The American Canadian Tour (ACT) has announced that the Ford S347JR crate engine has been approved for competition starting immediately.
For the past eighteen months the engineers from Ford Racing in Dearborn, Michigan have been working in conjunction with ACT motor builders Butler & MacMaster of Hallowell, Maine on the research and development of a Ford crate engine that will be compatible with the GM ZZ4 crate engine.
“It has taken a little longer than we had anticipated, but we wanted to make certain that the Ford program is going to fit our business model”, said Tom Curley, President of the American Canadian Tour. “The important thing here was to make sure that the Ford and GM motors match up without one having an advantage over the other. It was just as important to have each motor capable of winning on our weekly tracks or at Tour events. I think we have accomplished that after several changes over the past few months. I can’t say enough about the cooperation we have had from Ford, Dave MacMaster and especially Kendell Legendre and Cris Michaud who have spent many hours preparing the car, and then have tested no less than seven or eight times to help bring this project to fruition”, continued Curley.
Ford has shown a serious interest in getting back into grass roots racing at the local and regional level. The ACT business model, which puts a priority on weekly racing with select regional touring events in New England and the provinces of Quebec and Ontario, was tailor-made for the Ford crate engine program. Mike Delahanty, Program Manager Sportsman Circle Track Racing for Ford said. “All of us at Ford Racing are excited to have the S347JR engine now approved to compete in one of the premier racing series in North America, ACT. This has been one of the most rigorous approval processes yet for the Ford crate engines, and we expect to see Ford contending for ACT wins before the 2009 season is done. Special thanks to the team of Cris Michaud and Kendell Legendre for their tireless efforts in testing and development.”
The Michaud team has also competed in three ACT Tour events this season, while working to develop the Ford crate engine. The first event at the 4/10th oval at Lee USA in New Hampshire in April resulted in a 15th place first time effort in a field of 30 cars. The Merchants Bank team then headed to their home track, a ¼ mile bullring nicknamed the ‘Site of Excitement’, Thunder Road. The three-time King of the Road, Michaud, finished a respectable, but uncharacteristic, 16th, in the 30-car field. More testing was conducted at the super-fast, reconfigured, ½ mile Airborne Speedway in Plattsburgh, NY. In a head-to-head test with veteran Airborne Champion Brent Dragon, and with input from both Michaud and Dragon, it was clear that some additional work needed to be done on the Ford project.
Enter Dave MacMaster, who worked with Ford Racing engineers to bring the compression up to exact tolerance levels. More testing took place at White Mountain Motorsports Park and Thunder Road. Finally, at the Thunder Road Memorial Day Classic ACT Tour event, Michaud raced his Ford from a 26th starting spot to a 4th place finish as many Thunder Road fans have become used to seeing over the past ten years. Michaud was a serious contender to win, but got stalled behind a set of double file racing and just plain ran out of laps in the 100-lap event as he made his charge to the front.
“I first have to thank Kendell Legendre for all the work he put into getting our car converted to be able to handle the Ford engine. I also want to thank Ford Racing, Dave MacMaster and ACT for finally getting Ford into the game. I am especially pleased that Tom (Curley) asked me to test this new crate program for Ford. I remember 10 years ago when I was out of motors and ready to hang things up, Tom asked me to be the first to test the original GM crate. I feel like we have come full circle. Now I need to get Ford its first win in ACT racing, and a 4th Thunder Road King of the Road title in a Ford would really be sweet, especially during this 50th season celebration”, said Michaud.
The first chance for Ford to officially enter the ACT Winner’s Circle will be opening night at Thunder Road, June 11, 2009. Thunder Road will open for the 50th season of Thursday night racing with the Ferguson Waterworks trophy dashes. Gates will open at 5:00 and post time is 6:30. Admission is only $9.50 for adults and a family of two adults and two kids 6-12 can enter for only $20.