110 Years of Ford Racing – The Hall’s Newest Exhibit
The NASCAR Hall of Fame unveiled its newest exhibit this month -“110 Years of Ford Racing.” The exhibit is located in the Great Hall and highlights the the manufacturer’s involvement in auto racing. The display features various artifacts and three significant vehicles from the history of Ford Motor Company’s racing program. On exhibit are the 1901 Ford creation named “Sweepstakes, Curtis Turner’s 1956 Ford, known as the “Purple Hog”, which was part of the first Ford factory-backed NASCAR racing team and the Roush-Fenway Racing Mustang in which Carl Edwards won the Nationwide event at Texas Motor Speedway this past April.
While it is not well known, the “Sweepstakes” may be the most important car in Ford’s history. It was the only vehicle that Henry Ford ever raced in competition. The race, a 10 lap duel, took place over the one mile Detroit Driving Club track located in Grosse Pointe, Mich. on October 10, 1901. The event pitted young Ford, a fledgling auto builder, in a match against Alexander Winton, the most famous driver and also the most successful auto manufacturer of the day. To the surprise of nearly everyone assembled that day, Henry Ford won the event. Ford drove while riding mechanic Ed “Spider” Huff hung on to the side of the car perched on the left side running board for balance. With this victory, Henry Ford impressed potential backers and was able to secure the financing needed to form Ford Motor Co. in June 1903. From that day Ford, as well as future generations that have operated his company, has looked to the sport of auto racing as a great way to promote their product.