Ford to celebrate 100 years of racing in 2001

DEARBORN, Mich. -- It began in 1901 with "the race that changed the world." It continues in 2001 with the most ambitious racing effort in the world. Ford Motor Company, with a history more steeped in racing than any other automaker,...

DEARBORN, Mich. -- It began in 1901 with "the race that changed the world." It continues in 2001 with the most ambitious racing effort in the world.

Ford Motor Company, with a history more steeped in racing than any other automaker, unveiled its plans to celebrate a century of racing excellence throughout 2001 with a series of events, contests, displays, and chronicles.

"More than any other manufacturer in the world," said Bob Rewey, group vice-president, marketing, sales, and service, "Ford has both defined and differentiated itself in the marketplace by taking advantage of the opportunities presented by racing.

"Winning races has so many positive consequences. Our customers believe in our products more. Our engineers are better prepared for development, design, and production. Our vehicles, parts, and systems get stronger and more durable. And our brands thrive.

"We can't overstate the importance of racing to our business."

The "race that changed the world" occurred on October 10, 1901, when Henry Ford defeated Alexander Winton, the most accomplished automobile builder/racer of the era, in a 10-lap race at the Detroit Driving Club in Grosse Pointe, Michigan.

The acclaim from that race, the only one Henry Ford ever drove, brought him one giant step closer to achieving his dream: to manufacture a vehicle that was strong, dependable, lightweight, and inexpensive. He founded the Ford Motor Company two years later -- in June, 1903 -- spawning a series of advancements in automotive design, mass production, and marketing that made the automobile a mainstream consumer product.

"If my great-grandfather hadn't believed in the value of auto racing," said Edsel B. Ford II, director, Ford Motor Company, "the Ford Motor Company as we know it probably wouldn't exist today."

Ford kicks off its celebration of the 100th anniversary of Ford Racing at the Chicago Auto Show, with the first in a series of 13 interactive displays at auto shows across the United States. The displays feature race cars, touch-screen kiosks depicting 12 of the greatest events in Ford Racing history, a 90-second Ford Racing video loop, and a contest in which consumers may enter to win a weekend on a pit crew at an upcoming NASCAR Winston Cup race in 2001.

Working with the Greenfield Village and Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, Ford has recovered Henry Ford's original 1901 race car. The car, named 'Sweepstakes' by Ford himself, is being restored for permanent display, and two running replicas are being built for use in promoting the celebration.

Beginning February 9, Ford will advertise the relevance of its racing history through a strategy that utilizes print and television elements. The campaign features Ford Racing heroes, the cars they drove, and the automotive passion that racing brings to Ford and that Ford passes on to its customers through its vehicles.

Coinciding with the October anniversary of the 1901 race, Ford will host the Ford Racing Centennial Festival, expected to be the most comprehensive collection of vintage Ford race cars ever assembled in one location. The event will occur October 13-14, 2001, on the grounds of Greenfield Village in Dearborn, and will include the participation of several notable drivers, owners and personalities who shaped the history of Ford Racing.

In October, the SAE Press, in association with Ford Motor Company, will release The Dust & the Glory, Volume II, a narrative history of Ford Racing from 1968 through 2000. Leo Levine, author of The Dust & the Glory, the history of Ford Racing, 1901-1967, has researched and written the sequel. The original has been re-released this month to coincide with the running of the Daytona 500.

"The 100th anniversary of Ford Racing is not just a matter of the company's history," said Edsel B. Ford II. "It's my family's history, too. We're very, very proud of how far we've come over the last 100 years, and the Ford Motor Company Centennial Celebration in 2003 will illustrate that. But we're also mindful of where we've come from, and we're proud to say that racing is a part of that legacy."

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Series Automotive , General
Drivers Henry Ford , Alexander Winton