Enthusiasts

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SEP 28, 2011

FORD RACING POWERS UP CONNECTION WITH ENTHUSIASTS

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DEARBORN, MI (Sept., 2011)

- Sharp-eyed Ford performance enthusiasts will notice a brand new face and place for one of their favorite Web sites, FordPerformanceGroup.com. That's because the Ford Performance Group enthusiast outreach program, a unique customer interface launched by Ford Racing back in 2006, has finally found a permanent online home on the recently revamped Racing.Ford.com.

We hope the move will make it easier for you to find and enjoy the kind of unique Ford enthusiast, club, event and specialty car content that has made this site a true virtual connection between Ford Motor Company and its legion of loyalists. From special coverage of major Ford and club events, to unique stories from Ford fans, to official Ford build info on many of today's most collectible performance Fords, the new "Enthusiasts" section of Racing.Ford.com offers content that you simply can't find anywhere else.

We've actually been involved in giving you the deep-dive stories behind Ford performance vehicles and the people who enjoy them since 1995, when we had launched the first Web site for Ford Special Vehicle Team products. After several revamps, that award-winning SVT site saw a major expansion for 2002, before serving as a specialty GT500 and SVT backgrounder on the old Ford vehicles web site for 2005. After Ford Racing launched its Ford Performance Group initiative, the site was again redesigned as the online home for the Ford Performance Group of enthusiast organizations, anchored by the likes of the Mustang Club of America and the SVT Owners Association as the charter clubs promoted by FPG.

We think it's important you know that, like you, the people who work at Ford Racing also "bleed Ford blue." From our car-guy managers to the hot-rod engineers to the motorhead marketers, even the tech-heads on the Ford Performance Info Line - you've gotta "love it, know it, and show it" around here to be successful.

Fans may think the primary focus of Ford Racing is simply to help racers who drive Fords go flat-out faster to the finish line. But in reality, the main purpose behind Ford Racing is to help build the Ford brand in the hearts, minds and eyes of everyday consumers. Racing and winning on the professional stage shows off to the world a car company's engineering expertise and product integrity - and thus, it helps influence sales. Just as important, racing success on the grassroots level also drives brand awareness and purchase consideration with real-world car buyers.

Research proves that enthusiasts - including racers, amateur sportsmen, car collectors, car club members and active brand loyalists - all serve to drive word-of-mouth sales by promoting a company's image as they interact with fellow car-buyers on their own turf. Enthusiasts also happen to enjoy modifying and personalizing their vehicles, which is why Ford Racing offers a full range of products to help serve customers who want more for their cars than what comes from the factory.

The annual Ford Racing Performance Parts catalog is like a " Christmas Wish Book" for Ford enthusiasts, offering the latest and greatest hardware to help many of us make our performance dreams come true - and the 2012 version that went to press as of this writing is no exception. But our catalog also serves as a very real physical link between Ford's on-track racing operations and its production-car engineering credibility.

"Track-bred = street cred" is more than just a slogan for the Ford Racing Performance Parts business. It's as much a mantra for how we develop new products as it is a purchase-driver for Ford performance enthusiasts. More importantly, as our overall product guideline it demonstrates Ford Racing's commitment to enhancing the ownership experience for you, our most passionate of Ford fans.

But at Ford Racing, the connection to enthusiasts goes far beyond simply the selection, quality and value of the parts in the FRPP catalog. It is truly a personal relationship that we work to grow and improve upon every day. As racing and performance vehicle fans ourselves, we well know that enthusiast owners are among the most vocal and visible of all Ford brand loyalists. Making performance products that satisfy their desires serves to activate them at the grassroots level as "disciples" who preach the Ford "gospel" to their peers. And that kind of direct third-party endorsement sends a very influential message to our prospective customers.

Fueled by the unequaled popularity of the Mustang, it's a fact that there are far more Ford-based vehicle clubs than any other automotive marque. Instead of building cars as mere appliances, like many of the import brands, Ford has a heritage of building cars and trucks that connect with owners on an emotional level. Such a connection between car and owner has enabled Ford to amass a veritable army of loyal enthusiasts over the years that is the envy of nearly every other automaker on the planet. So now you can see why import manufacturers are asking their product teams to devise cars that "evoke more of an emotional connection with owners," and why other carmakers are now hard at work devising marketing "brand disciple" strategies of their own

In today's world, customers don't particularly like being "sold to" and don't entirely trust what they hear about a product from big corporations or manufacturers' ads. On top of that, many no longer even trust what they hear or read about a product in the media! More and more, people are putting their purchasing faith in personal recommendations from their friends, neighbors, coworkers and acquaintances - and that's precisely where we as Ford loyalists can play a major role in asking your non-Ford peers to "Drive One."

