For the first time in 40 years, a Ford will serve as official pace car for the Daytona 500. Bringing the field to the green flag for NASCAR's 2010 Sprint Cup season opener on February 14th will be this specially tweaked 2011 Mustang GT coupe. The last Ford to do those honors at a Daytona 500 was a Torino GT convertible back in 1970.
In addition to performing its on-track race-day duties, the official 2011 Mustang GT race pacer will be one of the highlight attractions at this weekend's 39th annual Barrett-Jackson collector car auction in Scottsdale, Arizona. There, with the help of seven-time Daytona 500 winner Richard Petty who'll present it to the winning bidder, the car will be auctioned off for charity with proceeds going to support the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Beyond its Race Red paint, special Daytona 500 graphics and a Panoramic glass roof, the Mustang GT pace car gets a Ford Racing suspension package, front strut-tower brace and mufflers, upgraded Brembo brakes, and 19-inch painted alloy wheels wrapped in summer performance tires plus special interior trim enhancements and custom door-sill plates. Like other 2011 Mustang GT's, it will be fitted with Ford's new 5.0-liter V8 that makes 412 horsepower and 390 lb.-ft. of torque. For Mustang fans on a slightly more constrained budget, Ford also plans to build a limited series of 50 additional Daytona 500 Pace Car replicas, although pricing for those vehicles has not yet been released.