Ford Motor Co. has a new resource to help its race teams.
Just a few short miles from Charlotte Motor Speedway, the automaker has opened its Ford Technical Support Center in Concord, N.C. The new facility is just down the street from the NASCAR R&D Center and very close to the Roush Fenway Racing campus.
While NASCAR for years had the reputation of being a low-tech sport, nothing could be further from the truth today, with the sport dominated by sophisticated and advanced engineering. Ford’s new 33,000-square-foot facility will provide plenty of tools and resources for its NASCAR teams.
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"At the end of the day, the pace of advancement in this sport, and the fact that you’re really slicing hairs in terms of competitive parity in the sport, you’re looking for that incremental opportunity, that incremental advantage," said Jamie Allison, director, Ford Racing.
The center will support Ford’s NASCAR teams immediately and eventually have the capabilities to bolster Ford Racing teams in a variety of racing series.
"This facility is an investment in advanced Ford Racing technical tools that will support our goal of winning races and championships," said Allison. "It also provides us with expansion capabilities as we support our broader array of Ford teams from NASCAR, the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, IMSA, Rally and Global RallyCross, NHRA and other series."
The Ford Technical Support Center will not just focus on NASCAR, but also include resources for TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, IMSA, Rally and Global RallyCross, NHRA and other racing series.
The center has a wealth of tools for the teams and Ford engineers to use.
Foremost among them is a full-motion platform simulator that teams can use to optimize setups at various tracks, and younger drivers can use to familiarize themselves with those tracks.
"We have enhanced our vehicle dynamics simulation tools to lead the development of Ford Racing cars in NASCAR and IMSA, as well as our street products," said Raj Nair, group vice president, Ford global product development. "The driving simulator will help us to push handling optimization to the next level so that our cars can be fast right off the trailer, allowing our teams to focus on fine-tuning changes when they get to the track."
The new full-motion platform simulator will help Ford teams fine-tune their set-ups before ever hitting the track.
Other tools at the facility include:
Kinematics machine: Tests camber, toe, scrub and various loads with tires and springs. Useful to set up front suspensions for different track configurations.
Chassis torsional twist rig: Quantifies the torsional chassis stiffness. It can measure torsional stiffness of the entire car, the stiffness of the chassis independently, or the influence of various components on the car.
Vehicle center of gravity machine: Measures the center of gravity height of a completed car, with the goals of race teams always being to get weight as low as possible in the car.
In addition, the facility, which will be completed later this summer, will serve as a parts distribution warehouse. Ford manufacturers most of the body panels used in the building of NASCAR race cars, and the center will warehouse front- and rear-ends, fenders, roofs and other parts and pieces needed to assemble cars.
And there’s a conference room where engineers can watch NASCAR races in real time, as they’re happening.
"In order to house our simulator and to bring all the array of tools we had — our K rig (kinetics machine), our other tools that exist … we wanted to put them all under one house," said Allison.
A look inside the new Ford Technical Support Center in Concord, N.C.