Odometer (Legend): 543,115
Odometer (ILX): 161,603
There’s nothing like a little “horsepower high” to break up a mundane Tuesday! I escaped the office for a couple of hours recently to attend a track event at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Arizona.
The Ford Performance program – formerly known as SVT (Special Vehicle Team), and also formerly known as SVO (Special Vehicle Operations) is the company’s division dedicated to performance and race vehicles. Anybody else remember the long-gone 1998 Ford Contour SVT?
The performance program has recently undergone a lot of changes both in structure and in branding, and Ford has developed a new lineup of vehicles tailored around speed and performance for people who demand more get-up than the average Joe.
Many of those vehicles were on display at the track, all the way from the entry level Fiesta ST up to the supercar “GT” model which debuted recently and hasn’t yet gone on sale. Somewhere in the middle of that hierarchy lies the Mustang, and Ford’s engineers have gone to great lengths to make this one a viable contender against the competition.
Jim Owens, Marketing Manager at Ford Performance, gave our group of 25-30 individuals a run-down on the lay of the land. His organization’s goal is to instill the “addiction” for performance in consumers early on and work them through the product lineup as they mature and are able to move on to bigger and better offerings from the company.
After some safety briefings and an introduction to the track layout, I was saddled up in the passenger seat of the 526-horsepower, 6-speed manual Mustang “Shelby GT350” beast and driven around by a professional driver from Ford’s race team based in Salt Lake City at Miller Motorsports racetrack. Finally I had the chance to do some of the driving myself. The rumble of the V8 powerplant was unlike anything I’ve driven recently. I found the clutch take-up to be intuitive and easy to balance. In a flash, I was already in 3rd gear and I stayed there for pretty much the entire driving portion, taking instructions from my passenger and doing my best to not make a fool of myself on the track.
I had a riot! The car revs willingly to the high end of the rev range because redline isn’t until 8,250 RPM. I had a great time pushing the car nearly that limit on the long straightaway and I found it to be a better-handling car than I’d expected. For a $48k entry level starting price, the Shelby GT350 is a helluva play toy for grown ups. Many thanks to Ford for the invitation to the event! Here is a short video showing brief highlights from my day.
Here are a few more photos from the past several days:
On Saturday morning, I went to Tucson and test-drove a clean 1994 Legend GS sedan 6-speed. Oddly enough, this car used to belong to my friend Ryan in Utah 5 years ago! I shared a walkaround video with him.
That afternoon, my friend Leif and I attended a historical tour of the sights in Phoenix surrounding a controversial murder case. Back in 1931, a woman named Winnie Ruth Judd killed her two best friends in a sort of dramatic love affair ordeal. She cut up the bodies, put them into large trunks, and shipped them to Los Angeles via the railway. She later was caught, convicted, and spent 40 years of her life in jail (though she escaped 7 times). What a story!
Our two-hour ride took us to some of the sights in town which were significant in the case, including the home of Winnie’s (married) boyfriend Jack Holleran which we went inside, and a drive-by of the original “murder house” in central Phoenix.
“Hip” Historian Marshall Shore led the tour
Starting point was the historic (and also very hip) Clarendon Hotel
ILX with the Clarendon in the distance
The scene of the crime!
On Sunday, I had a lake day with friends at Lake Pleasant, a 12-square-mile lake formed from the Agua Fria river. We rented a couple of boats and spent the day exploring around. Here is the approach of Scorpion Bay Marina.
Half of our group on boat #2
I gave my friend Ira a scare. He tracks my location and saw me out in the middle of the water.
Part of the group. Living the Arizona dream!
There was some drama this week when my storage unit roll-up door was backed into.
Luckily, the car was far enough forward (plenty of room!) that nothing was damaged.
Hope everyone is having a great week! Getting closer to Friday!