Drive: 2007 Ford Harley-Davidson F-150 and 2008 Ford F-150 Lariat
Photos and Words: Mike Levine
© 2007 PickupTruck.com
diesel drivers sometimes have to listen twice to make sure their quiet
new engines are running, it’s good to know the true
truckers inside Ford Motor Company still love to crank up the volume
for performance enthusiasts and buyers.
At the highest
level of truck performance, Ford Racing is going strong in this
year's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.
Two Blue Oval drivers, Travis Kvapil and Rick Crawford, are currently
ranked in the CTS top five – matching
the number of slots Toyota's racers also occupy.
Mike Skinner owns the pole position in the CTS points race but Kvapil
has picked up two wins this year in the #6 Roush Racing K&N Filters
Ford F-150. And Kvapil just took second place behind Skinner this past
weekend in Kentucky at the 'Built Ford Tough 225'.
pickup truck racing league started in 1995 and since that time it has
grown steadily in popularity, following the rocket trajectory growth
of the “Cup” cars.
while many stock car racing traditionalists - racers and fans alike -
have taken a jaundiced eye towards NASCAR’s new “Car of
Tomorrow” debuting this season, the 2007 Craftsman Truck Series
remains firmly connected to the earlier days of stock car racing.
roots date back to the late 1940s, when Bill France Sr. founded the organization
to standardize rules between the tracks where southern moonshine
runners used to race each other for bragging rights in their customized,
law-evading street cars. France’s rules
codified that the race cars could only be modified versions of actual ‘stock’ cars
sold by the manufacturers.
the OEMs began to notice increased sales of models that won NASCAR’s
contests. To capitalize on this new trend they started producing race
parts and limited edition, high performance versions of popular street
cars to encourage even more wins and to drive more sales.
In the 1950s,
engines like Ford’s
famous FE V8 were created specifically to take the checkered flag while
powering everyday cars and pickups. The
concept of “race
on Sunday, sell on Monday” was born. Even as late as the early
1970s it was possible for racing fans to walk onto a showroom floor and
drive off the lot with cars that were near identical to what their NASCAR
idols were running on the oval.
era of NASCAR began in the mid-1970s, when the one-two punch of the
1970 Clean Air Act and 1973 Arab Oil Embargo caused the federal government
to impose tough new emissions and corporate average fuel economy (CAFE)
laws on the manufacturers selling cars in the US. The regulations,
coupled with lower demand for fuel sucking street racers,
forever changed consumer powertrain technology and negatively
impacted engine performance in everyday cars for the next twenty-five-plus
years. Fuel injection, overhead cams, front-wheel-drive, and catalytic
converters all became commonplace – a long way from
the basic mechanicals under the hoods of the old moonshine
to the new government regulations, NASCAR also revised its rules to retain
its racing heritage and identity under the shadow of dramatically
changed consumer market conditions.
an entirely different direction from mass-produced autos, standardizing
all race cars around a single set of specs regardless of factory origin.
Engines could still be built and supplied by the auto manufacturers,
but the motors had to be no larger than a fixed displacement, they
could only use carburetors and pushrod architectures, and the cars
had to be rear-wheel-drive.
bodies also changed from sheetmetal to composite materials. The plastic
and fiberglass skins initially retained distinct styling cues shared
with production cars but slowly over time the universal laws of aerodynamics
turned all the cars into similar sleek shapes resembling warped versions
of their real-world counterparts.