California is why you can't get the Boss Mustang TracKey

Ford's Trackey setup for the Mustang Boss 302 promised to unlock the pony car's racing side with special software engaged by a separate key. Yet nearly a year after being announced, Trackey still isn't for sale, thanks to bickering between Ford and California environmental regulators.

In theory, the system changes more than 200 engine parameters using software installed by dealers that give the 302 Boss a racing personality, including such useful tricks as launch control. By tying it to a key and software, all the owner has to do once off-track is simply start the car with a regular key, restoring the everyday personality of a 444-hp Mustang. As Ford said when it announced Trackey last November, "anything that could possibly affect all-out performance is deleted from the TracKey calibration."

That's where California comes in. Because it's an add-on part that affects engine emissions, Ford needed to have Trackey approved by the California Air Resources Board. Doing so required Ford to meet CARB's three big rules for aftermarket parts: They can't worsen emissions, affect the engine's durability or mess with on-board computer diagnostics.

So far, Ford hasn't been able to do that.

CARB and Ford declined to be more specific about the issues with Trackey. John Swanton, air pollution specialist with CARB, did tell Jalopnik manufacturers often have a little room to boost the performance of their standard vehicles with bolt-on parts without worsening emissions — but that the rules are clear.

Another thing about CARB: Like a license office, it handles approvals on a first-come, first-serve system. If someone gets to the front of the line without having their papers in order, they have to go to the back of the line and wait, which is what Mustang Boss 302 owners will have to do for some time to come. At least they can make Hitler screaming videos while they wait.