Monday, August 20, 2007

Just keeping with tradition

In 1901, Henry Ford understood the importance of winning automobile races. On October 10 of that year, Henry brought a car of his own design to a one-mile horse racing track on the outskirts of Detroit, Michigan. He was there to compete in a "sweepstakes," a head-to-head race against a man named Alexander Winton -- one of, if not the most famous racecar driver of the era, and who also happened to run his own successful automobile manufacturing company.

Ford's 2,200-pound car was powered by an opposed, two-cylinder, 538-cubic inch gasoline engine that turned an impressive 900 rpm and produced an estimated 26 horsepower. Nobody gave Ford much of a chance to win against his more experienced rival driving a proven and more powerful car. Nobody, that is, except Henry, his wife Clara and Ed Huff, whose race duties included ride-along moral support for Henry and inward-leaning ballast in the left-hand turns.

This was quite literally a go-or-go-home scenario for Ford. Financially, he was on the rocks. His first automobile manufacturing business, the Detroit Automobile Company, had just ended in failure. He needed money for a new company he had planned. He knew that if he had any shot at winning over his potential investors, his car had to win this 10-lap race. To the roaring delight of the large crowd on hand -- mostly there to see Winton -- the underdog Ford won. The investors were impressed and the Henry Ford Company was born. A year later, after a dispute with his investors, that company also closed its doors, but only after Ford had the assets in place for his next, more enduring effort, the Ford Motor Company.

It was the most important victory in the history of the Ford name.

Starting with that first sweepstakes victory, and continuing on to this very day, winning automobile races has been a key part of the global business model for Ford Motor Company. A brief glance at the history book will show you that Ford has won in seemingly every important form of racing there is, or ever has been and racing in the La Carrera Panamericana is no different. Fords and Lincolns have ran, won and even dominated the La Carrera Panamericana multiple years at a time. We are not looking to dominate anything with the exception of our own ability and have a good time doing it but we do have every intention of honoring one of the greatest races in the history of motorsports with a living legend.

No comments: