This Week in Ford Racing Special Ford Motor Company Centennial Edition June 10, 2003 Ford Motor Company will celebrate its 100th anniversary this weekend with a major public event at Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn, Mich. Henry Ford's upset...
This Week in Ford Racing
Special Ford Motor Company Centennial Edition
June 10, 2003
Ford Motor Company will celebrate its 100th anniversary this weekend with a major public event at Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn, Mich. Henry Ford's upset victory over Alexander Winton on Oct. 10, 1901, helped paved the way for the formation of Ford on June 16, 1903. And, since that day, racing has played a very prominent role in the company's history, from the early victories of "999," to the 'Purple Hogs" in NASCAR in 1955, to the four LeMans victories in the 1960s, to the "Million Dollar Bill" Elliott NASCAR domination in the 1980s, to the return to CART and Indianapolis in the 1990s, and to the present North American Ford programs in NASCAR, CART Champ Car and NHRA.
In honor of this special celebration, Ford Racing asked many of its current drivers and legends to dicuss their favorite Ford memories and vehicles for this Centennial Edition of "This Week in Ford Racing."
CART Champ Car World Series
MARIO ANDRETTI - Ford Racing Legend who won F1, CART, Indianpolis 500 and Daytona 500 titles with Ford power.
IN YOUR MANY YEARS DRIVING FORD RACE
CARS, IS THERE ANY ONE MEMORY THAT STANDS OUT IN YOUR MIND?
"From the Ford standpoint I have so many incredible highlights. Professionally, I won 111 races, and out of those 111 races, 64 were won with Ford power. I also won seven championships throughout my career and six of those were won with Ford power. The world championship, Ford power, the Daytona 500, Ford power, the Indianapolis 500, Ford power, rookie-of-the-year in Indy, Ford power, the first long distance win in Sebring, Ford power. Actually, it's amazing, most of the highlights of my racing career have been with Ford power."
HOW ABOUT AWAY FROM THE TRACK?
"Actually, my first memory of Ford comes from a personal side, not a racing accomplishment. The family came over from Italy in 1955, and the family never owned a car in Italy, but the first car that we bought was here and it was a 1946 Ford. That was the first family car we ever owned, and my twin brother and I treated that car like a jewel."
OF ALL THE CHAMPIONSHIPS, CAN YOU PICK ONE THAT HAS MEANT THE MOST?
"The one event that has changed my life more significantly than any other was winning Indy with Ford in 1969. That is very memorable for me. The ultimate dream I had as a kid when I embarked on the journey in motor racing was to be world champion, and I accomplished that with Ford. So I can make equal arguments for many of these as my favorite Ford memory, but what is most significant is that in all the meaningful areas of my life I can turn around and Ford power pops up. I can look around and the first car that we ever owned was a Ford and career wise the most meaningful events that happened to me were accomplished with Ford power, and it doesn't get any better than that for me."
ROBERTO MORENO - No. 4 Herdez Competition Ford
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE
MEMORY OF YOUR YEARS WITH FORD?
"Ford has been such a great part of my career. Two things pop into my mind, a couple of racing experiences with Ford. The first one is the Formula Ford Festival that, for so many years in the '70's and '80's was one of the most rewarding races in the whole world for Formula Ford. What amazed me was how important and how glamorous this one single race has been for so many years and for me it was memorable to be part of it -- especially when I won in 1980. That race alone has projected my name in racing and that win allowed me to get the test-drive contract with the Lotus Formula One team, which was a unique situation for a driver to go straight from Formula Ford and become a test driver in F1. In 1981 it was a huge jump and unique at the time, and I was able to make that move because the Formula Ford Festival was so glamorous and such an important race.
"The second experience for me was in Formula Atlantics. That experience has made such a huge impact in my career as well. When I drove Formula Atlantics we had the Ford engine. I won a few championships in Asia with it and in New Zealand and the World Cup. Formula Atlantics was what helped me make the next step in my racing career. I was the runner up in '83 for the American Championship to Michael Andretti, and although I won more races than he did he won the championship. Formula Atlantics was a very important stepping stone for me."
