Southsider Voice correspondent
A new multimillion dollar 33,000-square-foot Ford Technical Support Center is fully operational to assist Ford teams in NASCAR competition and to develop future products for motorists.
A private open house and dinner was held for more than 200 motor ssports media and guests at the facility last month in Concord, N.C., next door to NASCAR’s Research and Development Center and to nearby Roush Fenway Racing. Other Ford teams, such as Penske, the Wood Brothers and the Leavine Family, also have access to all testing and diagnostic equipment at the center.
Ford Motor Co. representatives and engineers said the facility represents the company’s commitment to racing and the development of products and performance cars.
“There aren’t many products that are made around a sport,” Ford group Vice President Ray Nair said to the media members from the annual Charlotte Motor Speedway media tour.
Engineering and development at the center will be utilized for the return of the Ford GT for street use in late 2016, the 50th anniversary of the car’s historic one, two, three finish at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The tech center supports Ford teams in three NASCAR divisions plus the K&N and ARCA series with eventual support for teams in the Tudor United SportsCar Championship, IMSA, Rally and Global Rallycross and NHRA.
The shining star of the facility is a $3 million simulator that measures input from a driver as he sits in a realistic cockpit with a wrap-around screen in front of him that shows a specific NASCAR track. A half-Ford Sprint Cup car is mounted on a sled that has only 6 degrees variance to track conditions. Engineers and crew members in a command center behind the simulator room examine data from the driver on the simulated ride.
The center also features ...
• A kinematics rig measures suspension geometry and wheel loads with various springs, tires and anti-roll bars.
• A center-of-gravity-machine, measures the vehicle’s pivot axis above the platform. Changes in weight and platform angle change the center of gravity.
• The stiffness rig is a surface plate that supports three corners of the car with loads applied at the fourth corner to evaluate torsion stiffness.
The technical center also features a race operations command center that shows the live telecast of a race with analytics data on a huge screen. The room seats more than 20 engineers who can communicate trackside with Ford teams during a NASCAR race.
Ford teams will benefit from the facility’s testing and research capabilities, as well as its “drive-through” parts service for NASCAR racing.
The center, which also serves as a racing parts warehouse, is not open to the public.