Inside the Ford Tech Center
JUL 24, 2014 2:13p ET
While the Ford EcoBoost-powered prototypes continue their title quest in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship this week at Indianapolis, the Detroit automaker has opened up a game-changing new facility that’s moving Ford into the next generation of motorsports technology.
In May, the wraps were taken off the Ford Technical Support Center, which will play a pivotal part in the development of the manufacturer’s wide-ranging motorsports programs, including its current involvement in the TUDOR Championship and Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, and eventually future performance vehicles.
Located in Concord, North Carolina, for its proximity to the majority of NASCAR teams, the 33,000-square-foot facility features plenty of state-of-the-art technology, including a full-motion platform simulator that will allow teams to optimize their setups for individual track configurations. Additionally, drivers will be able to prepare for upcoming circuits on the Formula 1-style sim.
The Tech Center will also be a proving ground for up-and-coming Ford engineers, who in a new program will rotate through its racing program before returning to the production side, as part of the Motorsports Technology Exchange program.
“It’s vital for our engineers – both at Ford Racing and at Ford Motor Company – to have a firm hold on quick diagnosis and problem-solving skills,” said Mark Rushbrook, Ford Racing motorsports engineering manager.
“In many ways, racing is the perfect environment for growing and improving in those areas. You can’t predict what will happen on a racetrack, where you’re surrounded by unpredictable elements like the weather or other teams. It’s a heads-up mentality of adaptation every minute of every day that we want to continue to cultivate.”
The facility, which is expected to be fully operational later this summer, also features a variety of test equipment, such as a kinematics machine that measures suspension settings, as well as a chassis torsional twist rig, which evaluates chassis stiffness.
There’s also a vehicle CoG (center of gravity) machine and a coordinate measurement machine used for quality control checks to ensure new components are fully compliant with series-specific regulations.
Initially, the Tech Center will primarily be used for Ford motorsports programs in NASCAR, but the Ford sports car racing program won’t be far behind.