After Ford Australia announced in May 2013 that it would be closing its manufacturing operations in Australia by 2016, naturally questions started to be asked about Ford’s continuing involvement in V8 Supercars and its financial support of the factory team Ford Performance Racing.
The signs weren't promising and on 1st December 2013, Ford President Bob Graziano officially confirmed that Ford would be withdrawing financial support from V8 Supercars at the end of 2015, with a total withdrawal from the category at the end of 2016.
Ford fans were on the whole extremely saddened, as the brand they have cheered for, shed tears with and owned themselves would no long have support of the manufacturer. Fords continued participation in the series moving forward was also now under a cloud.
Tim Edwards who is Team Principal of Prodrive Racing Australia (PRA), commonly known as Ford Performance Racing (FPR), also confirmed the decision and made the following statement.
“Ford Australia’s decision to not extend its commercial relationship with our team beyond the end of next season is extremely disappointing for our large and loyal fan base, but as a business this decision now allows us to concentrate on our long-term future,” Edwards said.
“We have enjoyed a highly-successful relationship with Ford Australia with just shy of 50 race wins, 150 podiums and the last two Bathurst 1000 crowns together.”
It is expected both PRA and Dick Johnson Racing Team Penske (DJRTP) will continue to campaign the new Ford Falcon FG X being debuted this year through 2015 and 2016, however the future of both the Falcon and Ford in V8 Supercars is now the new question on everyone’s lips.
In 2017 V8 Supercars will reinvigorate the category with the new ‘Gen2’ rules package. This new technical framework opens up engine and body shape regulations which will allow turbo charged four and six cylinder engines to run alongside the existing V8 engines.
The other large change will be to free up the body shape eligibility, and combined with the new engine allowances, has been designed to entice more manufacturers to the sport.
Whether this means a Ford Mustang could potentially be competing in V8 Supercars from 2017 onwards is purely speculation, but it would be a welcome inclusion to the die-hard Ford fans, who have been cheering on the Blue Oval since the company first started its involvement in Australian motor racing in the 1960’s.
The ‘Ford Works Team (Australia)’ was the first Australian motor racing team to be supported by Ford Australia after its formation in 1962 and at that years Armstrong 500 held at Phillip Island, Harry Firth and Bob Jane drove their Ford Falcon XL to victory.
This began an incredible journey of Ford in motor racing in Australia with many unforgettable moments, including of course the unforgettable moment that Alan Moffat and Colin Bond completed a 1 -2 finish in perfect formation at Bathurst in 1977.
Ford currently holds twenty three Australian Touring Car Championship titles, versus Holden’s nineteen titles and Ford has proudly won Bathurst a total of twenty times over the events history.
For most Ford fans, the passion for the Blue Oval will remain irrespective of Ford’s involvement in V8 Supercars moving forward, however Australian motorsport would be all the better if the iconic and truly aussie Ford vs Holden rivalry could remain for years to come.