The 2012 ROUSH Stage 3 Mustang started its quest to conquer the “One Lap of America” on the morning of Saturday, April 30, 2011. The skid pad at Tire Rack headquarters in South Bend, Indiana was watered down, and the fleet of “One Lap of America” cars was unleashed on the first of eleven tracks over the next eight days and 4,000 miles.
The “One Lap of America” began as the Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash back in 1971. Originally intended as a race from New York to Los Angeles to prove that good drivers in good automobiles could employ the American Interstate system at high rates of speed the same way the Germans were using their Autobahn. The last true Cannonball run was in 1979, given the legality or lack there of. Today this is no longer the case, as the event now goes from track-to-track around the country.
For ROUSH Performance, 2011 marked our first entry in this event. We took three 2012 Stage 3 Mustangs (RS3) on the trip, two for the competition, while the third was used as the official media vehicle for the event. The cars came right off the ROUSH production line with all the same options and upgrades you can order from an authorized ROUSH Ford dealer.
No enhanced performance calibrations or unique engine tunes were performed on these Stage 3 ROUSH Mustangs. In fact, we even left the factory speed limiter calibration intact, therefore creating a top speed for the RS3’s of 148MPH (which was met numerous times by both vehicles). This was not the case for a great majority of the field. Many vehicles were purpose-built with special tunes to perform like a race car. With the top placing vehicles in the $130,000 or more price range, the ROUSH Stage 3 Mustangs were optioned-out at around $60,000 MSRP and carry a 3yr/36k mile full powertrain warranty.
“It was unbelievable how well the 2012 ROUSH Stage 3 performed on a racetrack such as Barber Motorsports Park. We actually ran a track time that was within one second of our Boss Mustang, the actual car that we race in the Grand AM series there,” recalls driver Jack Roush, Jr. “We pushed these things hard all week through wind and rain, hot sunny days and long late nights. Whether it was cruising on the interstate, or high performance at the race events, the 2012 RS3’s never missed a beat!”.
The “One Lap of America” event is designed to be a grueling test of man and machine. Each day had at least two track runs. “We ran at a total of 11 tracks, with many of these having multiple runs,” continues Jack Roush, Jr. “The transit driving alone constituted over 4,000 miles. Needless to say, most of the sleep I got on this trip was in the passenger seat. As for the vehicles, it is equally as grueling -- this year saw a 20% attrition rate as cars fell out of the competition due to mechanical problems.”
So, what are the rules for the event? There aren't too many. However, one of the requirements is that you must bring all of your support with you -- tools, spare parts, and people. You cannot have support from people or equipment from vehicles in the event other than your own. For our Stage 3 Mustangs we had two people in each, one competition driver and one support driver. The competition drivers were to drive at each track, while the support drivers were to help in the transit driving from track-to-track, and maintain the vehicles before and after each event. Many cars in the event towed a small trailer with extra tools and parts, but we managed to stuff everything we needed into the trunk and back seat of the ROUSH Stage 3’s.
“I think the idea of any company stepping up to put it all on the line and run their production vehicles in a competition like this is, well, gutsy. I think it truly shows the confidence we have in our product lineup,” said Jay Velthoven, Marketing Director, ROUSH Performance. “It's one thing to trailer a car to a track and test it. But to race it hard, then drive it 400-600 miles to the next event, and get right back out there and race it again and continue that cycle for eight days with virtually zero down-time…now that is a true test. And, I think the ROUSH Performance teams nailed it.”
The “One Lap of America” organizer, Brock Yates Jr., stated at the awards ceremony that he admittedly didn’t expect a lot out of these domestic production cars. After all, they were just Mustangs, right?! Mr. Yates expected us to get as high as 20th place overall within the field of 75 cars. As it turns out, we finished 1st and 2nd in class, 3rd and 11th overall and took home "Rookie of the Year".
“We’re very pleased with how the ROUSH Performance teams finished, and we’re truly impressed with the performance of the ROUSH Stage 3 vehicles,” states Velthoven. “A typical ROUSH vehicle will never see this type of endurance stress and a high-speed track environment…but it’s nice to know that our Stage 3’s could handle the best that ‘One Lap of America’ could throw at us!”.
The driving teams of the ROUSH Mustangs were as follows:
#11: Billy Johnson and Jaime Lyons (2012 ROUSH Stage 3 coupe)
#12: Jack Roush Jr. and Jay Velthoven (2012 ROUSH Stage 3 coupe)
Media Car: Andy Perry and Solomon Rosenthal (2012 ROUSH Stage 3 convertible)
ROUSH Performance “One Lap of America” recognition:
1st place (SSGT2 Big Bore Class): ROUSH Performance, car #11
2nd place (SSGT2 Big Bore Class): ROUSH Performance, car #12
3rd place (Overall Standings): ROUSH Performance, car #11
11th place (Overall Standings): ROUSH Performance, car #12
“Rookie of the Year” Award: ROUSH Performance
To see media, stories, and more on this event, visit the Stage 3 Facebook
For track-by-track results and more, visit the One Lap of America
Get the full list of specs and option for the 2012 ROUSH Stage 3 Mustang here.