Somewhere, deep within the bowels of an underground bunker in Detroit there’s a locked room with a genius inside. He’s never allowed to see daylight or talk to people, but he comes up with some of the best ideas ever. Proof of that are the infrequent moments of inspiration that turn up with a Blue Oval. He clearly works for the RS/SVT department and is allowed to watch X Games. We have to also assume it was his idea to hire the biggest names in action sports and X Games to drive for Ford.
As a result, FoMoCo has a roster that makes girls faint. It includes Ken Block in WRC, Tanner Foust in rallycross, Brian Deegan in rallycross and off-road plus Vaughn Gittin Jr in drifting.
Each of them is a superstar in his own right, but Ford has brought them together for its Octane Academy. The concept is to give regular Joes the opportunity to live like a rockstar, get a glimpse into the lives of your motorsport heroes, and possibly uncover the next action superstar.
During the summer X Games, Ford ran a series of TV commercials to promote the academy. Entry was simple – submit a video of yourself explaining why you should be considered. A total of 32 fans will be selected, with eight spending a day behind the wheel of an F-150 SVT Raptor with Deegan when the first fantasy camp kicks off in November. Another eight will be driving Fiestas with Block, Gittin Jr will introduce competitors to drifting in a Mustang, while Foust will show off the new Focus ST. The best driver from each of these camps will then win the Ford of their choice.
Why are we telling you this when it’s already too late to submit an entry? Well, hopefully you saw this post online at eurotuner.com before the deadline had past and joined the 6000 entrants who had filed applications. If not, this is our opportunity to let you know that Fuel TV has picked up the Octane Academy and will broadcast a 13-episode series in 2012 following the exploits of each driver’s camp.
To get a taste of what the competitors might experience, we were invited to Ford’s Michigan Proving Grounds to meet the drivers and perform some tricks ourselves.
In a private eurotuner battle, Neill took an early points lead on the day by managing to avoid spinning Gittin Jr’s Mustang for a few feet longer than I did. However, that was his only high. After that, I demolished him in Foust’s 180˚ and 360˚ Focus spins and set the fastest time of the day on Block’s gravel rally stage. If you meet Neill, ask him about his Fiesta rally experience. Let’s just say he saw more stars than Ken Block!
There’s more details about our activities online but unfortunately, Ford’s lawyers wouldn’t let us race off-road in Deegan’s Raptor, suggesting we reverse through cones instead (weak sauce!). However, the X Games gold medalist, complete with a blackeye from his recent boxing match against Dave Mirra, gave us the ride of a lifetime around the off-road course. We had no idea a Raptor could catch so much air, and Deegan’s giggling as he tackled every turn too fast made it a memorable jaunt.
Quite what the drivers and lawyers will allow Octane Academy contestants do on TV has yet to be decided. You’ll find out soon by tuning to Fuel TV, and if they have half as much fun as we did, it should make interesting viewing.
For updates on Octane Academy, visit octaneacademy.com