Karl on Cars

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Tag: Track

Ford GT Mark II: Ultimate Track Toy for Ford GT Enthusiasts

Ford GT Mark II Driving

The Ford GT Mark II is a purpose-built track toy

Ford Motor Company has made a lot of noise with the street and race versions of the modern Ford GT. In race form, the GT has racked up an impressive list of wins at tracks like Le Mans, Daytona, Laguna Seca, Silverstone, Fuji, Shanghai, etc. Over that same 2-year period the street version of the Ford GT has remained a hot commodity in the exotic sports car world.

Ford GT Mark II Profile

The Ford GT Mark II maximizes downforce with unique body work

However, whether in street or organized race trim, the new Ford GT has been configured under a litany of regulations. The street version has to abide by emissions, safety and sound regulations, all of which add weight while restricting power. Even more frustrating, the Ford GTs racing in the World Endurance Championship and IMSA series also face horsepower restrictions and weight penalties, all in an effort to “balance” the GT’s performance against lesser…uh…I mean other…competitors.

Ford GT Mark II Doors

The Ford GT Mark II can be painted in any design the buyer wants

This begs the question: What if Ford built a version of the new Ford GT without any street or organized racing restrictions? What if the company simply took the GT’s basic platform and drivetrain and configured it in a way to maximize performance?

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Ford GT Gets a Nintendo Wii, Plus Track time

In May of 2008 I took the GT on two driving adventures. The first was a local Best Buy adventure, where what started as a purchase run for a Rock Star wireless guitar controller turned into a Nintendo Wii purchase (plus the wireless guitar purchase). This put the Ford GT’s storage space to test. The other adventure was on the Streets of Willow race track, where I was able to stretch the GT’s legs without changing a thing from its street set-up.

2005 Ford GT Long Term Wii

The Nintendo Wii fit in the GT’s storage area, but I had heat concerns

2005 Ford GT: Wii!!!!!!!

May 5, 2008 at 13,100 miles

What started out as a simple Best Buy run to see if they had any wireless Rock Band guitars for the Xbox 360 turned into a Wii run — all in my Ford GT.

After seeing said wireless guitars on display at the store entrance I casually asked about the availability of a Nintendo Wii. This question has been met with a quick, “Nope, none in stock” over the past 18 months, but on this particular day the store employee said, “Let me check” and returned with hushed instructions to “Go to register 8 and tell them your name.” I think the Wii is still rather hard to get, but an order had apparently just come in. As I was buying mine I saw another guy at the next register getting his.

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The Ford GT School

In March of 2008 I participated in a specific racing school meant for Ford GTs. It was taught by Neil Hannemann, the Ford GT’s chief engineer, at Willow Springs Raceway. If you’ve got a car with a lot of horsepower this track will allow for some pretty high speeds. The Ford GT was capable hitting 140 mph on the back stretch…if I was willing to push it that hard. Here’s the story that ran in March of 2008.

2005 Ford GT Willow Springs

The Ford GT School offered dedicated instruction at Willow Springs Raceway

“Hello, Auto Claims division? Yes, there was this event called ‘The GT School’ that involved driving my 700-horsepower Ford GT at speeds up to 140 mph at Willow Springs International Raceway. But Turn 9 is a little tricky. It’s this decreasing radius corner….”

This conversation never actually took place, but I heard it inside my head about 50 times during my nine hours at The GT School. In truth, my insurance company would have simply laughed and hung up had I called to make a claim about wadding up my $150,000 Ford supercar on a racetrack. Most insurance companies have a specific disclaimer, usually deeply buried in the policy, that shields them from coverage for “competitive driving events” or “racing activities” or similar behavior.

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