Racing is in Ford’s DNA and it all started with company founder Henry Ford whose only ever race and race victory led to the subsequent formation of the Ford Motor Company. Here’s a story from Ford South Africa and we’ve added a gallery of some of the coolest Fords to have competed locally.
Ford’s remarkable upset victory over Alexander Winton, then considered America’s greatest racer, came during the 1901 Sweepstakes Race at Grosse Point in Michigan. The win brought investors, inspired by Ford’s ability to engineer and build a more superior car than his experienced rivals. In 1903, eighteen months after the race, Henry founded the Ford Motor Company and put his dream of making a mass-produced automobile into action.
Since then, Ford has turned to racing to prove its products and technologies against the best in the world. At last count, the company has 176 Formula One, 676 NASCAR, 91 World Rally and 330 V8 Supercar wins to its name, and countless other victories and podium results at grass roots, national and international level racing.
We’ve gathered a few highlights and included some unforgettable moments from South Africa’s own unique racing heritage. It’s guaranteed to bring back some warm and fuzzy nostalgia among motorsport fans, old and young.
Ford and the making of the NASCAR Mustang
Ford has had a long association with NASCAR. In fact, a Ford piloted by Red Byron and run by Raymond Parks, won the very first NASCAR race at Daytona Beach and Road Course in 1948. The following year, the first Strictly Stock Division race – the category which went on to become the premier NASCAR Cup Series – was won by Jim Roper at the Charlotte Speedway in North Carolina in June 1949. Roper drove his Lincoln, Ford’s premium brand, straight off the showroom floor to North Carolina to compete and claim the famous victory.
Ford announced in 2018 that the Ford Mustang would compete at NASCAR’s highest level for the first time, starting in the 2019 season. While the Mustang has had a long history of racing – starting in 1964 with the Tour de France Automobile – it had never been used at NASCAR’s top level. This link will take you to one of two videos that highlight the work that went into developing the car.
Ford at Le Mans