Plan of Attack
Ford Performanceâ€™s Jim Owens offers insight on the GT350 Track Attack
By Steve Turner
Photos by Steve Turner and courtesy of theÂ FordÂ Performance Racing School
We recently learned that the Ford Performance Racing School would remain at the recently renamed Utah Motorsports Campus for the next four years. With that agreement in place, Ford Performance recently opened up classes in its GT350 Track Attack program, which is complementary driving school offered to owners of the 2015-2016 Shelby GT350 and GT350R. As such, SVTP spoke with Ford Performance Marketing Manager Jim Owens to learn more about this exciting offering.
â€œThe Ford Performance Racing Schoolâ€™s home will continue to be at the Utah Motorsports Campus, and our programs that we doâ€”GT350 Track Attack and ST Octane Academyâ€”will be offered in conjunction with the Ford Performance Racing School,â€ Jim said. â€œâ€¦Those are the men and women who have done a great job balancing being race instructors and communicating those product attributes that make that ride around the track so good.â€
Between April 3 and October 6, 2016 the Ford Performance Racing School will offer its series of one-day Track Attack driving schools. These schools are the natural continuation of the offerings that were first offered to owners of the 2012-2013 Boss 302 and later to owners of the Focus and Fiesta ST.
â€œThe Boss 302 Track Attack and the subsequent ST Octane Academy were all about Ford Performanceâ€™s ability to demonstrate the product attributes that the engineering men and women have worked so hard on delivering, and demonstrating them in a safe manner for those consumers,â€ he explained. â€œThat is very consistent through all the Ford Performance Racing Schools, even the school that Dan offers on a retail basis. Our men and women of Ford Performance have delivered a car thatâ€™s capable in its environment and hereâ€™s where you get to learn how to use that in a safe environment with professional instructors and what we think is a home-run facility.â€
Having experienced the facility formerly known as Miller Motorsports Park for ourselves, we concur that the locale and its instructors are top-notch. While the experience offered at the Boss 302 Track Attack was outstanding, Ford Performance and its driving school partner are still perfecting the syllabus for the GT350 school to suit the carâ€™s impressive capabilities.
â€œA great driver can make that thing dance. I rode with Gunner (Jeannette) at Laguna and where my braking point was, he as still full throttle and where my turn-in point was his braking pointâ€¦â€ Jim said. â€œIt makes him so exceptional, yet it still makes me so confident to be able to enjoy the attributes. We have to have a class that demonstrates that and thatâ€™s a little bit farther than where the Boss 302 (class) went.â€
While the one-day class is free to GT350 owners (travel and such is on you), the GT350 Track Attack attendees can opt to stay longer and learn more for an additional fee. The two-day experience means moving out of GT350 street cars with track safety upgrades to racier Mustangs for the second day of schooling (and beyond).
â€œDan McKeever (FPRS General Manager) is thinking that a lot of folks will stay for an extra day or two days. They did on the Boss 302 Track Attack and they went into, at that time, the Ford Racing School Mustangs. Now what you will do after your graduate, if you stay the extra days, you will go into the Boss 302s that they used to use there,â€ Jim said. â€œThey have now been taken up to like a Boss 302Ss (level). Thatâ€™s your next day car. You can continue on to get your license if you want, and Danâ€™s going to offer a discount for those who come for the GT350 Track Attack and want to add multiple days going forward.â€
We can attest that if you go for one day, youâ€™ll want to stay for another, so keep that in mind when you sign up. (And, if you want your pick of dates, you better hurry, as some of the April sessions are already sold out.) However, graduates of the one-day school will leave with a special trophy whether they extend their schooling or not. The Boss 302 Track Attack grads received a really cool rod-and-piston trophy upon graduation, and GT350 Track Attack graduates will carry something special home too.
â€œIf you think about it at the Boss 302 Track Attack when we gave out the graduation trophy, it was about what made that car specialâ€”the air intake, the high-revving, what we did to the pistons and the crank. Now with the GT350, the 5.2-liter Flat-Plane crank is a key piece of the DNA, but we gave that out to the ownersâ€¦â€ Jim said. â€œSo we had to look a little bit different for the graduation trophy. Mark Schaller, who is the Shelby GT350 Marketing Manager, has been working with our group and we have settled on a design that is that highlights the functional capabilities of the car and is not engine-based this time.â€
So owners shouldnâ€™t expect a little Flat-Plane Crank trophy when they graduate, but the Ford Performance team went through numerous iterations to develop something really special for its GT350 Track Attack students.
â€œIf you know the car, you will see it and instantly recognize what it is, and even if you donâ€™t know the car it looks really cool,â€ he added. â€œWe are really pleased with it and we expect the people that walk away with them to be happy as those that took home a Boss 302 piston.â€
Of course, Shelby GT350s are just one of many Ford Performance vehicles in the pipeline, so we couldnâ€™t help but wonder if there might be a school offered for owners of Fordâ€™s hottest hatchâ€”the Focus RS.
â€œFord Performance is always looking to find a way to demonstrate the innovation that its men and women are putting into the cars,â€ Jim said. â€œRight now with the STs and the Shelby GT350s that are already in your dealerships, we have that mechanism in place with the Ford Performance Racing School.â€
So the door definitely seems open to future Ford Performance Racing School offerings, but if you already own a Shelby GT350, you donâ€™t want to miss this opportunity. Owners can register here, and if you want to join the discussion with other SVTP members attending the school, you can do so on our forum.
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