popularity of NASCAR has grown exponentially since this schism, today’s
race cars have very little in common with modern passenger cars - like
a front-wheel-drive, DOHC V6 powered Ford Fusion sedan - aside from
vague shaping cues and decals resembling grilles and front headlights.
And while the Detroit Three still dominate the fields
in the Nextel Cup and Busch Series races, they no longer rule the passenger
car sales charts like they did during NASCAR’s
Craftsman Series pickups are different.
race cars, the race trucks also follow strict engine architecture, displacement,
and driveline configuration rules, but unlike passenger cars, consumer
pickups remain incredibly close in powertrain and spirit to modern
race trucks - and to their original NASCAR race car cousins. Ford may
have stopped selling pushrod V8s for its F-Series pickups in the mid-1990s
but single-cam-in-block motors are still the primary work engines found
in production Chevrolet Silverados and Dodge Rams.
Ford, and Dodge brands also makeup the majority of the CTS racing field,
but unlike their cars the trucks remain the best selling consumer
vehicles in their segment and over most of the auto industry.
In a very
real way, Craftsman Truck Racing is a throwback to the car-buying America
of the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s, which is why Ford, “the
official truck of NASCAR”, is so serious about keeping its investment
and participation in NASCAR and the Craftsman Truck Series so high.
Ford’s own research reveals that over half of Ford truck owners
are racing fans, with 60 percent of these owners specifically following
important for (Ford and its local dealers) to continue to do things
like sponsoring the 'Built Ford Tough 225' at
Kentucky Speedway", says Todd Eckert, Ford's manager of truck
and SUV communications.
adds, "Sure, we have trucks in (the race) so people
know that Ford and F-150 are involved in the Craftsman Truck Series,
but at the same time being able to put 'Built Ford Tough' onto
the race itself is something that ultimately helps show that we’re
not only participating in the racing but that we’re also helping
to bring the racing to local communities, like Kentucky, while working
with the grassroots efforts of our dealers, because that’s ultimately
where our truck customers live, in grassroots communities. This is an
important market for us and Craftsman Truck Racing is am important way
that we reach out to our consumers. It’s why we’re renewing
our sponsorship (of the 'Built Ford Tough 225') for another
three years (through 2010)."
Ford F-150 buyers particularly benefited from the Blue Oval’s generous sponsorship. They received two t-shirts,
two hats, and two tickets to the race. They were also allowed special
access to the garage area at the track, where the customers had an opportunity
to personally meet and greet the drivers.
nearby Kentucky Truck Plant, where Ford’s heavy duty
pickups are made, there was a new 2008 F-250 Super Duty with a 6.4-liter
Power Stroke V8 diesel that Ford donated for a contest to help raise
funds for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. The crew cab
sported a custom American flag paint job and drew a large crowd before
the race started.
to Ford Truck spokesperson Wes Sherwood, who literally gave the 'Ford
off his back to a current Ford Focus owner and race fan who said they
liked the white polo he was wearing. Talk about Ford accommodating
the buying public!