Michael Kranefuss led Ford Motor Company's worldwide racing efforts from 1980 to 1993 as Director of Special Vehicle Operations. No other person, other than Henry Ford himself, ruled Ford's world racing department longer than Mr. Kranefuss. He rebuilt Ford's dormant North American racing program beginning with one car in the IMSA GT series (a Zakspeed Capri disguised as a Mustang), and ending with the worldwide powerhouse Ford Racing had become by the time of his retirement.
When Mr. Kranefuss left Ford in 1993, Ford was the only auto manufacturer involved in the world's four most prestigious motorsport series: NASCAR, CART, F1, and WRC.
In NASCAR, Ford had not won the manufacturer' s title since 1969. Mr. Kranefuss led Ford's stockcar racing rejuvenation, both in the foundry and in sponsorship support, so that Bill Elliott won the driver's championship by 1988, followed by a tie for the manufacturer's title in 1991, and then winning both titles outright in 1992 with driver Alan Kulwicki.
Mr. Kranefuss saw Ford's return to CART pay off in the 1993 CART Indy Car Series with Nigel Mansell's championship, with Ford drivers racking up 11 victories and 20 poles in just two seasons. It was the first time Ford-powered cars competed in the series since 1971.
Mr. Kranefuss instituted the Ford SVO Racing Parts program and catalog, the production SVO Mustang, the Roush Racing Trans Am and IMSA team, the resurgence of Formula Ford and Sports 2000 with updated parts, and the IMSA Ford Probe Mustang GTP. During this time period, he had Cosworth develop a new Ford F1 turbo motor, then a new Ford F1 normally- aspirated motor, as well as a new CART Indy Car motor.
In the WRC, Ford had moved up to contend for the World Championship with its new Escort Cosworth Turbo, and in 1993 finished second in the manufacturer' s championship with 151 points.
Michael Schumacher won his first F1 world championship in the Benetton-Ford in 1994 by virtue of the Kranefuss Ford F1 program with the 3.5L ECA Zetec-R V8.In 1994, Mr. Kranefuss formed his own Winston Cup NASCAR team with Roger Penske.
But what concerns the Capri Club North America most is his impressive Capri history. In 1968 he joined Ford of Germany's newly-formed Competitions Department as assistant manager. Four years later he became the head manager of the Ford Cologne Factory Team, a post he held until becoming Ford of Europe's motorsports director in 1976.
While he was at Ford of Germany and Ford of Europe, Ford Capris dominated the European Touring Car scene. They won the Spa 24 Hours, the Tour de France, LeMans, the German Production Car Championship six times, the ETCC three times, and numerous individual club and national titles.
For these and all of his other accomplishments, Mr. Michael Kranefuss was personally inducted into the Ford Capri Hall Of Fame on September 2, 2006 at the CCNA Capri Swarm Annual Banquet.
(Aside: Regarding that 1981 rebodied Zakspeed Capri dolled up as a Mustang, the 1.7L c.700HP turbo motor out of *that* specific car was the dessert table centerpiece for the Swarm a couple years ago! The Ford Capri rekindled Ford's American racing program! And we have this exact motor, Zakspeed s/n 001.)
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