The mission given Don Miller on January 27, 1997, was simple--build a race car. Not just any car, mind you. Build the car that would carry the Ford racing tradition well into the twenty-first century in the premier NASCAR Winston Cup Series. And, by the way, build it fast. Ford wanted the car to be ready for the 1998 season--NASCAR's fiftieth anniversary.
These were the challenges that faced Miller and his team at Penske Racing South. And Ford Taurus in NASCAR is the thrilling story behind the response to those challenges. At the time, Miller was going about his daily business of fielding one of Ford's most competitive Thunderbirds for driver Rusty Wallace, but soon Miller had sketched his idea of the Taurus race car that Ford would unveil to other teams and NASCAR's technical directors in 107 days.
The project moved quickly from concept to 40-percent models for wind tunnel testing to the first full-sized Taurus, which was revealed to the public on July 30, 1997. But the work had just begun.
The new Taurus wasn't tested on a track until December 5, 1997--just two months before the car's racing debut. Still, it won its first race on February 8, 1998, when Wallace triumphed in the Bud Shootout at Daytona International Speedway.
The future for Ford Racing was secured.
Throughout 1998 and 1999 the success of the Taurus continued. And now, as the 2000 season approaches, Ford prepares its latest entry--the Taurus 2K. From vision to victory lane, Ford Racing continues its winning tradition and Ford Taurus in NASCARcelebrates the excitement of its success.
Ford has been part of NASCAR racing since day one. Jim Roper drove to victory, at NASCAR's inaugural Strictly Stock Series race, later the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, in a Lincoln on June 19, 1949. And throughout the history of NASCAR, the names of Ford drivers have resembled a Who's Who of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series--Ned and Dale Jarrett, Bobby and Davey Allison, David Pearson, Bill Elliott, Mark Martin, Fred Lorenzen, Junior Johnson, Fireball Roberts, Rusty Wallace, and Ricky Rudd. Even Richard Petty won races in Fords. So, too, did Dale Earnhardt. Roper's Lincoln started a tradition that runs through the Taurus that carries Ford Racing forward into the twenty-first century.
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Bill Center is a distinguished sportswriter who has covered NASCAR and various motor sports events over the past twenty years. A writer for The San Diego Union-Tribune since 1967, Bill's feature stories on motor racing, boxing, baseball,and basketball received numerous awards. Bill's editorial achievements include authoring America's Cup '95, The Official Record.
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