IS THERE ANY ONE WIN THAT STANDS OUT IN YOUR MIND DURING THOSE YEARS?
"I won three Australian Grand Prixs when they had Formula Atlantic cars and they invited F1 champions to compete. I won three out of those four races in Australia, all with Ford engines, so beating those world champions projected me into the next step of racing in higher formulas. Being able to race a Ford engine in those two categories was so important for so many years and it really helped my career tremendously."
DARREN MANNING - No. 15 RAC Walker Racing Ford
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE
MEMORY OF THE BLUE OVAL?
"The driver and the car that I most remember from my childhood would have to be Jackie Stewart, in the Elf car. That was a very famous car for me growing up. My father was a real racing enthusiast and he collected a lot of old diecast racing car models and things, and that Jackie Stewart Elf car was one of the little diecast models that he had. I wasn't ever allowed to play with any of them mind you, but I was able to look at them, which I did quite often, so that was my first memory of the Blue Oval."
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE FORD PRODUCTION CAR?
"The old Mustang GT, '67 and '68 are favorites of mine. When I first earn some money those are the first cars that I'll buy. The Mustang is just such a muscle car, the looks of it and everything are fantastic. If that new Mustang comes out I'll probably get one of those as well, if I get enough money. I saw one of the new Mustangs at the Cleveland Auto Show in March, me and Tag (Alex Tagliani) were drooling all over it."
IN YOUR SHORT CAREER AS A FORD DRIVER WHAT IS YOU BEST ON-TRACK MEMORY?
"It's got to be Rockingham last year. That was my first Champ Car experience, and it happened to be with Ford. We were up against all the other big guys, Honda and Toyota, and I thought we were just as competitive as anything. Not to mention at that time that was the highest racing I'd every done, so it is very memorable. That race was a very big occasion for me to be in front of my home crowd driving at that level."
EMERSON FITTIPALDI - Co-owner Fittipaldi-Dingman Racing
YOU HAVE A LONG
HISTORY WITH FORD; IS THERE ONE EXPERIENCE THAT STANDS OUT?
"First, I just want to say thanks to Ford for the race commitment that they make and to the help that has meant so much to my career for so many years. I have many memorable moments with Ford. They start when I went to England for my first race outside of Brazil. It was in Formula Ford in 1969, and since then I was very much connected to the Ford Motorsports program. My first ride in Formula One was a Lotus 49 with a Ford/Cosworth-powered engine. That was memorable because that was the same car that Jim Clark and Graham Hill drove and they were my heroes. My first world championship was in the Lotus Ford/Cosworth in 1972 and then I won again in 1974 with McClaren, which was powered by Ford as well. I had a lot a lot of wins with Ford/Cosworth. I can say that the Ford commitment to motorsports has been incredible, and it has been a huge part of the success of my racing career."
OF THOSE WINS, DOES ONE STAND OUT?
"My first world championship in Formula One is a great memory for me, that year I won the Italian Grand Prix and the that was the first World Championship with Ford/Cosworth. For me to win the championship was spectacular."
DO YOU HAVE ANY FORD CARS IN YOUR PERSONAL COLLECTION?
"I used to own a GT-40 and I will be one of the first to get one of the new ones, which I am very excited about."
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ - No. 51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Ford
WHAT IS YOUR
FAVORITE MEMORY INSIDE OF A FORD RACE CAR?
"My win at Motegi with Patrick Racing in 1998. It is memorable to me because in came after a disappointing year in 1997 with the Lola. So, coming in strong and dominating the race the way we did was fantastic for me. Another great memory for me is the year that I came second in the championship, which was in 2000. We were so close to winning the championship with Ford that year. I am very happy with the support that Ford gave me those three years. We won six races together. I was the best Ford driver with Patrick Racing in terms of those results."