LAS VEGAS, Oct. 30, 2012 ? The Ford Racing Mustang Cobra Jet concept
revealed today at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA)
show proves there is indeed a replacement for displacement.
In the perpetual quest to stay ahead of the competition, for the first
time ever Ford Racing has equipped its factory-built turnkey drag
racer with a turbocharged engine, adopting the same award-winning
technology found on road-going EcoBoost® engines.
When the original Mustang Cobra Jet drag racers rolled out of the
Mustang factory in 1968, they relied on 7.0-liter V8 engines with
massive four-barrel carburetors to propel them down the strip.
"When a new generation of Cobra Jets arrived four decades later,
they immediately began winning with a modern, fuel-injected 5.4-liter
V8 topped with a belt-driven supercharger," recalls Jesse
Kershaw, Ford drag racing competition manager. "Over the past
four years, the Cobra Jet has gone on to become both a fan and
competitor favorite, the most successful late-model vehicle in drag
"Racing predates Ford Motor Company. Henry Ford himself raced the
999 and won in 1901 to generate interest for the new company,"
said Jamie Allison, director of Ford Racing Technologies. "We
haven't stopped since.
"We've competed in almost every category of auto racing, from
deserts to road courses to ovals and drag strips over the past 111
years, often with cars and trucks based on our production models,
including the Mustang," Allison added.
In 2011, the Mustang GT's all-new 5.0-liter V8 found a home in the
Cobra Jet, both with and without a supercharger.
"Despite its smaller displacement, the improved breathing of the
5.0-liter with its twin independent variable camshaft timing and Boss
302 cylinder heads provided comparable performance while showcasing
the high technology available in street Mustangs today," said Rob
Deneweth, Cobra Jet powertrain development engineer.
"Ever since relaunching the Cobra Jet in 2008, we've continuously
evolved the engine to be more optimized for drag racing and to produce
more power for its NHRA class," he added.
While superchargers provide instant on-demand power, they can also sap
a lot of power, especially at high boost levels. The 2.9-liter blower
employed on the 2013 Cobra Jet uses as much as 100 horsepower to drive
the supercharger. That's power no longer available for acceleration.
Two turbochargers, no waiting
Fortunately, every internal combustion engine has a plentiful source
of energy that normally goes to waste right out the exhaust pipe.
Turbochargers harness the thermal and kinetic energy in the exhaust
gases to drive turbines and compressors that force more air into the
engine for a big increase in power without most of the parasitic
losses of a supercharger.
"Ford has embraced turbocharging technology and a lot of our
production engineers are working with the technology on a daily basis,
so we have a lot of knowledge," said Deneweth. "We decided
to apply that knowledge to the Mustang Cobra Jet to showcase what our
engineers and suppliers know how to do."
Turbocharger design and release engineer Dave Born joined the Cobra
Jet team after working on the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 for the F-150 to
help make this concept a reality. "When done right, turbocharging
is just as good as or better than supercharging," Born confirms.
"To overcome the biggest perceived drawback of turbocharging ?
the lag ? we've selected the smallest possible turbos that will give
us the airflow we need," he adds. "We've also got some other
enhancements to help improve the responsiveness; we have very low
inertia and very low internal friction."
NHRA competition rules for the stock classes Cobra Jet races in
require parts like turbochargers to be derived from production
components. Borg-Warner? has supplied smaller, more efficient
turbochargers based on the units used in the Focus ST for the Cobra
Jet concept. Smaller than those found in most other drag racing
applications, the turbine wheels are made from titanium aluminide that
reduces the rotational inertia by 50 percent. Along with a shaft
riding on low-friction ball bearings, the compressors can spin up to
150,000 rpm almost instantly.
The same integrated, electronically controlled wastegates used on
production EcoBoost engines enable the turbos to keep spinning and
generating the boost pressure needed for low elapsed times and high
trap speeds at the strip.
One of the top reasons for a car company to go racing is the rapid
learning curve it provides and the lessons that can be fed back into
the vehicles customers drive every day.
"We're already using ball bearings in the turbocharger of the
6.7-liter Power Stroke® diesel V8 in Super Duty trucks," says
Born. "We're also evaluating materials like titanium aluminide
for the turbine, and it could find its way into future production
programs as the costs come down."
New global Ford Racing livery
The Cobra Jet project car features its own unique take on the new
global Ford Racing livery that is also highlighted at SEMA. The white
body is accented with an asymmetric black and blue stripe running over
the top of the car from bumper to bumper. The Cobra Jet's flanks blend
an upward sweeping version of the stripe with the traditional striking
cobra head executed in black with blue accents.
Following the SEMA show, Ford Racing engineers including Deneweth and
Born will continue to develop both the performance and durability of
the twin-turbo Cobra Jet.
"For every Cobra Jet model we release, every powertrain goes
through hundreds of hours of dyno testing and a minimum of 50 runs on
the drag strip before we'll sign off on the durability and capability
of that engine and car," says Kershaw. "Like Ford vehicles
for the street, we want to provide our racing customers with cars that
are best-in-class, affordable and reliable."
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