Meeting up with the new Mustang at the Nascar Hall of Fame

Published Dec 27, 2023


Nascar may not be everyone’s cup of tea but once you get to grips with it and understand how it all fits together and start focusing on the raw racing it’s hugely entertaining, not to mention the spectacular crashes that regularly occur in any given race.

It’s almost a religion in America with drivers revered for their feats and treated like our own Springbok rugby captain Siya Kolisi.

I mean, the Daytona 500 has 150,000 spectators crammed around the oval track on race Sunday and there aren’t many sports that can boast that.

With Nascar’s rich heritage stretching back to the first race at Daytona Beach in 1948 and the subsequent evolving of the sport into a safe modern spectacle, it’s no surprise that in the heart of Charlotte, North Carolina the spiritual home of Nascar, is the Nascar Hall of Fame, a museum dedicated to the history of the sport.

From the first cars raced with leather helmets, rudimentary engines and safety features to today’s uber-safe and technologically advanced machines but still using V8 6.0-litre pushrod engines, it’s all under one roof in a meticulously neat, high-tech and well laid out display.

And if Nascar is an icon of American motorsport, then the icon of American pony cars deserves to be there as well.

The Mustang is heavily woven into the fibre of the sport which became clear when we visited the Hall of Fame the day before we were given the opportunity to drive the new Mustang Dark Horse around part of the Charlotte Speedway.

There’s a display that offers visitors a peak into the development of the Dark Horse and the anatomy of the race car.

It shows how the Nascar Cup version closely mirrors its production counterpart with components like rack-and-pinion steering and independent rear suspension.

There’s also a next gen Mustang that was used during the testing phase of development, along with a clay model that Ford produced as an additional tool to gain approval from the Ford leadership to ensure that the race car had the same characteristics as the production car.

In addition to the physical displays that include an engine from Roush Yates Engines there’s a digital interactive display where you can learn about the critical components of the next gen Mustang.

According to Mark Rushbrook, global director, Ford Performance Motorsports the idea behind the exhibit is to “show people that what we learn in motorsports directly ties back to the cars they drive every day.”

Earlier in November Ford Performance also unveiled the new Mustang for the 2024 Nascar Cup Series based on the Dark Horse which means that in 2024 Mustang will be eligible to race on six continents.

“What a crazy year it has been revealing our new global Mustangs for racing. The positive response from our fans around the world has been amazing, and we’re confident that this Mustang Dark Horse Cup car will be no different and that Nascar fans will be excited to cheer us on next year,” said Rushbrook..

“Our Ford Performance staff, together with our Nascar race teams, have worked tirelessly in the wind tunnel developing this car, and I can’t wait to finally see it race on the track next season.”

The new Mustang is the first new performance nameplate for Mustang since 2001 and is the most track-capable 5.0-litre V8 street legal Mustang yet that has seen it race this year in the Repco Supercars Championship in Australia and Formula Drift series in America.

Its drift capabilities are thanks to a segment first electronic drift brake that fuses the rear wheel drive drifting capabilities which Ford says combines the visual appeal and functionality of a traditional mechanical hand brake.

In the coming year the Mustang Dark Horse racing variants will be competing in GT3 and GT4 classes globally as well as the Mustang Challenge Series using the Dark Horse R.

The new Ford Mustang will be launched early in 2024 with the GT Fastback model followed by the Dark Horse in the second quarter.