SVTP chatted with Ford about the hottest hatch’s complimentary school
By Steve Turner
Owners of the Ford Performance’s new hot hatch, the Focus RS get a lot of performance in a small package. Not only does it deliver 350 horsepower, four driving modes, and more. One feature that isn’t on the window sticker, however, it is the complimentary Ford Performance Racing School called the RS Adrenaline Academy.
“Focus RS combines high levels of torque and horsepower, and the new Ford Performance all-wheel drive with Dynamic-Torque Vectoring, for a high level of handling, grip and cornering speed," Henry Ford III, Ford Performance marketing manager, said. “RS Adrenaline Academy provides an opportunity for drivers to learn the capabilities of their cars on a closed road course with professional instruction and ample course time. This will be an exciting experience, one that owners will never forget!”
As is the case with the other driving schools offered to Ford Performance vehicle owners, the RS Adrenaline Academy will be held at the Utah Motorsports Campus in Grantsville, Utah.
“We are looking forward to the first season of the RS Adrenaline Academy,” Dan McKeever, president, Ford Performance Racing School, added. “The Focus RS delivers a premium driving experience and our school is the perfect venue to demonstrate just what it can do. Our professional instructors can help anyone take their driving expertise to the next level, whether a beginner or an experienced driver.”
Recently, the official web site for the school launched, but registration isn’t open just yet. Likewise, there were few details about what these classes might offer and how the cars might be set up for the rigors of track school duty. As such, we reached out to Focus RS Assistant Marketing Manager Matt Sylvester to learn more about what is to come for RS owners who will learn proper braking, shifting and cornering techniques at the school…
• Why did Ford work with the Ford Performance Racing School to develop the Focus RS Adrenaline Academy?
“Quite frankly it was a no-brainer for us. They do such a great job with the Track Attack program and with ST Octane Academy that it was a no-brainer to continue that relationship for RS. I recently went out and experienced the ST program and was absolutely blown away at what they are able to accomplish and teach in one day.”
• What is it about the RS that lends it to this sort of education?
“The RS the most track-capable Focus that Ford has ever offered and there are some pretty unique product attributes that come standard on the RS. Really you need to have a controlled track environment—with some professional instruction—to really learn everything that the vehicle has to offer, in particular the four drive modes. Customers are going use the drive modes in their daily driving, but to really get the most out of Track mode and, of course, Drift mode, you need to be in a controlled environment. Not everybody has the ability to head to their local track, so this is a great opportunity for all RS customers to get some professional instruction from some top-notch drivers, experience all those product attributes that they might not get to experience in their daily driving and have some fun while doing it.”
• What will differentiate this school from previous offerings, like the ST Octane Academy?
“Going into when we create each of these programs, it’s all about highlighting those product attributes. You see that with the GT350 Track Attack program. You see that with the ST program. For RS we haven’t developed the full curriculum but given the all-wheel-drive system that is unique to the RS there will be some unique maneuvers that really get you to feel all four wheels connecting and power the vehicle through corners… We will cycle through the drive modes on the track so that customers can really feel the difference in all sorts of different scenarios. Of course the big differentiator between RS Adrenaline Academy and ST Octane Academy will be the Drift mode experience.”
“We are still working out how we are going to do that so we can repeat it with every customer. Everybody comes in with different driving abilities and we want everybody to be able to experience Drift mode, so there will be some exercises so that customers will be able to drift the car around some corners as well. There will, of course, be some similarities. We plan to have that Urban X course that the ST customers experienced. I’m sure it will be slightly modified, but there will be some similar maneuvers. It (the RS) will be a little more capable with the all-wheel-drive system on that course. We might just change it up a little bit.”
• How will the school Focus RS be modified for the school?
“We are working through that right now. They will definitely get cages in them and four-point harnesses—that’s just a safety thing. The ST cars get a special “Hoon Stick,” a special e-brake that locks up the rear wheels. We are still working out whether or not the RS cars are going to be outfitted with that. We haven’t fully developed the curriculum (yet), but if we decide the curriculum is going to call for something like that, then we will put it in, but that’s not totally decided yet.”
• Will Focus RS owners be able to extend their stay at the school?
“Absolutely. With the purchase of the RS—just like the other performance vehicles, the Shelby and the ST—you will get a reception the evening of the first day. You get a full day of on-track experience and you can purchase a second day, which, if I’m not mistaken, is in a Mustang GT for some additional track time and to be able to learn some different maneuvers. The Ford Performance Racing School offers classes beyond that second day you can start to get some racing certifications through them if you want to become an even more skilled racecar driver.”
• Is this program just an addition to the other Ford Performance vehicle programs?
“The ST program will continue. The Track Attack program will continue and we are going to add on RS too that.”
If you are the lucky owner of a Focus RS you will definitely want to take advantage of this educational opportunity. The first day of the school is free and you can bring along a guest, but you are on the hook for the travel expenses, but it is definitely worth the trip. Look for the schedule to be announced later this year.
Owners of Ford Performance’s hottest hatch will be able to learn how to make the most of their new rides at the complimentary RS Adrenaline Academy hosted by the Ford Performance Racing School.