Mustang Dark Horse R Is A $145,000 Pony With Its Own Racing Series

When Ford debuted the seventh-generation Mustang, the company promised a range of racing pony cars. Having already followed through with the Mustang GT3 and GT4, the latest racing model is targeted at grassroots racers and it will star in its own IMSA racing series — the Mustang Challenge.

Dark Horse R offers our passionate customers not just an attainable, factory-built race car, but also a racing series to compete with other Mustang enthusiasts. —Mark Rushbrook, Ford Performance Motorsports

Based on the production 2024 Mustang Dark Horse, this turn-key racer is similar to the production model, but features upgrades geared toward the racetrack.

Mustang Dark Horse R

Ford Performance revealed its latest turn-key 2024 Mustang racer today in Charlotte — the Dark Horse R. Look for this R-model to compete in its own single-marque racing series backed by IMSA and managed by the Ford Performance Racing School. The full schedule will be announced in the near future, but the series will offer contingency payouts and a season championship.

“Mustang Dark Horse R bridges the gap between Dark Horse and Mustang GT3 and GT4,” Mark Rushbrook, global director, Ford Performance Motorsports states. “Production-based Mustang vehicles have raced from the very beginning, all the way back to winning the 1964 Tour de France, even. Dark Horse R offers our passionate customers not just an attainable, factory-built race car, but also a racing series to compete with other Mustang enthusiasts.”

Upgraded with chassis seam welds, a roll change, a Motec EFI system, and more, the turn-key Dark Horse R is built to gallop at the racetrack. Based on a seam-welded chassis fitted with Multimatic dampers and robust adjustable camber plates, the Mustang Dark Horse R eschews the factory digital HMI in favor of a Motec display linked to a Motec EFI system which is supplied ample fuel from a fuel cell fitted with factory fuel pumps feeding the same dual-fuel Coyote 5.0-liter engine that propels the factory version.

“Mustang Dark Horse R has been developed with Mustang racing enthusiasts top of mind,” Jim Owens, Ford Mustang Marketing Manager says. “Ford Performance leaned into countless areas of expertise developed through years of racing the Mustang and honed in on an aggressive yet approachable package for customers to pick up and play with.”

Playing with others is always more fun, so Ford Performance Motorsport partnered with IMSA to develop a new spec racing series for the Dark Horse R. The series will run on 10 to 12 races next year with as many as six events running in conjunction with IMSA race weekends. 

Mustang Dark Horse R

Powered by a largely stock powertrain, right down to the OE clutch, the Dark Horse R’s Coyote 5.0-liter breathes a little deeper without carbon traps in the air inlet tubes and howls a little louder thanks to headers and a Borla racing exhaust. It sounds wonderfully aggressive and makes a little more power than a production Dark Horse.

“The new Mustang Challenge series is a perfect addition to our IMSA family and we are grateful to our longtime partners at Ford for trusting us to be the sanctioning body for this spectacular new platform,” IMSA President John Doonan says. “When I was a little boy going to the racetrack, I vividly remember the rumble of the Mustang race cars and their V8 power, so imagining a full field of Dark Horse Rs charging into Turn 1 for the first time on an IMSA race weekend will bring back a flood of memories and be awe-inspiring.”

Managed by the Ford Performance Racing School, the series’ races will include two practice sessions, one qualifying session, and two sprint races. Top finishers each weekend will receive contingency payouts and at the end of the season, the top driver will earn a series championship.

Fitted with Ford Performance Parts R1 Flow-Formed Wheels (19x10.5-inch front, 19x11-inch rear) that are available for any S650 owner, the Dark Horse R wears an optional, Bespoke Michelin 19-inch slick race tire designated for Mustang Challenge competition. The suspension benefits from stiffer springs and dampers, along with Multimatic dampers aligned by these robust, shim-adjustable camber plates.

“Mustang Dark Horse R owners will have the opportunity to race and test their driving skills with other Mustang enthusiasts at some of the world’s most incredible tracks,” Rushbrook says.

With a starting price of $145,000, the Dark Horse R will gallop into race shops in advance of the soon-to-be-announced 2024 Mustang Challenge season early next year. However, in addition to the dedicated series, this latest R-model should fit nicely in several grassroots racing categories.

2024 Mustang Dark Horse R Upgrades


• Front and rear tow hooks

• Reinforced jacking points

• Underbody tie-down hoops


• Recaro FIA racing seat

• Sparco quick-release steering wheel

• Sparco FIA racing harness

• Sparco FIA fire suppression system

• Safecraft FIA safety nets

• Driver keypad and button controls

• MoTeC data display and logging system

• Fuel cell


• Upgraded oil system

• Upgraded transmission cooling

• Upgraded differential cooling

• Borla racing exhaust system

• Ford Performance oil pan


• Roll cage

• Multimatic DSSV dampers

• Adjustable front camber plates

• Adjustable anti-roll bars

• Select seam welding


• Performance ABS

• Brembo race calipers – Front

• Brembo race rotors – Front

• Brembo race pads 

• Race brake cooling ducts

• Ford Performance Parts R1 Flow-Formed Wheels (19×10.5-inch front, 19×11-inch rear)

• Bespoke Michelin 19-inch slick race tire for Mustang Challenge, sold separately

• MSI wheel studs and open lug nuts

Article Sources

More Sources

About the author

Steve Turner

Steve Turner brings decades of passion and knowledge in the world of Ford performance, having covered it for over 20 years. From the swan song of the Fox Mustang to the birth of the Coyote, Steve had a front-row seat.
Read My Articles

Blue Oval Muscle in your inbox.

Build your own custom newsletter with the content you love from FordMuscle, directly to your inbox, absolutely FREE!

Free WordPress Themes