Race Cars of Driven to Win
23 artifacts in this set
This is Henry Ford's first race car. After his first auto company failed, Ford turned to racing to restore his reputation. He raced "Sweepstakes" against Alexander Winton on October 10, 1901, and, to everyone's surprise, the novice Ford beat the established Winton. The victory and resulting publicity encouraged financiers to back Ford's second firm.
In 1908, George Robertson drove this car to victory in the Vanderbilt Cup, America's first great automobile race. It was the first time an American car won a major international road race in the United States. The Locomobile competed while wearing race number 16, and it's been known as "Old 16" ever since.
Henry Ford hired a fearless bicycle racer named Barney Oldfield to drive "999." Although he had never driven a car, Oldfield not only mastered it but also won his first competition. He went on to become America's first nationally famous racing hero, known for his thrilling exhibition races and the trademark cigar he chewed to protect his teeth in a crash.
Rally driver Ken Block redefined motorsport with his wildly popular Gymkhana films. Each of the ten videos featured Block performing elaborate tire-shredding stunts in exciting locations, and together they racked up hundreds of millions of views online. Block drove this modified Ford Fiesta in Gymkhana Five: Ultimate Urban Playground; San Francisco, released in 2012.
After World War II, hot rodders started using external fuel tanks from fighter planes as car bodies. The teardrop shape was ideal for speed record runs on dry lake beds and Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats. Californian Tom Beatty crafted this tank that was once the world's fastest.
On November 12, 1965, Goldenrod streaked across Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats at 409.277 miles per hour, setting a new land speed record for wheel-driven cars. Builders Bob and Bill Summers powered Goldenrod with four massive Chrysler V-8 engines. Although other car builders copied its sleek design, Goldenrod held the record until 1991.
How do you win the Pikes Peak Hill Climb nine times in 13 years? (1) Drive well. (2) Continually improve your car. Bobby Unser had already won the event twice when he wheeled this car to victory in 1959. Over the following years, he made the car lighter by modifying the frame and suspension and switching to an aluminum radiator, transmission case, and fuel tank. Unser drove it to six more wins.
Harry Miller, one of America's most important racing designers, built this car for Ford Motor Company's effort at the 1935 Indianapolis 500. It has all of Miller's hallmarks -- innovation, craftsmanship, and an almost sculptural presence. All that it lacks is a victory. Miller built ten similar cars, but a hurried production schedule led to mechanical problems and none finished the race.
Between 1960 and 1963, A.J. Foyt won 13 of the 26 races he drove in this car. Under its hood is a version of the famous Offenhauser engine designed by Harry Miller and refined by Fred Offenhauser. "Offy" engines powered their first Indianapolis 500 winner in 1935 and their last in 1976. The final turbocharged versions pumped out 1,000 horsepower.
Scotsman Jim Clark won the Indianapolis 500 with this rear-engine car in 1965. After his victory, a traditional front-engine car never won that race again. The Lotus-Ford combined a European Formula One-inspired lightweight chassis with a big Ford V-8 engine. The Lotus-Ford's success effectively killed the traditional Indy roadster and established a new design for American race cars.
This hulk is what remains from one of the worst crashes in Indianapolis 500 history. On the first lap of the 1973 race, David "Salt" Walther's car crashed into the outside wall, exploded, and overturned. Though badly burned, Walther survived. After a lengthy rehabilitation, he returned to compete at Indy the following year.
Tom Sneva set the fastest qualifying lap at the 1984 Indianapolis 500 with this car, but a broken rear suspension forced him out early during the actual race. The car's front and rear wings and underbody ground effects represent the aerodynamic advances that increasingly shaped race cars in the 1970s -- and continue to do so today.
Indianapolis 500 speeds climbed through the 1980s thanks to better engines, aerodynamics, and tires. Rick Mears set a new Indy speed record in 1988. He hit 220.453 mph with a Chevrolet-powered PC-17 car during Indy 500 qualifying as he won the pole position. Mears went on to win the race, earning the third of his four Indianapolis 500 victories.
This car was built to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Driven by Dan Gurney and A.J. Foyt, it accomplished that goal in 1967, beating the second-place Ferrari by 32 miles at a record-breaking average speed of 135.48 miles per hour. The Mark IV combined a sophisticated chassis with a big engine based on Ford's V-8 for stock car racing.
The Chevrolet Corvette was in its fifth styling generation when the race version C5-R debuted in 1999. The Corvette Racing team earned 35 victories with the C5-R through 2004, including an overall victory at the 24 Hours of Daytona in 2001. This is the car driven by Ron Fellows, Johnny O'Connell, Franck Freon, and Chris Kneifel in that Daytona win.
Ford Motor Company returned to Le Mans in 2016 with the Ford GT. Designers refined the car working with this full-size clay model. While computer-aided design was a powerful tool, it was still no substitute for traditional clay. Designers could view the clay model in natural daylight, cover it with film to mimic paint, and easily change its malleable surface.
Ford and Multimatic built the GT in racing and production versions. This cutaway is half race car, half road car. The race car has a large fixed spoiler and additional cooling ducts, while the road car has a smaller adjustable spoiler and unique headlamps that meet federal safety regulations. The basic structure of the tub and passenger compartment is identical.
Drivers Sebastien Bourdais, Joey Hand, and Dirk Muller won their class at Le Mans with this Ford GT in 2016 -- fifty years after Ford Motor Company's first victory in the French endurance race. The GT's carbon-fiber body, direct fuel injection V-6 engine, and flying buttress features were all state-of-the-art, but the car's look recalled the original GT40 of the 1960s.
Mercury Marine founder Carl Kiekhaefer formed his NASCAR team with top drivers, first-class equipment, and fast cars like this powerful Chrysler 300-B. Kiekhaefer taught rivals a lesson, dominating the 1955 and 1956 seasons. But he learned something too: success breeds contempt. When fans began to resent Kiekhaefer's dominance, he disbanded the team in 1957.
Formed in 1950, Wood Brothers Racing is the oldest active team in NASCAR. That legacy continued when Trevor Bayne drove #21 to victory at the 2011 Daytona 500. Wood Brothers is noted for quick, rehearsed pit stops and exclusive use of Ford Motor Company cars. Bayne, who turned 20 the day before the race, became the Daytona 500's youngest winner.
When machinist George Montgomery started racing in 1953, all drag racers were amateurs with "real jobs" supporting their hobby. This car helped change all that. Montgomery bought an old Willys in 1958 and built a dragster so successful that promoters started paying him to run at drag strips nationwide. In 1966, Montgomery became one of drag racing's first full-time professional drivers.
Sam Buck and Bob Thompson built this car in 1960. They bought the chassis as a kit, and the 1948 Ford engine was highly modified with special cylinder heads, crank, pistons, magneto, camshaft, and fuel injectors. In this style of dragster, popular from the mid-1950s through the early 1970s, the driver sat behind the rear wheels "like a rock in a slingshot."
Performance cars like the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE bring race-ready technology to your local dealership. The car's wings generate downforce, its lightweight components shed pounds, and its suspension is adjustable for road or track. Engineers tested this car at Germany's Nurburgring, where it lapped the 12.9-mile racing circuit in 7 minutes, 16.04 seconds at an average speed of 106.514 mph.