To that end, Ford Racing has spearheaded several initiatives designed specifically to help Ford Motor Company build on this key relationship with loyalists - not the least of which the Ford Performance Group enthusiast outreach program, which puts a "face" and a "place" on Ford's connection to vehicle clubs and the performance aftermarket. Using an umbrella approach, we created the Ford Performance Group of enthusiast organizations - a collection of independent clubs whose members can enjoy a variety of benefits beyond the establishment of an online information clearinghouse. Thanks to all those years of working with enthusiasts at the grassroots level, Ford Racing is able to offer these clubs what they had told us they wanted the most - a sustainable connection with the company.

Anchoring the program is the special "Enthusiast" section of the recently revamped Racing.Ford.com web site that establishes an online footprint for Ford's relationship with its past, present and future performance customers. Its goal is to help promote Ford-based clubs and their activities, centralize the company's contact with, and promotion for, the myriad of Ford-centered events across the country each year, and provide a web showcase for how performance vehicle ownership opens the door to an entire Ford enthusiast lifestyle - all in one place.

Ford Racing has institutionalized this connection with enthusiast clubs as part of our core business, primarily because we are enthusiasts, too! We know that our friends and neighbors recognize us as being car-savvy, and as opinion leaders we don't mind sharing our thoughts when car shoppers seek us out to get advice. We like to show off our performance or classic Ford because we don't just drive it from Point A to Point B - we LOVE it, and openly show our affection for it in public! The other part of our effort involves making face-to-face connections, one show, one club and even one person at a time. It's why you can see our products and talk to Ford Racing staffers in-person at automotive events and car shows all across the country.

Oh sure, a lot of other car companies put marketing efforts into racing and enthusiast events for that same reason. The influence of you, the enthusiast owner, has even attracted other Ford groups - both inside the company and via our agencies - to look at enthusiast marketing programs of their own. While those may come and go, Ford Racing has made a true connection to, and interaction with, fans, racers and enthusiasts a part of what we do each day.

Just like Ford's 1-2-3 finish at LeMans in 1966, Ford Racing's got an impossible-to-beat 1-2-3 enthusiast program at work for you to utilize. 1.) is our own Enthusiast web space on Racing.Ford.com, with content for, by, and about YOU. 2.) is our weekly " Fast News From Ford Racing" e-newsletter that we send out to more than 400,000 Ford fans, plus the daily updates you'll find on our Ford Racing Facebook page. And 3.) is our toll-free 1-800-FORD-788 Ford Performance Info Center and Ford Racing Tech Line, where you can get vehicle, product, club and event information - and even expert technical advice on Ford performance engines and hardware.

Together, they provide the only service of its kind offered by any of the major automakers. The fact is, no other carmaker promotes their enthusiast clubs this directly, communicates with fans this consistently,nor offers their loyal performance customers this kind of direct, toll-free assistance line to the factory.

If you appreciate the idea that Ford has put into place a program to stay connected with you as a Ford performance enthusiast, then we suggest that you employ and enjoy this unique relationship. For starters, you should bookmark Racing.Ford.com and sign up for our weekly Fast News e-newsletter, where you'll get the inside story on what's happening in the world of Ford performance. Then check out our "Enthusiast" section and visit it regularly. You should also become friends on our Facebook page. And don't hesitate to call the Ford Performance Info Center (1-800-FORD-788) if you have a question about past and present performance Fords, want to share an idea about Ford products you'd like to see, or need to tap into the experts on the Ford Racing Tech Line. And don't forget to ask about our special Ford enthusiast merchandise available through the Info Center via www.FordShowParts.com.

Finally, by all means get out there and enjoy your performance Ford! Head out to the racetrack and cheer on your favorite Ford vehicle! Find a club and attend a meeting, a car show, cruise, or any driving or racing event - and discover the fun and all the friendly people involved in the world of Ford performance. Hopefully, we'll all be " Driving Ford Passion" with Ford Racing and its Ford Performance Group of enthusiast organizations for many more years to come!

Photos Courtesy Ford Performance Group