Ford Motor Company is in the midst of celebrating its 100th anniversary 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 ...
Ford Motor Company is in the midst of celebrating its 100th anniversary 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.
Earlier this week, Ford Racing asked many of its current drivers and legends to discuss their favorite Ford memories. Today, some of its former drivers were asked to do the same.
BILL ELLIOTT - No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid
(NOTE: Bill Elliott ranks second behind Ned Jarrett (43) in all-time Ford wins with 40.)
"For what they've done for me and all the years that I've driven Fords, it was a great achievement for what we did in the eighties. I always felt like that was a place that was special because of the way my dad liked Fords and what he did throughout his era and his evolution of race cars. Even in the late sixties, he'd go to the race track and be the only Ford there. His strong belief in Ford was instilled in us and I inherited that from him. That same belief followed us into the late seventies and early eighties when we got into the sport."
IS THERE A MEMORY THAT
STANDS OUT OR ACHIEVEMENT YOU'RE MOST PROUD OF WITH FORD?
"I think it was a combination of how we got started and the results we had. We were so into the Fords. When we started running Fords in NASCAR and Winston Cup, there were very few Fords out there. We were very much a minority from that standpoint and I think I was proud of the way we kind of went in and did it on our own. Ford was there when we got serious about racing in Winston Cup and were trying to be serious competitors week in and week out. I was proud of the way we did it. We didn't go into another team and try to buy our way in or anything like that, we pretty much did it on our own."
JIMMY SPENCER - No. 7 Sirius Intrepid
(NOTE: Jimmy Spencer's only two
NASCAR Winston Cup wins - Daytona and Talladega -- came in 1994 and were
both in a Ford.)
"For any company to make 100 years is just incredible. It's awesome. I was very fortunate to drive for Ford. We had some good luck with Ford, but I never won like I wanted to. I remember winning my first Winston Cup race in a Thunderbird. They've discontinued the Thunderbird now as far as racing goes, but I'll always remember the '56 and '57 Thunderbird street car. That's something special and to win my first-ever Winston Cup race in one of those cars was awesome. I have a big picture on my wall with the Ford insignia on the hood of that car. That blue oval is a mainstay in this country and I'm just proud to have been associated with it for part of that 100 years. I hope they have as much success in the next 100 years."
MICHAEL WALTRIP - No. 15 NAPA Monte Carlo
(NOTE: Waltrip won for the
first time in NASCAR Winston Cup when he captured The Winston in 1996
while driving the famed No. 21 Ford of the Wood Brothers.)
"It was just fun being part of a team that was so rich with Ford history. Going up there and knowing what the Wood Brothers had accomplished with Ford over the years made you feel like you were part of the family right off. And then to be able to win The Winston with the Wood Brothers and to be able to celebrate like that brings back some good memories. That was the biggest thing I had done to that point in my career and I just really wanted to win for the Woods. When I got that ride I just really wanted to win for them and that night we were able to pull it off. I'm real thankful that I got to stand in Victory Lane with those folks."
RUSTY WALLACE - No. 2 Miller Lite Intrepid
(NOTE: Rusty Wallace ranks
eighth on the all-time Ford win list with 23 and took Taurus to Victory
Lane in its very first race - the 1998 Bud Shootout at Daytona.)
"I just have so many wonderful memories being with Ford. In 1993 we had such a great year driving for Pontiac and then we switched to Ford at the end of the year. Everybody asked why we did that because of the success we had, but I said, 'Ford is a hell of a brand right now and I think it's the car to be running.' We went to Daytona and had a good run there before something happened. Then we went to Rockingham and won the race and dominated the whole way. We ended up winning eight races and that was the most fantastic 1994 season I can ever remember. That was my very first experience with Ford and since then I've had nothing but great memories. I sell Fords. I have a great Ford dealership in Newport, Tennessee and I have nothing but good things to say about my time with Ford. I miss those guys. They're good guys."
JOHNNY BENSON - No. 10 Valvoline Grand Prix
(NOTE: Johnny Benson drove
the Fords of Jack Roush for two seasons - 1998 and 1999 - posting three
top-five and 12 top-10 finishes in that time.)
"For me, when I switched to Ford with Roush it was something that I never thought I'd do. I had always been with Chevrolet my whole life because of my dad, but I had an opportunity to come and do that and the Ford people are great. The people were super nice and the fans are great. Fans in Winston Cup are crazy over everything, but the part that's interesting about this sport is that whether you're in a Chevrolet, a Ford, a Dodge, or Pontiac, everybody is so brand loyal. That's something I always believed was there, but when you actually do switch from one manufacturer to another, it's unbelievable. You've heard of it, but when you actually live through that and see the people who are dedicated Ford people, it was pretty impressive. I know Ford has a huge following, as do the other makes, and that was something I was most impressed about was how loyal people are to brand makes. There are a lot of great Ford fans out there. I know I'm not with one now and I'm with Pontiac, but there are still a lot of people who will come up to me and say, 'Man, that was cool when you were with Ford,' so that was neat for me."
RYAN NEWMAN - No. 12 ALLTEL Intrepid
(NOTE: Newman also won The Winston
(2002) and earned his first NASCAR Winston Cup win in a points race at
Loudon last season in a Ford.)
"I guess one of the cool things was my only Busch win was at Michigan in a Ford - in Ford Country I guess you could say. I had a good experience with Ford and we didn't have any problems. We had a good relationship and ended it on a good note. As far as my biggest memory in Winston Cup, I'd have to say winning The Winston in a Ford was pretty big. That's obviously a big money race and to have that be my first win was cool. Something I'll always remember is that my first Winston Cup win was in a Ford."
RICKY CRAVEN - No. 32 Tide Grand Prix
(NOTE: Craven's Ford career
highlight came when he won his first NASCAR Winston Cup Series event in a
dramatic door-to-door final lap battle with Dale Jarrett at Martinsville
"It was like Bobby Allison told me when I was 15 years old and won my first race in 1982. I was 15 years old and he was a guest at the track that night and he said, 'Kid, that was some pretty good driving. This is something you'll never forget because you always remember that first win.' He's right, you never forget your first win and that's the biggest thing I take from my Ford relationship was winning our first race at Martinsville and getting to work with some great people. When I think back to that race, a lot of it was personal, but then when you can step away from that you can say it was a great race. It was good for the fans and when you take it one step further it was good for the manufacturer because there were two Fords coming down to the line."