The 2013 Shelby GT500's launch control system, explained.Enlarge Photo
When you build a car with 662 horsepower and 631 pound-feet of torque
, helping customers get that to the ground is a good idea. Too much throttle as you’re letting up the clutch can result in either wheel spin (and tire smoke) or a fried clutch, neither of which produces the best launch.
For the 2013 Shelby GT500, Ford is borrowing some technology from its Boss 302 Mustang
, and equipping the car with an impressive launch control system
. Knowing that track conditions will vary by season or location, Ford’s launch control allows drivers to dial in a precise engine speed for launch, rather than pre-setting a single rpm value.
Once launch control is enabled and engine speed is set, launching the car is as easy as matting the accelerator pedal and quickly releasing the clutch. The system holds engine speed at the desired value until the clutch is released, while modulating the rear brakes to ensure just the right amount of wheel slip for maximum traction.
If you want the engineer’s explanation, John Pfeiffer, senior engineer for the SVT Group, will tell you that “Launch control is essentially a special mode of the traction control system that integrates the brake and engine management systems to keep the tires balanced on the peak of the mu-slip curve in order to achieve maximum thrust.”
We don’t know about slipping mus, but we’re all about maximum thrust and we love the launch control system on the Boss 302. It’s easier to set on the Shelby GT500, since drivers can do so via Track Apps and the instrument display screen, or via a switch on the left side of the instrument panel.
We’re driving the 2013 Shelby GT500
this week, so we promise a full report (complete with billowing tire smoke) as soon as possible.