DEARBORN, Mich. – Motorcraft/Quick Lane Racing ends a banner year this weekend as both its NHRA and NASCAR teams wrap up competition.
Records were set and new programs launched on the track and off. On the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series side, driver Paul Menard and longtime Motorcraft-sponsored Wood Brothers Racing finished in the top 10 five times, with a season-high sixth-place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway. The Ford EcoBoost 400 will be the last race with the team for Menard, as he will step away at the end of the season to spend more time with his family.
“I am looking forward to getting down to Homestead and competing for the 100th win for the Wood Brothers,” Menard said. “While I don’t view this as my last race ever, I am happy to be ending my full-time NASCAR career with Wood Brothers Racing. It has been an honor to run the iconic No. 21 and join the list of legends that have driven for the oldest team in the sport. There are things I am going to miss, especially all the folks I’ve worked with and come to know through the years, but I am most looking forward to some family time.”
On the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series side, Bob Tasca III reset both ends of his career bests this year in a brand-new Ford Mustang Funny Car designed by Ford Performance. His personal records for time and speed on the 1,000-foot track now sit at 3.855 seconds (St. Louis) and 335.32 mph (Reading, Pa).
Tasca also broke the sound barrier during a ride along in an F-15 at Nellis Air Force Base in October just days after bringing standout crew chief Mike Neff in house fulltime. He shares tuning duties with Jon Schaffer, whom he’d worked with before.
Tasca and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team have two wins, two runners-up and four semifinal finishes so far this season in the NHRA Mello Yello Series. They are currently fifth in the playoff standings.
“When we look back, this is going to be a breakout year for us,” Tasca said. “The Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Mustang is running on rails. I have all the confidence in the world in (Neff and Schaffer). Ford Performance did such a great job on this new Ford Mustang Funny Car body and we’re consistently going rounds on race day. I’m already looking forward to next year. I’ve never been so excited to be part of it.”
Off the track, Ford Customer Service Division (FCSD) launched one new initiative and expanded another. Heavy involvement in the NHRA Youth and Education Services (YES) program helped get the word out that Ford and Lincoln Dealerships have jobs to fill. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the automotive service technician industry will face a shortage of 45,000 technicians per year now through 2026.
More than 31,000 students have registered to attend YES events during the 2019 racing season, with one event yet to come this week in Pomona, Calif.
“The NHRA YES partnership is doing exactly what we hoped it would do,” said Jasmine Pendleton, Marketing Manager for FCSD. “It’s amazing to see all of the school busses roll in and know that every person on those busses could have a future with us. Bob is the perfect spokesperson for these initiatives. You can see he really connects with the students and believes in the message we’re bringing.”
Bringing in new technicians is one goal for Motorcraft/Quick Lane Racing. FCSD addressed the other, retaining talent already there, by partnering with Ford Service Engineering Operations (Ford SEO) to host the “Motor City Homecoming” for Ford and Lincoln Automotive Service Technicians who had maintained Senior Master status for 20 years. Guests attended the August NASCAR race at Michigan International Speedway, where they got to see their names of the sides of the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Mustang.
To become a Senior Master Tech, technicians complete 15 classroom courses, 57 online classes and must have five years of service at a Ford or Lincoln dealership. To maintain their Senior Master status, the technicians invited to the race had taken all new required training and two electives per year, for the last 20 years.
“Our goal with the 20-Year Senior Master event was to show how much we appreciate all of the hours these technicians have spent to reach the top of their field,” Pendleton said. “Bringing in new technicians is important, but having mentors already in place is just as important and we want to make sure we do what we can to help.”
The Auto Club NHRA Finals kicks off this Friday at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Calif. TV coverage begins with Friday Night Nitro Live from 5:30-7:30 p.m. ET Friday, Nov. 15 and continues on race day from 3-7 p.m. ET Sunday, also on FS1.
Coverage from the FordEcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway begins at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 17 on NBC, MRN and on the NBC Sports app.