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 ...
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."
NASCAR Winston Cup
JACK ROUSH, Car Owner - Roush Racing Ford Tauruse
WHAT IS YOUR
FAVORITE FORD MEMORY?
"As a young engineer in 1964, my strongest and most pungent memory of Ford is the smell of the Dearborn Assembly Plant when I went through and they were building Mustangs. I thought that was the neatest thing in the world. To smell the paint and all the manufacturing lubricants that permeated the air of that plant was just the neatest thing that I'd ever been around. It's with great sadness that I find at the end of Ford's 100 years here that the plant is being shut down, so there's a bit of sadness going through the year for me as well. As far as racing goes, several things loom large. The first road race that we won in the modern era in 1984 at Sears Point with Greg Pickett driving the Motorcraft Mercury Capri. Red Poling was there, the CEO at the time, and that was huge. Nothing has been any bigger than that for me. Mark Martin's first win at Rockingham in the fall of 1989 is certainly huge. The 10th win we had at the 24 Hours of Daytona with the Mustang in what was the GTS class at the time with Paul Newman on the team ... that was large. Mark's Charlotte 600 win when I was on my couch and still rehabilitating from my accident was a memorable moment as well."
IS THERE A PASSENGER CAR THAT IS CLOSE TO YOUR HEART?
"My first new car was a Mustang and my current car that I have as much passion for as my first Mustang is also a Mustang. It's supercharged, inter-cooled and a number of other things, but it's a Mustang all the same."
ROBERT YATES, Car Owner - RYR Ford Tauruses
CAN YOU THINK OF A FAVORITE
"The first one that came along was a job at Holman-Moody working on Fords. It was probably the biggest spread I had ever seen. Nothing against working on bulldozers, but working on bulldozers for a $1.35 an hour and going to work on Fords for $4.50 an hour, plus time-and-a-half for anything over eight hours, that was a big spread. I was able to work there in engine building and engine development and was fortunate to have a situation that offered me an opportunity to build the 1969 Daytona 500 Ford engine. That was a pretty big deal and that was probably the thing that really got me hooked. You probably couldn't have driven me away if you had gone back to paying me $1.35 an hour. That was real big. That was a big house and it had it going on. That was a serious place as far as manufacturer racing - Ford against Chrysler - and it was an honor just to get to work on them. It was a great job and a good paying job, plus it was a good education. That carried me a long ways and got me cranked up to start my career."
IS THERE A PASSENGER FORD CAR THAT HAS A SOFT SPOT IN YOUR HEART?
"In North Carolina you get your license when you're 16, in South Carolina, 15 and in Chicago it was 14 or something like that. My parents talked about moving to Chicago and I wanted to go there just so I could get my license. I was actually doing a lot of driving when I was 14, along with my twin brother, and all we wanted to do was work on cars and go-karts because that's what we loved doing. We picked out the cars we wanted and had saved our money from mowing grass and together we had $1,700. I had a '50 Ford picked out and Richard had a '49 picked out because those were the hot rods of the day, but we eventually decided to pool our money together and bought a new car."
EDDIE WOOD, Car Owner - No. 21 Motorcraft Taurus
IS THERE ONE FAVORITE
FORD MOMENT YOU CAN PICK OUT?
"All we've got are Ford memories, so it's hard to pick one. The coolest thing about being with Ford is personally knowing some of the Ford family like Edsel Ford. His last name is Ford and that's the name on the building. It's still a family deal and I think that's one of the most special things about being with Ford is that a Ford is still in control of it all."
I KNOW YOU'VE HAD SOME INTERESTING STREET CARS TO DRIVE.
"My first car was a 1970 Cougar Eliminator. I took it to a drag strip and blew it up. My daddy had to come and get me on the race-car truck and that wasn't a pretty sight. That wasn't pretty at all. The next car I had was a '71 Mercury Cyclone with a big block 429 in it and I blew that up, too. I didn't really blow it up, I abused it (laughing). I abused both of them, so we had Holman-Moody fix it and by the time it was all said and done, it had two four-barrels and was something I'll never forget. In '74 or '75 I bought a Mark IV and went from the hot rods to luxury. I must have grown up, but that car sat in a warehouse for 10 years and a guy in Maryland bought it. He called me one day and I didn't know where the car went, but he asked me if I had an orange Cyclone. I told him I did, but when he described it to me I wasn't sure. Then he said there were some switches under the left-hand side of the dash that cut the tail lights and brake lights off and I said, 'That's mine.' (Laughing) He restored it and it's been in a bunch of magazines, but that was a great car."
