Mustang Boss 302 gets a split personality with Ford TracKey

The TracKey doesn't just unlock the doors and fire up the engine, it also transforms the production Boss 302 into a competition-ready track car with a turn of a key.

Ford's Mustang Boss 302 gains a competition-ready TracMode with the turn of a special key.
Ford's Mustang Boss 302 gains a competition-ready TracMode with the turn of a special key. Ford

Owners of Ford's upcoming 2012 Mustang Boss 302 will soon be offered a deceptively simple way to boost their vehicle's performance and make the mighty 302 even more bad-ass. The TracKey doesn't just unlock the doors and fire up the engine, it also transforms the production Boss 302 into a competition-ready track car with a turn of a key.

The TracKey itself features a red Boss logo and takes advantage of Ford's dual-path PCM to unlock a second, more aggressive engine tune.
The TracKey itself features a red Boss logo and takes advantage of Ford's dual-path PCM to unlock a second, more aggressive engine tune. Ford

The TracKey package consists of a second key for the Boss Mustang--the TracKey itself--that features a red Boss logo. This key isn't just for show; starting the Mustang using this key unlocks the second part of the TracKey package: the more aggressive TracMode power train control module (PCM) software. With TracMode activated, Ford claims that more than 200 engine management parameters are altered--including cam and ignition timing, fuel control, and engine braking--resulting in increased low-end torque, increased throttle response, and performance that's best suited for the track. The engine's idle goes from smooth to loping, and we're fairly certain that the traction control systems will be given the day off. There's also a two-stage launch control feature added in TracMode with a user selectable launch RPM. Essentially, Ford has taken most of the compromises that are made to make performance cars streetable and allowed users to turn them off for a quick day at the races with a special key.

Of course, switching back to the standard key deactivates TracMode and the modifications it makes to the vehicle for an easy ride home.

The TracKey takes advantage of the antitheft transceiver that's already found in Ford's keys to activate what Ford calls a dual-path PCM. Rather than using a separate chip or overwriting the stock engine tune, the TracKey and the TracMode system can simply select between the two sets of software tunes within a single OEM power train control module. Ford claims that the TracKey gives users all of the advantages of an aftermarket performance chip or engine tune, but with the benefit of doing so with the vehicle's warranty intact.

With the TracKey, the 444-horsepower Boss 302 gains a sort of Jekyll and Hyde split personality, allowing users to go from street to track and back again just by swapping keys. TracKey power train software installation and key programming will be available to 2012 Mustang Boss 302 owners through Ford Racing authorized dealers. Pricing will be announced at a later date.

As a nice tip of the hat to owners who will essentially be purchasing a race-ready Mustang for the street, Ford is also offering--through its Ford Racing and Team Mustang divisions--the Boss Track Attack program. This event features driving instruction and time on the track to cut loose with the 2012 Mustang Boss 302. The event is complimentary with the purchase of a Boss 302--provided owners can make their way to Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah, in early 2011.

 

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