Last September I attended the GT350 North American Track Tour at picturesque Lime Rock Park. This is where I was first introduced to the Shelby GT350...IN THE RAIN! When I was given the opportunity to attend the GT350 Track Tour at Pocono I jumped at the chance.
I pulled into the track around 7 am, an hour before registration opened. The first thing I saw was the familiar Ford Performance garage in the distance. Being the first day of the track tour, workers were busy with last minute preparations. In the background I could hear the fleet of GT350's taking warm up laps on the track. I ventured over to the pit garage area where there were a few Shelbys parked before making my way to the Ford Performance display. Inside there were many of the toys in the Ford Performance collection, Fiesta ST, soon to be released Focus RS and F150 Raptor, and a bright red Shelby GT350R front and center.
After registration we were separated into four groups, ours was to start with the driving portion. After a quick driver safety orientation it was time to head to the infield road course. My group of 16 would be hitting the track in one of 7 cars, a mix of standard GT350 and GT350R models. Once suited up with helmet and HANS device I stayed to the back of the line. At these driving events there are many skill levels present and driving with a large group would inevitably mean you would have to slow down for car in front of you. When my turn came around there would only be two cars on the track. I climbed in to an all black GT350R, chassis number PP004. Once in the car my instructor from the Ford Performance Racing School explained to me that most of the track would be run in 3rd gear, giving the opportunity to run the 526 horsepower 5.2L flat plane crank mill to its 8250 rpm redline. Out on the track is where the fun really began. The R is flat in the corners and the acceleration is instantaneous. As the revs come up your mind is telling you to shift but this car wants to keep pulling. In the blink of an eye my time in the drivers seat came to an end and I switched seats with the pro driver for a hot lap around the track. This lap was much faster than my own and the Michelin Pilot Super Sports made noise as they struggled to maintain traction in the corners.
If you participate in occasional track days or you just want a capable street car, look no further than the Shelby GT350. This is a well built factory performer.