The launch of the Sprint Cup car coincides with the unveiling of the 2013 Ford Fusion production car (to be called the Ford Mondeo in Australia), and the increased resemblance between road car and race car is no coincidence.
Ford Racing director Jamie Allison explained his team was determined to bring back brand identity to the sport.
“We wanted Fusion to be the car that helped return ‘stock car’ to NASCAR,” Allison said. “It is going to re-engage them [the fans] with the sport better because there is just something natural about seeing race cars that look like cars in their driveways.”
Ford is clearly hoping the old “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday” adage still holds true. NASCAR is the number one spectator sport in the US and is broadcast into more than 150 countries around the world. Unlike the previous Fusion NASCAR, which was styled to look like the North American production car, the new Fusion NASCAR is based on Ford’s new global design and will be far more relevant to motorsport fans and new-car customers around the world.
Ford Racing NASCAR Operations Manager Andy Slankard said the new 2013 Ford Fusion NASCAR was very different to race car designs of the past, where some race teams have actually designed and built their cars.
“We started going back to our design community and nosed around with guys that have been with the company the longest and we can't remember the last time designers have been involved with helping NASCAR," Slankard said.
"This time, we have had the luxury of support from the Ford Design Centre to give us these sleek shapes and new look. Only designers could do that, not a bunch of engineers or race car guys."
The new Ford Fusion NASCAR will be tested throughout 2012 in preparation for its racing debut early next year.