Taurus has been Ford's flagship vehicle in the primary NASCAR series since 1998, when it became the first full-time four-door entry in NASCAR history. In seven seasons since replacing the Thunderbird, Taurus has earned Ford three manufacturer's titles and helped Dale Jarrett (1999), Matt Kenseth (2003) and Kurt Busch (2004) to drivers’ championships. The Fusion will make its series debut at the 2006 Daytona 500 in February.
Ford is marketing the Fusion as a “driver’s car” and is holding a series of Ford Racing Innovation Drive (FRID) sessions throughout the country to introduce prospective customers to its performance models. The Kentucky Speedway appearance kicks off the second year for the FRID program, and the top attractions will be the new Fusion and Mustang, in addition to a selection of NASCAR drivers.
Approximately 10,000 people attended 11 FRID events last year, getting a chance to drive Ford’s hottest cars and talk to product experts in an informal setting. The program proved to be a very effective selling tool for Ford
"It was unbelievable and far exceeded our expectations in many ways," said Stu Smith, car launch manager, Ford Division. "More than 25 percent owned non-Ford Division products and over nine percent of those who attended purchased a new Ford vehicle within six months. That's nearly three times the average buy rate for traditional programs."
Smith expects this year's program will be even more successful behind the continuing strong appeal of the Ford Mustang and the new Fusion.
"Mustang remains the hottest car in the industry, and attendees will be able to experience its outstanding acceleration and driving dynamics," he said.
Fusion launch manager Jyarland Jones said that the FRID events are ideal for introducting Fusion to the enthusiast public.
"Fusion is a key vehicle for Ford Motor Company, and it's very important that prospective customers experience its outstanding ride and handling attributes through a program like the Ford Racing Innovation Drive," she said.
This year’s FRID schedule includes the following events between now and mid-November:
July 16: Cincinnati, Ohio/Louisville, Ky. -- Kentucky Speedway
Aug. 13: New York, N.Y. -- Shea Stadium
Aug. 18: Detroit, Mich. -- Pontiac Silverdome
Sept. 1: Los Angeles, Calif. -- Pomona Speedway
Sept. TBD: Chicago, Ill. -- US Cellular Field
Sept. 25: Phoenix, Ariz. -- Firebird Raceway
Nov. 3: Dallas, Texas -- Texas Stadium
Nov. 16: Miami, Fla. -- Homestead Miami Speedway
For more information about Ford Racing Innovation Drive events or to register for an event in your market, visit www.fordinnovationdrive.com. -- John F. Gardner