Ford teams form partnership
Ford Motor Company announced a five-year contract extension with John Force Racing on Saturday that will also herald the introduction of the "One Ford" technology-sharing concept into NHRA drag racing.
JFR will make available chassis, engine and safety components it has developed in conjunction with Ford Racing to other Ford-affiliated Fuel Funny Car competitors, including Bob Tasca III and Tim Wilkerson.
"One Ford" is a company-wide initiative created by Ford Motor Company CEO Allan Mulally. In NASCAR, the philosophy resulted in all Ford teams utilizing engines built by Roush Yates Engines; in addition chassis technology developed by Roush Fenway Racing has been made available to other teams including Richard Petty Motorsports.
"I simply asked the question: How can we put our Ford teams together in terms of having access to the development, the technology and the support we offer John Force Racing?" observed Jamie Allison, director of Ford Racing North America. "There was no connection in terms of technical and support. Knowing that the Tascas and Forces have family relations, the answer was very simple: We do it in NASCAR; why can't we do it in NHRA?
"This is something that wouldn't have worked decades ago, because of the change in landscape, perspective and opportunity," Allison added. "But with the wisdom of time, other things become more appropriate. We live 'One Ford;' truly being 'One Ford' means extending access to the technology that we -- Ford -- have developed with John. That's the spirit of 'One Ford.'"
Force said he polled all of the crew chiefs at John Force Racing prior to agreeing to share the technology that has helped make him a 14-time NHRA Funny Car champion.
"John Force talks a lot, but I know there are people smarter than me so I listen," Force said. "And when they wanted the 'Ford One' concept, they got 150 percent of JFR and all its crew chiefs' support.
"'One Ford' in NASCAR makes sense with Petty and Yates and Roush, and it only makes sense with us," he added. "Ford gave me that technology and if I can't help and take their information and give it to their teams, well then I'm not really a partner. On race day we race -- let me make that clear. But we're willing to help everybody that carries the Ford mark."
JFR recently opened a 160,000-square foot race shop in Brownsburg, Indiana, and Force said that selling parts to other teams is a key part of his business plan for his flagship facility.
"You'd be shocked at the number of the budget I set for the future ... it's millions of dollars," Force said. "But without Ford's engineering studies and technology, I can't do it. With that shop I have in Indianapolis and all those machines in it, if I don't start selling engine programs in this economy, I'm not gonna be able to keep that shop afloat because I financed it.
"I bought this book that talked about the change in industry and America and world wide, from the time they built the first Singer sewing machine to the time they built the first rifle with interchangeable parts," Force said. "They talked about Henry Ford building the first assembly line. And I got all excited because I'm going to build me a Henry Ford assembly line at John Force Racing in Indy. It's not a dream, these new contracts are allowing the dream to grow. It's Ford's roots."
Drivers Tasca and Wilkerson are pleased to be part of the "One Ford" initiative.
"I like to say that I'm an all-Ford kid who drives an all-Ford hot rod," said Tasca. "As a result of Ford Racing's new 'One Ford' approach, my Mustang will be powered by the Ford Racing- and John Force-developed BOSS 500 engine. My grandfather and John Force were the original 'One Ford' team and I'm looking forward to being a part of the latest 'One Ford' commitment."
Allison and Ford Racing officials believe that sharing the technology developed with JFR will make Ford an even stronger force in drag racing.
"Competitors in all form of motorsports want the best components available," Allison said. "Naturally because of the success of John Force, you can't help but want to be a part of that and have access to those great parts. We win at Ford because we have more competitors in the field; John wins because he can actually share and sell the parts he has helped develop; and the other teams win because they can be competitive with these parts from Ford and John.
"There's winners across the board."
John Oreovicz covers racing for ESPN.com.