While they’re a common sight in places like Baja, SUVs aren’t usually seen tearing around racetracks. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take them racing there. If a diesel Ranger can be a track machine, why can’t something like an Explorer ST be, too? That question, by the way, isn’t hypothetical. Because Ford Performance has done precisely that.
Ford Performance Racing School modified this Explorer ST into a track-ready teaching device
As standard, the 2021 Ford Explorer ST is a fairly sporty SUV. Sporty enough that some new owners might not be able to properly use 100% of its possible performance. That’s why there’s the Ford Performance Racing School, which teaches new Raptor, Shelby, and Mustang Mach 1 owners how to handle their high-performance rides. And it also offers the ST SUV Experience to all Explorer and Edge ST buyers.
Like the Racing School’s other programs, it’s designed to teach owners the ins and outs of SUV handling. In this case, on both public roads and specially-designed autocross courses. However, the Ford Performance Racing School thought that the Explorer ST could be racier still. And it also wanted more people to experience the speed at once.
The result of these desires is this Ford Performance-modified 2021 Explorer ST. Inside it has four Recaro Cross Sportster CS racing seats equipped with Safecraft four-point safety harnesses. And those harnesses are linked to a custom roll cage fully welded into the SUV’s body, Autoblog reports. Plus, all the windows have racing nets for added protection.
As of this writing, Ford Performance hasn’t revealed what suspension mods this 2021 Explorer ST has. It is lower than stock, though, Autoblog notes. However, this SUV does ride on 21” SV503 Track Series wheels from Signature Wheels. And those wheels are shod in Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires.
Is the Ford Performance Explorer ST faster than the standard SUV?
Those Michelin tires undoubtedly give this modified Ford Explorer ST more grip. Combined with the lowered ride height, it should make for an even sharper SUV, especially in the corners. But what about speed in a straight line?
As standard, the Ford Explorer ST makes 400 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque from its 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6. With standard AWD and a 10-speed automatic, that’s good for a 5.2-second 0-60 mph time, Car and Driver says.
Presumably, Ford Performance’s Explorer ST is faster, as HP Tuners tweaked its V6, MotorTrend reports. However, as of this writing, no official output is available. But that’s likely because engineers will be modifying the tune as the SUV gets more track time.
Yet while we don’t know if this modified Explorer ST can accelerate faster than a stock one, it should stop faster. That’s because it has Brembo front calipers paired with the Shelby GT500’s vented brake rotors. And those brakes use Castrol SRF racing-spec brake fluid.
Can you buy it?
Ford Performance will publicly unveil its modified Explorer ST at the Woodward Dream Cruise on August 21st, 2021. You’ll have to go to Ford’s Mustang Alley display to see it.
However, while this SUV will indeed hit the racetrack, it’s a one-off project specifically for the Ford Performance Racing School. So, if you want it, you’ll have to build your own. Luckily for interested parties, the Explorer lineup recently saw some price cuts. As a result, a donor ST now starts at $49,000.
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