MARK MARTIN - No. 6 Viagra Taurus
"I'd have to say that one that comes to my mind right away was when we went to race the Busch Series in 1987 and was basically the only Ford on the circuit full-time. It was the only V-8 against all V-6's and we ran well from the get-go. We won some poles, but finally getting that win in the spring race at Dover and going on to win two more was something that got a lot of people's attention because that was going the hard way. We were trying to race a V-8 with the rules stacked toward V-6's and Ford didn't have a V-6 ready to race yet, so that was a special memory for me."
DID YOU HAVE A FAVORITE FORD PASSENGER CAR?
"I got an SVO Mustang in 1984 and that was pretty cool. That was the first year I became associated with Ford and started short-track racing with Fords. That was a cool car. It's going right on 20 years for me with Ford. That's a long time. I appreciate their commitment to my career and it's been a good one. It's been good to me."
JEFF BURTON - No. 99 CITGO Taurus
"One of the coolest things I saw had to do with Mark when he was running that Ford V-6 against all those Chevrolet V-6's. Nobody could make a Ford V-6 work at that point, but he was out running it and doing really well with it. I thought that was pretty cool because it showed he was really committed to Ford and was gonna do whatever it took to run a Ford. It would have been a whole lot easier to run a Chevrolet V-6 or a Buick V-6 and he was out there with a Ford V-6 and he was out there pretty much on an island all by himself. I thought that was pretty cool. I also remember watching that race with Bill Elliott and Alan Kulwicki for the championship. They were both in Fords and that was a pretty memorable moment, but, for me, my most memorable moment was winning the 500th race for Ford. I took a lot of pride in that. In my fitness room I actually have a poster that a bunch of the Ford executives signed. I've got it framed and in my fitness room for winning the 500th race, so those three things stick out."
WHAT ABOUT A FORD ROAD CAR?
"We had a 1950 Ford Flathead V-8 that my father restored. It had three on the tree and that thing was so much fun to drive. We had a blast driving it. It had little teeny-tiny thin tires and wheels on it and it was cool to drive because you could make the wheels squeal just by going around the corner. It was nice. He did it right. It was black and totally re-done like it was originally. That was a really cool car. You wouldn't think that for a 17-year-old driving a 1950 Ford would have been cool, but when I drove that thing to school I was the man."
KURT BUSCH - No. 97 Rubbermaid Taurus
"Within the professional ranks the thing that stands out in my mind is when I was able to contribute to the two manufacturer's championships that we received since I've been here. One with with the Craftsman Truck Series in 2000, and then last year when we won the manufacturer's title when a Pontiac won the championship. Being able to contribute like that and to have the publicity and marketing schemes that go with that, it's a big achievement."
WHAT ABOUT PASSENGER CARS? ANY MEMORIES IN THAT REGARD?
"My father always built old Fords. The first car he restored was a '37 Ford Coupe. He also put together a three-window '32 coupe and then we always had the '46 sedan around that we took road trips in. That was probably the greatest memory I had as a kid was when we piled in that old sedan and did a California road trip. We went up and down the coast one summer. We drove up to San Francisco and then down to L.A. and had a great time."
GREG BIFFLE - No. 16 Grainger Taurus
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FORD MEMORY?
"I would have to say winning the Craftsman Truck Series championship was probably the biggest moment of my career. Number one, getting an opportunity to go racing in one of NASCAR's big three divisions - Truck, Busch and Cup - and then being able to win a championship was phenomenal. I'll never forget that. Probably winning a Winston Cup championship would surpass that, but winning that championship was great. Ford gave me one of the F-150 Lightning trucks after winning the championship and that's my favorite vehicle to drive. I drive it on a daily basis and it reminds me all the time of winning that championship. Winning the Busch Series championship was exciting and the first win in Memphis in the Truck Series and first win in Nashville in Busch are pretty neat moments, too. I'm sure my first Winston Cup win is gonna be neat as well."
DO YOU REMEMBER YOUR FIRST FORD?
"A Ford was my first race car. The street stock cars back in the mid-'80s were big and my first car was a Ford Torino. I think it was made in the early '70s sometime, but that was a good car. I also had a Mustang as one of my first passenger cars, but I'm really a truck guy. I've been a truck guy most of my life and the Ford trucks really don't compare to anything else."