It’s hard to believe that 2018’s championship winning Funny Car Toyota Camry is the oldest body style in use in NHRA’s Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
Chevrolet updated their Camaro SS shortly after John Force Racing returned to the Chevy fold; Mopar introduced its latest Dodge Hellcat SRT body style during last year’s Dodge Mile High Nationals in Denver, while Ford just debuted its latest Mustang body, newly assigned to Bob Tasca III and his eponymous team.
Ford returned to NHRA Funny Car after a three-year hiatus and, in late 2017, began developing its new Mustang body with a 2019 debut targeted. The new body, which was initially shown at the 2018 SEMA show, replaces a Mustang body that has been in use since 2009. While the older design had success with Tasca and Tim Wilkerson, Ford realized it was time for a new design to mirror the latest model road-going car – and aid aerodynamics at over 325mph.
As is customary, Ford began its design with computational fluid dynamics (CFD); what’s different is that the firm skipped a prototype model phase and went directly into building the car that Bob Tasca III brought, first to testing at Phoenix and later to the season-starting Lucas Oil Winternationals in Pomona. The use of CFD saved a bundle of money by placing more emphasis on scale models. This process is used in other Ford racecar development.
The actual new Ford Mustang body that Tasca used to record a semifinal result against eventual winner Robert Hight had a 10-day gestation in Michigan last October, was duly approved by NHRA and went to Tasca’s Brownsburg, IN shop for fitment by returning crew chief Eric Lane and co-crew chief Mike Green, most recently a floating crew chief and instigator of much development work at Don Schumacher Racing.
Bob Tasca III’s Motorcraft/Quick Lane NHRA Funny Car is the first off the rack, but Ford intends to have a new Mustang body in the hands of stalwart Tim Wilkerson before the first third of the 24-race season is complete. It’s not known whether Wilkerson’s new part-time teammate Blake Alexander, who intends to run half the season with his own Funny Car team, will have access to the new Ford Mustang body this year.