Lincoln Christens its First Lap Dogs
By: Brad Nevin | Ford Communications Network
Lincoln has entered the 2004 One Lap of America with a 430-horsepower LS. Scores, photos, video and archived reports from the One Lap will be available on the Lincoln LS Owner's Club website throughout the event.
DEARBORN, Aril 30, 2004 -- Start your engines, and stock up on the No-Doz.
The One Lap of America driving event has begun, and this year for the first time ever, Lincoln has entered the competition with a supercharged 430-horsepower LS.
The annual Cannonball One Lap of America presented by Car and Driver magazine is a test of driver and vehicle endurance, as participants will drive over 5,600 miles in a little more than a week. The event takes place from April 30 to May 8. This year, the driving begins at Tire Rack company headquarters in South Bend, Indiana and continues on to timed events at race-tracks across the country. In between each event, participants typically get little sleep as they drive long hours through the night to get to the next venue on time.
Three Ford Motor Company Vehicle Dynamic Development engineers are competing in the One Lap this year. Chet Dhruna has worked at Ford for over six years and currently works on steering and all-wheel drive performance of a future sport-utility vehicle. Matt List has worked at Ford for six years and is currently developing steering and handling performance for the Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis and Lincoln Town Car. Jaime Venezia has worked at Ford four years and is in the middle of establishing the handling performance of a future Ford sport-utility vehicle.
The Lincoln LS One Lap drivers are (from left) Matt List, Chet Dhruna and Jamie Venezia.
The One Lap LS has a supercharged 4.6-liter V-8 engine that generates 430 horsepower.
The 2004 modified production Lincoln LS is competing in the mid-priced sedan class. Its supercharged 4.6-liter 2-valve V-8 engine has 430 horsepower at 5,250 rpm and 430 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,000 rpm. The engine is an aftermarket Roush Performance Products Stage 3 Mustang engine mated to a Mercury Marauder four-speed automatic transmission. Roush had to install a taller hood with an air vent on top to accommodate the engine. While this Roush Stage 3 engine is available for anyone to purchase and install, this high-powered LS is not available at your local Lincoln dealer; this One Lap LS is strictly an engineering exercise.
In addition to the Roush engine, the One Lap LS has also been lowered 25 mm in front and 20 mm in the back, it has a Sparco driver's racing seat and Cobra Brembo brake rotors with unique friction material. The wheels are forged BBS and measure 18x9 inches with P275/35/18 Michelin Pilot Sport2 tires.
From the first wet skid-pad event at Tire Rack headquarters in Indiana, the throng of Lap Dogs (as veteran participants call themselves) compete in timed race contests at Heartland Park in Kansas, Pikes Peak International Raceway in Colorado, Sears Point Raceway in California, Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Nevada, Pueblo Motorsports Park in Colorado, Hallett Motor Racing Circuit in Oklahoma, and Road America in Wisconsin. The last timed event, and the end of the One Lap, is back at Tire Rack headquarters in Indiana. In all, the 2004 Lap Dogs will drive a 5,628-mile route before a May 8 award presentation recognizing those vehicles that finish best-in-class.
"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for us, particularly when you consider that this is the first time that Ford Motor Company has decided to sponsor an entry into the One Lap of America competition," said Dhruna. "We want to make sure that we present our company and our product in a good light and at the same time take enjoyment in participating in such a great event."
To prepare their Lincoln LS for the One Lap, Dhruna, List and Venezia enlisted help from Roush, which completed the powertrain and driveline updates in Dearborn. After Roush installed the engine, "We focused for more than three months on completing the rest of the vehicle development in terms of steering, handling and braking performance," said Dhruna. "Beyond updating the vehicle with more performance-oriented hardware, we focused a lot of our time and energy in confirming the overall handling balance and capacity of the car. Several days were spent testing various tires at our test facilities along with checking other things like high-speed stability, ABS braking performance and overall acceleration capability."
Preparation like this is key to succeeding in the One Lap, as this description on www.onelapofamerica.com
attests: "The event, as it always has been, is foremost one of endurance and vehicle preparation. No support crews are allowed. The tires that are used on the street are the same ones that are raced on (one set per team). Although scoring is based on performance at the race-tracks, the vehicles and their drivers must survive over 5,000 miles of driving interspersed with the finest meals available at gas station convenience stores. Personal hygiene takes a holiday and friendships (sometimes marriages) are stretched to the limits as these competitors battle fatigue, weather, traffic and the demands of high-speed competition with both unknown amateurs and seasoned professional drivers like Parnelli Jones, Price Cobb, John Buffum, Elliot Forbes Robinson and Hurley Haywood."
The Ford team is not deterred.
"This is an opportunity for us at Ford Motor Company to demonstrate the capabilities of the Lincoln LS platform as well as for us to test and evaluate potential future engineering proposals in an arena like the One Lap," said Dhruna. "We are hoping to get great un-filtered customer comments on our vehicle as well as build an even stronger relationship with current Lincoln LS owners throughout the country."