They're not even remotely competitors. Besides, the GT500 isn't going to be faster than a GTR in a straight line unless you're talking about top end speed, which is nothing more than a pointless bragging statistic.
      NathanZ
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm glad Ford is making new engines.......unlike..."cough" GM...ohhh wait one or two new engines...what in a decade?
      tritonstrategies
      • 2 Years Ago
      Good news. Regardlesss, with this much power, rear wheel drive and street tires, lots is being left on the table as far as performance possibilities. They could put the pseudo drag radials like the Corvette and get 5ooo miles out of them.
      BlackDynamiteOn
      • 2 Years Ago
      Cool! BD
      Lemon
      • 2 Years Ago
      That graph is just... wrong.
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