Ready for Launch
Behind the scenes with Michelle Bongiovanni, star of Ford’s Track Apps video
By Steve Turner
Photos courtesy of Revan Media
The latest Mustang is packed with exciting technology, and some of its coolest features are the Track Apps. Not only will this in-dash tech keep track of your on-track performance, but they will actually help improve your performance. With an on-board Line Lock to hold the front tires in place while you warm up the tires with a burnout and a Launch Control to modulate the car’s torque output and smooth your launches, the latest Mustang is drag-strip ready.
“We’re using advanced controls technology for the all-new Mustang to provide some of our most dedicated fans with an industry-first feature they can use when they go to the track,” said Dave Pericak, former Mustang chief engineer and current leader of Ford Performance, said when the Line Lock feature was introduced. “With electronic line-lock, customers who drive their Mustangs to work all week and then compete on the weekends will appreciate not having to modify their brake systems to be able to do effective tire prep at the drag strip.”
Of late, Ford has released a series of You vs. You videos, which showcased comparisons of the 2015 Mustang with some of its predecessors. To highlight the advantages of the Line Lock and Launch Control features offer over an 2009 GT that lacks such assets, Ford enlisted a 17-year-old drag racer to show us how it’s done.
She’s not just any racer though, via her success in Junior Dragsters, Michelle Bongiovani actually encouraged her dad to field a fleet of race cars in National Hot Rod Association competition. Usually, it’s the parents leading the children into racing, but not so with Michelle, which is even more surprising as she didn’t even like her dad to speed until she made a fateful trip to the drag strip at the tender age of eight.
“I had never been to a drag race before, and I took Michelle with me and she just thought it was the coolest thing,” Michelle’s father, Anthony Bongiovanni, said. “I told her about Junior Dragsters and she said she’d like to try that.”
“I’ve been drag racing since I was around eight or nine years old. I’ve won two championships at Old Bridge Raceway Park and have multiple final round wins,” Michelle explained. “My sister and I started before my dad did and eventually it turned into our Cobra Jet racing fleet.”
“I have always loved fast cars and technology, but I really didn’t start to get into racing until my daughters got into Jr. drag racing,” Anthony once told National Dragster. “We started going to weekly races in Englishtown and big events like the Jr. Conference Finals, and that’s when I really started to realize how special racing was. I know that’s the opposite of how most people do it; usually it’s the parents that race and then the kids follow, but it has worked for me.”
It has definitely worked for Michelle, who was recommended for the Ford video by one of her father’s Cobra Jet pilots.
“One of the men who races for my dad, Evan Smith, works with Ford and actually mentioned my name and background to them when they were thinking of starting this commercial,” she said.
As you can see in the video, Michelle had a blast launching both Mustangs…
Interestingly, Michelle had never done a burnout in a manual-transmission car before, so she needed a little primer before the shoot.
“I never taught her to do burnouts in a stick car, and she didn’t want to do it in her car because it was brand new,” Anthony, who is President and CEO of technology company Micro Strategies, said. “She said ‘I’ve got it,’ and when we got out there and she picked it up instantly. She made it look easy.”
It definitely looked like second nature in the video, and it allowed her to give a really fresh perspective on the differences between the two Mustangs.
“The 2009 GT was incredibly powerful and still handled very well, however, the 2015 mustang’s new features made burnouts and initial launches a lot more efficient,” Michelle said. “Its sleek new look gives the 2015 GT a luxury car appeal with a muscle car engine under the hood.”
She obviously liked the cars, but would an experienced racer find the 2015 Mustang’s onboard technology useful?
“The Track Apps will most definitely be beneficial to those who want to race their new Mustangs because it helps create an easier and more powerful burnout as well as helps with the initial launches due to the fact that a racer can set their preferred rpm for the leave,” she added.
Recently, Michelle picked up a new Mustang of her own, so she could use the Track App features if she wanted.
“Yes, originally when I first got my license I was driving my sister’s 2012 Mustang GT, but in late October I got my own 2015 Mustang GT,” Michelle said.
However, she might just save the burnouts for an S197 after all. She will age out of racing Junior Dragsters this year, so she will soon be making licensing passes in her dad’s 2008 Cobra Jet Super Stock racer.
Using Track Apps at the drag strip might not launch your family into a life of racing and commercial stardom, but it might just lead you to enjoy a pastime together like the Bongiovannis.
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