The 2024 Ford Mustang Will Race in GT3, GT4, NASCAR, NHRA, and More
The only actual car (and not a truck or SUV) Ford builds is the natural choice for the company to send racing, and there is a variant of the 2024 Ford Mustang designed and developed to compete in a wide variety of pavement-based global racing series. We spoke with Mark Rushbrook, global director of Ford Performance Motorsports, to learn a bit more about this race-ready lineup of S650 Mustangs.
Beginners and Amateurs
Racers on a tight budget who are just starting up the racing ladder—and who need to put a license plate on their race car and drive it during the week—will find plenty to love and learn with a base Mustang 2.3 EcoBoost. They’ll also be able to upgrade it with the factory Performance package or a few aftermarket goodies. Too tame? Want a manual transmission? Step up to the Mustang 5.0 V-8, also upgradable with factory performance packages as well as Ford Performance aftermarket gear. Drivers looking for the ultimate street-legal 2024 Ford Mustang will gravitate to the Mustang Dark Horse with Handling package. It packs 500 hp from the factory, plus a forged crank and connecting rods that’ll stand up to some serious aftermarket tuning. The Dark Horse also gets a track-focused chassis setup and aerodynamic pieces that add downforce, making it the best performing, most track-ready S650 Mustang of the lot.
Once you commit to trailering a dedicated race car to and from the track, you’re ready for the Mustang Dark Horse S or R models, which follow in the footsteps of the Boss 302S and 302R race cars, as well as the more recent FP350S. Ford saves you all the trouble of gutting the car, welding in a roll cage, mounting a racing seat and belts, wiring an electrical-system disconnect, and installing fire suppression. The dash is simplified with minimal switches, a pit-speed limiter and data-acquisition system are installed, and you get an adjustable wing along with tow hooks and hood pins. Ford also upgrades the chassis with Multimatic DSSV shocks and adjustable suspension height and camber. The S model is intended for time attacks and track days, whereas the R model is the choice for wheel-to-wheel racing. As such it gets some extra body-strengthening welds, a fuel cell, Ford Performance wheels, and serialization for the benefit of racing sanctioning-body approval. There’s no pricing yet for these models, but the cost of the Boss 302S and 302R back in 2012 works out to $103,000 and $169,000, respectively, in 2022 dollars, while the FP350S rings in at $137,000.
This global racing category is meant to be less costly to compete in than the wildly popular GT3 class, as the cars are more directly production based than GT3 cars. It’s a great level for well-heeled gentle-person racers and eager young wannabe pro racers to develop their abilities and confidence before graduating to the more serious GT3 world. This significant step up in capability and cost relative to the Dark Horse models above brings a bigger price tag—a 2022 Mustang GT4 goes for $250,000—but here you get to race against the GT4-spec Aston Martin Vantage, Audi R8, BMW M4, McLaren 570S, Porsche Cayman, Toyota GR Supra, and more. The new Mustang GT4 will make its on-track debut in the 2023 season, able to compete in GT4 events backed by IMSA, SRO, and the FIA.
The global convergence in GT3 racing means the Mustang can now go to storied sports car racing events like the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Although Ford competed recently at Le Mans with its mid-engine GT model as a factory team in the GT Pro class, Mustangs will compete in customer classes and can contend for a class win. Hometown rival Chevrolet will run Corvettes in GT3, Ferrari and Porsche also run big GT3 programs, and Ford will support its customer teams around the world with parts and technical support on hand at major events such as Le Mans, Spa, Bathurst, and more.
Track time is always the most precious commodity for racers, and Ford can offer various types of support to help teams dial in their cars to the many disparate tracks on various series’ schedules. As part of this, the company will draw on its extensive use of simulators at its Ford Performance Technical Center in Concord, North Carolina; the sims have all the major circuits digitized and available for training. Customer teams are welcome to send their drivers to train on the simulators, though this service is not included with the sale of a Ford Mustang GT3 race car.
Ford hasn’t raced in GT3 with the S550 Mustang, and the 2024 IMSA GTD and GTD Pro series car is being developed with help from Multimatic (which helped with the GT Le Mans race cars) and M-Sport. The engine will be based on the 5.0-liter Coyote, but Ford remains tight-lipped on further details until the GT3 car is homologated in the third quarter of 2023, ready for racing in 2024.
The silhouette-racer’s greenhouse will remain unchanged, but the S650 Mustang’s new production body panels will at some point—Ford hasn’t yet specified when—result in changes to the nose, hood, quarter panels, and tail of the NASCAR version, as well. The decals will all be new, and we don’t be surprised if a Dark Horse decal makes it on there. Power will continue to come from the FR9 engine in use today.
Drag Racing and Australian Supercars
Ford is being a bit coy when it comes to its specific drag racing plans for the 2024 (and beyond) Mustang, but it will certainly put an S650 Mustang version in the long line of turnkey factory drag racing specials that stretch all the way back to the 1968 Cobra Jet that won the NHRA Winternationals in its first appearance. The company began making batches of Cobra Jet drag cars in 2008, repeating this every few years through 2018 when a run of 68 Cobra Jets helped commemorate the brand’s 50th anniversary. Ford then showed an electric Cobra Jet in 2020. Regarding the latest Mustang, all the Blue Oval has said so far on this front is that a newly designed model will compete “in the coming years” in the NHRA’s Factory X category. In the nearer term, a new Mustang will compete next season in the well-respected Australian Supercars series which features some of motorsports’ best road-racing action.
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