Time flies when you are having fun. For everyone involved with the Ford Racing Mustang Challenge, their fun and time is about to run out. On September 12, 2010, The Mustang Challenge will hold its final series championship race at Miller Motorsports Park, and then be closed for good.
Formed through an innovative partnership between Miller Motorsports Park and Ford Racing, The Mustang Challenge ran for three racing seasons and enjoyed significant sponsorship support from BFGoodrich Tires. The "All-Mustang" racing series was first announced at the SEMA show in November of 2007. Officially sanctioned by GRAND-AM from the start, The Mustang Challenge visited classic tracks across the continent from Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca to Watkins Glen to Mosport to Lime Rock Park.
Mustang Challenge was a bridge between up-and-coming racers and seasoned professionals. New racers got a chance to compete with established racing names like Jack Roush, Jr., Bucky Lasek and Vaughn Gittin Jr., all while climbing the GRAND-AM ladder in an attempt to make names for themselves as well.
The Mustang Challenge was not just about the racing. Through the three seasons of racing, all charity efforts tied to The Mustang Challenge were given to the Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer. The combined efforts of teams and drivers helped to raise over $100,000 in goods and services to date. They hope to boost this number even more through events and efforts surrounding the close of this season, including an auction of the custom-built Hurst Ford Racing Mustang Pace Car that was used as the pace car for the Mustang Challenge races this season. The auction is set for January, 2011 at Barrett-Jackson.
In addition, the Ford Mustang FR500S, which made Ford history as the first-ever production vehicle to go straight to the track, will continue to be eligible for competition in a variety of series. More details will be released in the coming months.
When the drivers and teams were informed of the decision to close the series out at the conclusion of the 2010 racing season, the news was met with sadness, although Randall and the rest of the Mustang Challenge staff were quickly soon after saluted with a heartfelt and lengthy round of applause from the drivers and teams in appreciation of the efforts, professionalism, and camaraderie that the series established.
“We are disappointed to not continue what we started with the Mustang Challenge,” said Series Director Lynda Randall. “But we should hold our heads high, as this was a tremendously successful program and we were fortunate to get to be a part of what really became a family. Our drivers raced hard during the day and tended to laugh hard—together—when they were out of the cars. We will miss the great mixture of competition and camaraderie, as well as the great racing, that we came to love in Mustang Challenge. This was not the decision that we wanted to have to make, but we wanted to let our racers know what the future held and we want to close the year out with some very big races at Autobahn and of course at Miller.”
“It is with mixed emotions that we announce the end of the Ford Racing Mustang Challenge,” offered Miller Group President Greg Miller. “On a personal level it has been fun and exhilarating for me to have been a part of this series from the time of the earliest discussions between Ford Racing and MMP. I have enjoyed watching the series develop over the years. I have developed many valuable friendships as a result of this series. I am grateful to all the participants and their families, the sponsors and those who administered the series for their support.”
“I relished being involved with the process of the birth of this exciting series and watching it develop and grow through the three years,” said Jamie Allison, director, Ford North America Motorsports. “For me, the highlight wasn’t as much anything in particular I saw on the track or a specific race. It was a combination of watching these great Mustangs perform on the track and seeing the incredible feeling of community that developed in the series among the competitors and organizers. I’m personally sad about this, but will carry fond memories of the series.”
“The Ford Racing Mustang Challenge has been an excellent partner for GRAND-AM, so we are naturally disappointed that 2010 will be the last season of operation for the series,” said David Spitzer, GRAND-AM Vice President of Competition. “Thank you to the Miller family, Ford, and the entire Miller Motorsports Park organization for what they have been able to accomplish since the inception of the Mustang Challenge. The Mustang Challenge events were a fantastic added feature for our fans during many of our race weekends, and we were so happy to met and get to work with everyone involved in the Mustang Challenge family. It was an honor to be a part of the program and we are working hard to create opportunities for these racers to continue to race in the GRAND-AM family in the future.”
“BFGoodrich Tires is honored to have been a part of the Ford Racing Mustang Challenge since its inception, and the series and drivers have all been worthy partners and friends,” said Roberts Kukainis, BFGoodrich Tires Motorsports Manager. “Although this series is concluded, we at BFGoodrich Tires look forward to working with everyone in the future, continuing to compete for victories.”