The 1999 season should go down in history as the turning point for import/sport compact racing. Prior to '99, Civics, CRXs and Integras were the first weapons of choice when attacking the 1320. In '99, the field expanded to encompass many other nameplates. Diamond Stars started to move into the mainstream with Sean Glazar, Dave Buschur and Brent Rau at the forefront. As the racing scene matured, so did the caliber of vehicles at the strip. Today, Supra twin-turbos, RX-7 twin-turbos, Nissan 300ZXs and high-dollar, tube-framed imports are becoming a common sight at race events across the country.
However, the real turning point for the import/sport compact racing scene revolves around the involvement of vehicle manufacturers. Ford Motor Company, ironically enough, is recognized as the first company to jump headlong into import/sport compact drag racing. Ford has definitely upped the ante, becoming involved with several race vehicles to compete in the import/sport compact racing scene and has supplied numerous cars to aftermarket parts companies for product development.
Some of the Focus racers under the Ford umbrella are Shaun Carlson's wild tube-framed front-wheel-drive Outlaw-Class contender and STR Racing's Quick Class competitor. Both vehicles utilize trick setups to attack each class and win. One vehicle also under the Ford backing is Ben Ma's newly acquired tube-frame rear-drive D Ford Focus Pro Class competitor. If the Einstein graphic looks familiar, it should-the Blue Oval was originally built and owned by British racer Wayne Saunders. While in Wayne's stable, the Focus sported a silver paint scheme with Albert's mug on the hood and not the rally-painted carbon fiber pieces we see here. With the help of Ford and Borla, Ben purchased the Focus and plans to campaign the vehicle throughout the United States. What makes this Ford tick? Let's see.
Putting Ben's Focus under the magnifying glass, we find the only factory-issue piece still utilized are the steel rear fenders. Every other part onthe Focus was either custom fabricated or borrowed from another Ford-labeled vehicle. At first glance, its extra-wide gumballs out back and parachute makes it plain to see this isn't your average Focus. The body is constructed of carbon fiber panels with the exception of the steel rear fenders. A peek under the panels and we find a full tube- framed chassis built with chrome-moly tubing. The chassis incorporates custom Koni MacPherson-style struts up front and dampers out back. Each Koni coil-over shock offers full ride height and dampening adjustability to precisely dial-in the suspension.
Powering the Focus into 7-second territory is a fully built Cosworth engine borrowed from the RS2000. Julian Godfrey was in charge of building and assembling the entire powerplant. The 2.1-liter, turbo four-cylinder was torn down to the essentials prior to the build-up. The block, which is a special, rare race-bred unit, was fitted with a Doug Kiddie custom crankshaft that swings Crower titanium rods and Mahle 8.0:1 compression slugs.
Up top, the DOHC Cosworth head was given a mild port and polish by Julian and stuffed with a 35.5 mm titanium intake and 31.5 mm stainless-steel exhaust valves. Controlling valvetrain events is a pair of Z114 camshafts. Attached to the exhaust ports is a custom-fabricated, stainless-steel exhaust manifold. The manifold collects the exhaust gases and directs them to a Turbonetics T40S turbocharger.
A single Turbonetics wastegate regulates boost pressure to a stratospheric 3 bar (44.1 psi) of boost pressure. Spent gas is then routed to a 3.5-inch downpipe feeding into a Borla titanium XR-2 exhaust can. Turbo compressed charge air is fed through 2.5-inch intercooler piping, dumping into a trick intercooler set-up. Most race vehicles either utilize an air-to-air or an air-to-liquid intercooler. However, the Focus utilizes both. Charge air is first fed through a front-mounted, air-to-air intercooler; then the air is further cooled with an air-to-liquid unit. The super-chilled charge is then forced through an 80 mm throttle body, feeding into a custom Formula 1 Megatron sheetmetal manifold.
With so much invested into the powerplant, a top-of-the-line EFI Technology sequential engine management system was put in command of vital engine operating parameters. The EFI unit is called upon to control eight Bosch injectors. The four secondaries are brought online when positive manifold pressure is realized. This set up offers better response time off the line and lessens the chance of flooding of the engine. On the ignition end, Ford plug wires and coils light off Bosch spark plugs.
Transferring the power from the engine to the Liberty air-shifted, five-speed gearbox is a billet two-plate custom Ram clutch. An aluminum driveshaft turns a 9-inch Ford center section with a Strange Engineering spool. The unit is housed in a custom Strange aluminum housing. Heavy-duty Strange axles turn a pair of extra sticky 16x32-inch Goodyear gumballs. Since bringing the vehicle to a complete halt is also of prime concern, big Strange discs and calipers are on call at the corners.
To date, the vehicle has posted a best e.t. of 7.67 at over 170-plus mph in England and an 8.05 in the States with Wayne behind the wheel. Since then, the vehicle has posted a mid- 8-second run with Ben behind the wheel. At the last IDRC Pomona event, Ben lost control of the Focus, causing the Ford to smack the retaining wall and roll on its side. Fortunately, Ben walked away unscathed; that was not the case for the Focus. Don't worry, though, the Ford is already back together with a brand-new carbon fiber body and a new front end. Ben admits it will take him some time to get used to the car, but he is confident he will crank out some 7-second timeslips. Be on the lookout: This Ford is focusing on taking down the competition.