SpeedWorks’ Mustang Challenge race team has unveiled the image for its “Save the Shark” FR500s race car to be piloted by Chip Scarlett in the 2010 Ford Racing Mustang Challenge Series. The new car is set to debut in early March.
The shark image portrayed on both sides of the car body was photographed by Scarlett who is combining his long-time scuba diving expertise and passion for underwater photography and saving an endangered species, the Great White Shark, with his passion for racing. Scarlett photographed this young, eight-foot long, female Great White in August 2005 in the waters off Guadalupe Island, Mexico. Great White Sharks reproduce slowly, with only a few pups to a litter. As such, they are threatened by longline fishing, pollution, finning and loss of habitat. Australia, South Africa and the United States have designated Great Whites as an endangered, protected species.
“We think it will be one of the most — if not the most — dynamic looking car in any of the race series this season,” said SpeedWorks co-owner Peter Parrott. The “Save the Shark” race car will see its first track time on March 1 and 2 when the SpeedWorks Mustang Challenge team tests at Virginia International Raceway on its way down to the season-opener Ford Racing Mustang Challenge races at Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 6 and 7. Scarlett and his wife, Susan, plan to make materials available at each Mustang Challenge race explaining the key role sharks play in the health of the oceans, and their current plight at the hands of illegal shark finning operations.
While the 2010 Mustang Challenge season will be Scarlett’s first full-time foray into professional racing — he competed in the Miller Park Racing Association 2009 race series –he has made it clear he intends on being a serious competitor by bringing on former Formula One, PPG Indy car, and World Championship Sports Car driver Desire Wilson as his driver coach. Desire remains the only woman to win a British national F1 championship event by taking the checkered flag at Brands Hatch in 1980. She also won two World Championship Sports Car events at Monza and Silverstone in 1980. Desire raced a Saleen Mustang from 1986 to 1988, winning several races and the Manufacturers Championship for Ford.
Scarlett’s award-winning underwater photography has appeared in publications like Ocean Realm, Nature’s Best Magazine, Fathoms, Scuba Diver, and Dive Adventure, and been exhibited at the British Underwater Image Festival in Birmingham, Asian Dive Expo (ADEX) in Singapore and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, among other locations. His video essay titled “Loving Sharks” won the 2009 Ocean Geographic Underwater Photo Journalist Award at the Celebrate the Sea festival in Singapore, while his Web site (www.johnscarlett.com), which includes “Loving Sharks,” won the prize for most artistic underwater Web site at the Festival Mondial de l’Image Sous Marine in Antibes, France.