It's been a pretty severe winter up in Detroit, so my buddy Keith was pretty stoked to get the chance to drive his Ice Nine Fiesta St on the "track" Barrett Jackson had set up in their Ride & Drive area last week in Scottsdale. As short as it was, it gave him his first shot at putting the pedal to the ground. It was no "Optima Challenge," but it was just a glimpse at what this SEMA show car will do....
So we are set up in Scottsdale for the annual kick off to Barrett Jackson's Auction season. This year set record numbers for attendance and the crowd did not disappoint. Tuesday and Wednesday set single day records and the ride and drive area that Ford and GM had set up saw record numbers as well. Why is this important? This event is a good indicator to not only how the classic car market is improving but also tourism and new car sales.
Our Fiesta ST race car was on display for the first couple days in Ford's booth. Their display is prime real estate since every single person that attends the auction enters through Ford's booth. On Thursday evening we needed to make room for another car in the booth, Rusty Wallace's hot rod that went across the block, so I offered up to move my ST down to the ride and drive area. Ford decided to take advantage of having a fully prepped race car doing hot laps. Of course that worked out great for me as I had not yet had the chance to turn the wick up.
Day one on the track. The ride and drive track layout is really tight, which I'm sure is by design to keep the speed down for Joe Public while test driving production daily driver rides. GM brought out Bondurant piloted C7's and Ford had the pro's from Miller taking people for "spirited" rides in Boss 302's and GT500's. The tight track benefited me a bunch as I could run harder than the bigger cars. Turn the power up, brake later and in some cases not brake at all. The track layout had some nice chicanes, a decent back straight and a couple of really tight hairpins. I took it pretty easy the first couple laps, pulling in to check tire temps, oil level,etc. Then on it. That's when the little issues popped up. Nothing major though. A slight tire rub, the brake bias was a bit off and the suspension needed adjustment. So after a bunch of adjustments I hit the track again to start pushing a bit harder. That's when the pro drivers took notice. We know from experience that the Boss 302 is a good track car. It's in fact a better choice than the GT500 for twisty stuff. After the changes I went back out and the gentleman that runs the event asked me to follow the Mustangs around. Partially for a branding issue and partially due to the public driving at a much slower rate. That's when the fun started and the ST started to shine. The drivers in the Boss's had a little Fiesta ST in their mirror and really couldn't shake me. I know it had a lot to do with the fact the track was so tight and the changes really improved the car. By mid day the guys all wanted to know what we had done to the car and asked if they could drive it. the ride and drive participants were asking for rides in it! Due to insurance issues I could not take them out.
Day two started interesting. I was asked to have the car out on track as FoxSports had their helicopter out filming and I got to get some more testing in. I am really looking forward to getting the car out on a bigger track and if the last couple days are any indication to what the car is capable of we are gonna have some fun this summer….
Built by Ice Nine Group
Engine: Gasoline — 1.6L GTDI EcoBoost