Ford Performance made a significant announcement by unveiling the Dark Horse R earlier this year. This isn’t just another high-performance vehicle; it’s a racing variant of the already potent Dark Horse, complete with its own race series backed by IMSA. While the schedule has been available for some time, the full initiative is now finalized, offering more comprehensive details that include race dates, structure, and prize money.
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The inaugural season of the Mustang Challenge is slated to kick off in June 2024, serving as the home series for the Mustang Dark Horse R. Notable changes to the original schedule include a rescheduled date for Watkins Glen International and a new finale location at the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Each IMSA-sanctioned event will consist of two practice sessions, a single qualifying session, and two sprint races. Of particular significance, prize winnings have been announced, offering the enticing possibility of advancing to the Mustang GT4 or Mustang GT3.
While the majority of the original schedule remains intact, there has been a change in the date for Watkins Glen, which is now scheduled for June 20th-23rd. The Mustang Challenge will conclude its series at the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway, followed by the SRO Indianapolis 8-hour presented by AWS endurance race, forming a part of the Intercontinental GT Challenge championship.
The race schedule will include two 30-minute practice sessions, one 15-minute qualifying session, and two 45-minute sprint races. The series can accommodate up to 40 full-season entries, with the possibility of accepting additional entries after the first round. It will also be divided into two distinct classes: Dark Horse and Dark Horse Legends. The latter is designed for participants aged 45 and over, often defying the stereotype of being slow, as they continue to race with the same speed and enthusiasm as the younger competitors.
Michelin has introduced a brand-new racing tire for the series, and each race team will have the option to acquire three fresh sets of the 295/30R-19 tires at every race event. Besides the availability of race tire purchases, teams will also have the opportunity to buy parts directly from Ford at the track. Additionally, given the shared components between the Dark Horse R chassis and production-based cars, they can also turn to their local Ford dealers for parts.
Among the significant announcements, the most notable pertains to the prize money and prize structure. Instead of solely offering a cash reward to the racer who finishes in the 1st place overall, Ford Performance has unveiled a tiered system, providing racers with the choice between a $40,000 cash prize or a $100,000 scholarship for a seat in a Mustang GT3 or Mustang GT4 in the following year. Both paths include a test day in a Mustang GT4.
Additionally, Michelin will present the overall season champion, racing a Mustang Dark Horse R, Mustang GT4, or Mustang GT3 in a Michelin series the following year, with a set of tires for each race weekend.
Those who finish 2nd and 3rd in the overall championship will also receive cash payouts of $20,000 and $10,000, respectively. The Dark Horse Legends champion will be awarded either a $20,000 cash prize or a test day in a Mustang GT4
It seems like the Mustang Challenge is truly shaping up to be a great series. We’re looking forward to seeing which drivers come up and make a name for themselves in this series. Now, if only I could pinch a few pennies to afford a Dark Horse R myself for some great times on track!