For the Ford Motor Company, few single model years were more productive than that which took place in 2005. It was then that Ford began offering a larger number of individual models than any other year in the company’s history. The 500 HP GT has been driving the performance vehicle market, the Five-Hundred and Freestyle had just been released, and word had begun to circulate regarding the Fusion’s impending reveal. Ford’s showing for the 2005 model year was so strong, that many company executives began referring to 2005 as “The Year of the Car.”
At the same time, Ford was enjoying some much-needed publicity, on behalf of NASCAR. The Mustang had served as the designated pace car in several races during the earliest portion of the 2005 race season, as an exciting announcement was handed down from NASCAR officials. In a somewhat predictable turn of events, the Mustang was named the official pace car of the Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, in November of 2005.
Ford Goes All Out
Riding the heels of a successful year like none other, Ford sought to foster something truly special for Championship Weekend. A comprehensive list of community and youth-centered activities was staged, allowing the manufacturer to give back to the community in which the race was held.
“From the Hispanic Heritage Race Car Art contest to the Year of the Car customer drive program with Ford Racing drivers, this year’s Ford Championship Weekend will be extra special for the community of south Florida,” said Francisco Codina, vice president of Ford Customer Service Division, who was on hand to unveil the new Mustang. “Ford is committed to developing programs that directly benefit local families and the communities that they live in.”
Ford also hoped that the events of the weekend would connect with consumers, thereby driving sales well into the future. “These Year of the Car products, along with the 500-horsepower Ford GT and a new midsize five-passenger sedan, are redefining the car segment for the Blue Oval,” said Camilo Pardo, Ford SVT and GT designer. “They set an impressive benchmark for design, comfort, versatility, and safety that will directly resonate with customers.”
The Star of the Show
For Mustang enthusiasts and Ford die-hards the world over, the weekend’s crowning moment involved watching a uniquely detailed 2005 Mustang GT Pace car as it led a full pack of the nation’s most revered racers onto the track. This was not the first time that the Mustang had served as the official pace car of a large-scale event, but was quite special nonetheless.
At the time, the Mustang had just celebrated its 40th anniversary and was in the midst of a generational divide in production. 2005 served as the inaugural year of production for the fifth-generation Mustang, following the retirement of the fourth-generation Mustang after eleven years in production.
The 2005 Mustang GT Pace Car showcased all that was innovative and new in the world of Ford’s flagship model. At the center of the reimagined Mustang GT was a 300+ horsepower all-aluminum, 4.6L V8. This new powerplant garnered a significant degree of attention for its three-valve design, which differed from the two-valve design found in conjunction with many prior Mustang engines.
Additional fifth-generation advancements included the implementation of revised steering and suspension systems, which had been paired with the Mustang’s beloved live rear axle design. The 2005 Mustang also featured a redesigned interior, which possessed a look of sophistication. An elegantly arranged dash served as a focal point of the fifth-generation Mustang’s interior and included LED lighting, which could take on varying colors depending upon consumer preference.
The 2005 Mustang GT Pace Car remained relatively stock when compared to standard GT series Mustangs of the era. The exception to this rule was the car’s one of a kind graphics arrangement, which featured a black and yellow Mustang in mid-stride, overlaid across a checkered flag. A bright red paint scheme backed the aforementioned graphics package, providing an additional level of depth to the Pace Car’s appearance.
A Moment In The Sun
The 2005 Mustang GT’s use as an official NASCAR Pace Car was historic for multiple reasons. Not only was taking part in such an event a significant honor, but doing so also netted Ford a substantial amount of publicity in the public eye, at a time when the company was attempting to increase their sales exponentially.