Ford Racing unveils 2004 car and truck

Ford Racing unveils '04 Taurus and F-150. INDIANAPOLIS, IND., July 31, 2003 - Fans at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis were treated to a "first" today as Ford Racing unveiled a freshened exterior Taurus and all-new F-150 pickup truck that will ...

Ford Racing unveils 2004 car and truck

Ford Racing unveils '04 Taurus and F-150.

INDIANAPOLIS, IND., July 31, 2003 - Fans at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis were treated to a "first" today as Ford Racing unveiled a freshened exterior Taurus and all-new F-150 pickup truck that will be competing next season in the NASCAR Nextel Cup and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, respectively.

Cisco Codina, vice-president, Ford Customer Service Division, and Dan Davis, director, Ford Racing Technology, unveiled the vehicles today as part of the annual Ford Racing Fan Appreciation Day. Numerous Ford Racing drivers from the NASCAR Winston Cup, Busch Series, and Craftsman Truck series assisted in the presentation.

This marks the second time that Taurus has received a styling and design change to its nose and tail sections since becoming the first four-door entry in NASCAR's top division in 1998. The F-150 is also undergoing its second facelift, but it's the truck's first since 1996. The new styling on the race vehicles reflects the styling changes that will appear on the production 2004 Taurus and 2004 F-150 that will be on sale this fall.

"We're extremely happy with the way the Taurus and F-150 came out and it's a credit to our Ford engineers who worked on them and the Ford racing teams who built them," said Ford Racing Operations Manager Greg Specht. "They really hit a home run because, from the time both vehicles went from the drawing stage to the final wind tunnel tests, we had no problems. The processes for both vehicles really mirrored each other and we think they're both going to be extremely competitive next season."

Taurus replaced Thunderbird as Ford's NASCAR Winston Cup flagship model in 1998, and in five-plus seasons has won 73 races, one driver's championship and three manufacturer's titles. The F-150's introduction to racing coincided with the debut of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, posting 61 wins, one driver's championship and two manufacturer's titles along the way.

Although being shown for the first time today, the Taurus and F-150 race vehicles won't make their competition debut until February 2004, at the start of Daytona Speedweeks.

"The work we did with NASCAR went extremely well," said Specht. "Having been through this process a couple of times before, we've really gotten it down to a science. We were able to deliver the car a month ahead of schedule and there were no surprises on NASCAR's part or on our part, so we're very satisfied.

"Hopefully, the car will gain quick final approval so we can put the parts in the hands of our teams and avoid them having to scramble around during the Christmas holiday. Ideally, we'd like them to be able to get started building cars for Daytona and the rest of the season by early fall."

Taurus underwent its first nose and tail facelift in 2000 after Dale Jarrett won the NASCAR Winston Cup championship in 1999. The F-150 makeover comes at an ideal time from Ford's standpoint because, since debuting nine years ago, Dodge has come on board to field a competitive NASCAR Craftsman Truck program and Toyota has announced plans to join the series in 2004.

"It's been a struggle for us in the Craftsman Truck Series because our truck mirrors the production vehicle, whereas our competition has gone through more iterations since the truck series began in 1995," said Specht. "We're looking forward to making up some ground in that area next year and feel this is the first step in becoming more competitive."

In 2003, Ford Taurus Winston Cup drivers have captured six victories in the series' first 20 races, and Taurus driver Matt Kenseth leads the championship. In the Busch series, Taurus driver Scott Riggs leads the championship and Ford drivers have captured seven wins in the first 21 events. In Craftsman Truck, Ford F-150 drivers have won three times in the first 13 events, and Ford drivers have four of top 10 positions in the title chase.

Since it was introduced in 1985, Ford Taurus sales have averaged more than 350,000 units every year, and the car line recently surpassed 6 million units in total sales. Taurus is one of the 10 best-selling vehicles - car or truck - in the United States. It also consistently outsells the combined total sales of its NASCAR nameplate competitors - Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Pontiac Grand Prix and Dodge Intrepid.

The F-Series has been the best-selling full-size pickup for 26 years, as of January 2003, and the nation's best-selling vehicle, car or truck, for 21 years running. Simply put, it's America's favorite pickup truck.

-ford racing-

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