And you think shopping for a new car can be time consuming. The 2013 NASCAR Ford Fusion, unveiled last January, is slated for debut at Daytona Speedweeks. The final stage of the project began recently, with stamping of the various sheet metal components. That will allow all Ford racing teams to start building their cars for next year.
“We’ve had the design community engaged in developing the look of the car, and we’ve got the aerodynamicist involved for performance,” said Andy Slankard, manager, Ford Racing NASCAR Operations. “Now we took that combination and got together with the engineers and the stamping engineers to make sure we could physically manufacture the car,”
The time it took to produce and ship parts for the 2013 NASCAR Fusion was four months, whereas the same process for its production counterpart is generally a year to a year-and-a-half.
“The big difference between the prototype version like we’re doing with the race car and the production vehicles that we ship to regular customers is the compression of time,” said Tom Stebbins, program manager, Quality Metalcraft. “We did this in less than four months, from receiving the math data to shipping parts. In a production vehicle you’re probably looking more than a year from the time the concepts are started to the time we’ll actually ship parts, so this is vastly compressed. We have to move very, very quickly and it’s a lot different.”
Now the time has arrived for all of that work to finally take physical shape. The actual sheet metal that will be used to build the car is being stamped and shipped to every Ford race team.
“One challenge is dealing with the various teams, making sure that everyone’s requirements go into that part,” said Michael Dettloff, senior product designer, Roush Industries. “That’s probably the biggest obstacle someone on my end has to face. One team may want it this way, and another team may want it yet another way, so it’s a time-consuming process and we’ve got to get those compromises made.”
Adding even more pressure throughout the process is the fact all pieces need to conform to NASCAR’s inspection process, which takes place before and after each race.
“The car has a lot of characteristics in it, and NASCAR is working very hard to make templates that hold those tolerances in tight order,” Slankard said. “The good news is, through working with everyone involved, we were able to get the specifications we need to race during the 2013 season.”
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