Visitors to Henry Ford Museum can often be found gathering under the Douglas Auto Theatre “Driving America” sign for photo opportunities and to marvel at the larger-than-life artifact. But recently visitors and racing fans gathered by the sign to honor Henry Ford as a racing innovator.
In honor of what would have been Henry’s 150th birthday on July 30, 2013, Ford brands Motorcraft/Quick Lane and Ford Racing honored his legacy with a special paint scheme in the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway July 26-28, 2013 race, with Wood Brothers Racing and driver Trevor Bayne.
The car’s paint scheme features an iconic Henry photo – posed on top of the Sweepstakes with Spider Huff riding on the sideboard, the car that would take him to victory in 1901 at a race track in Grosse Pointe, Mich.
Why was that race so important? To be honest, it was important because Henry already had one business flop on his hands, the Detroit Automobile Company. His win with the Sweepstakes against opponent Alexander Winton not only netted him the $1,000 prize but the investors needed to start Ford Motor Company.
As Henry’s great-grandson, and special guest that morning, Edsel B. Ford II pointed out, if Henry hadn’t won that race, Ford Motor Company might not be here today to celebrate the innovator.
In addition to Edsel, the Wood Brothers and driver Trevor Bayne were on hand to unveil the special car in Henry Ford Museum that morning, sharing some of their appreciation for Henry and his body of work.
While all of the morning’s guests were more than familiar with the collections of The Henry Ford, Trevor and the Wood Brothers are especially familiar and proud as their No. 21 2011 Ford Fusion Stock Car is in our Car Court, currently on loan to us. As Trevor pointed out his former car to the audience, while showing off his tuxedo-themed racing suit for the Brickyard race, he commented, “It’s pretty cool that they’re still celebrating his (Henry) birthday 150 years later!”
We like to think it’s pretty cool, too. Here’s to 150 years of celebrating our founder, Henry Ford, both on AND off the race track.
The Goodwood Revival is world renowned for celebrating the living history of motor sports. One of the great stories of this year's Revival is the 45th anniversary of the Ford Mk IV win at Le Mans. Dan Gurney and A.J. Foyt were the first American drive team and all-American car to win the 24 hours of Le Mans race. This incredible win was supported by the best team in the business, led by Carroll Shelby.
Many obstacles were overcome to win the race, including the failed windshields of the Ford cars, which were cracking just days before the race was about to start. The millions of dollars that Ford had spent to win Le Mans and beat Ferrari were at risk, because the cars could not be allowed to run with damaged windshields. Ford immediately had a new set of windshields made in the United States and flew them all in first-class seats on a commercial airliner to France. Ford then flew in Terje Johansen, a Norwegian glass engineer living in Brussels, to install the windshields to ensure they would not crack again. Terje worked from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 a.m. installing the windshields just hours before the start of the race.
The rest was, of course, history.
Today Terje Johansen, pictured on the left and Dan Gurney, pictured on the right met for the first time - 45 years later after the famous win at Le Mans. Terje Johansen brought a set of photographs taken while he was installing the windshields at Le Mans and gave them to Matt Anderson, our Curator of Transportation for the Racing in America archives as part of our Collections to further document the process of innovation in racing.
Between 1960 and 1990, tracks, drivers and cars combined to create a memorable era in automobile racing, and one of the best-known photograph collections documenting this era is now accessible. Selected images from the Dave Friedman collection are now available for viewing at The Henry Ford’s Flickr page. More than 10,000 images have been uploaded since the beginning of 2012, with many more to come!
During the 1950s and 1960s, American auto racing underwent a radical transformation, evolving from a sport of weekend racers in their home-built hot rods and dragsters to professional teams driving powerful race cars in competitions all over the world. Photographer Dave Friedman had a front row seat for the action during this important transition, capturing the excitement, the grit and the glamour - and creating some of the most iconic images of American motor sports of that era.
In 1962 Friedman was hired as staff photographer for Shelby-American Inc., the racing design and construction shop owned by a former driver, the late Carroll Shelby. While with Shelby-American Inc., Friedman had the unique opportunity to document the development of one of racing’s iconic stable of cars, the Shelby Cobras. In 1965, Friedman continued to capture the dynamic innovations of Shelby and Ford Motor Company as he documented the development of the record-setting Ford Mark IV race car that was the first American-designed and built car to win the grueling 24 Hours of Le Mans race in 1967 . Friedman continued to pursue his passion for motor sports into the 1990s, when he refocused his lens on a new art form – classical ballet.
In 2009, The Henry Ford acquired the unique collection of this internationally renowned photographer, author and motion picture still photographer. The Dave Friedman collection consists of over 200,000 unique images, including photographs, negatives, color slides and transparencies. The collection also includes programs, race results and notes from across the United States and around the world. Dating between 1949 and 2003, the images and programs illustrate the transition of auto racing from dirt tracks and abandoned airfields to super speedways.
The Dave Friedman collection is a unique resource that documents in subtle shades the art, power and passion of automobile racing in the second half of the 20th century.
What's your favorite moment in automotive racing history? Tell us in the comments below, or check out Racing In America for more details on these iconic races and more.
The Henry Ford mourns the passing of Carroll Shelby—race car driver, champion team owner, automotive designer, true innovator.
From his racing days behind the wheel, to his innovative designs on the track, one common trait threads through all that he accomplished in his more than 50 years in the automotive racing field: passion. He was a firm believer in being passionate about what you did and what you created, always focusing on the future. When asked what was his favorite car creation, he would reply, "the next one."
We are grateful to Mr. Shelby for his pioneering leadership and all that he has done in the automotive and racing industries and we are proud to display his work in the 1967 Ford Mark IV LeMans Race Car in Henry Ford Museum.
“If we ever do anything worth doing, maybe we can get a car in here.”
That’s what Wood Brothers Racing's Eddie and Len Wood said following a 2008 visit to Henry Ford Museum when they had the opportunity to get up close and touch the 1965 Lotus-Ford race car that is part of their family’s 60-year racing legacy.
Well, to make a long (great!) story short: They did something. And it was big. Really big.
The Wood brothers and driver Trevor Bayne were in Dearborn yesterday to present to Henry Ford Museum that really big something: the famous No. 21 Ford Fusion that a 20-year-old Bayne drove to an unlikely victory in the 2011 NASCAR Daytona 500.
Fans and press were on hand to see and cheer on the unveiling of the museum's newest artifact.
Fans take photos as the car is unveiled at Henry Ford Museum.
The car will be on display in the Racing in America area of the Driving America exhibition in Henry Ford Museum. The Fusion's permanent home will be right between the 1901 Ford Sweepstakes car and the 1965 Indy 500-winning Lotus-Ford. The Sweepstakes marked the beginning of Ford racing, the Lotus-Ford changed everything, and now the No. 21 Ford Fusion has earned a spot as part of the Ford racing story.
The car is in the exact same condition it was when it left victory lane at Daytona in 2011. The exterior is ornamented with confetti - stuck to the car thanks to a glue of cola and Gatorade that bathed the car when celebrating the win. The car is authentically dirty; even Bayne's water bottle is still under the seat in the cockpit.
Eddie Wood gave a moving account of how events that led to the win just seemed to fall into place. Edsel Ford II told the crowd that although he's witnessed some exciting races in his life - including the 1966 Le Mans when Ford beat Ferrari - the Feb 20, 2011 win at Daytona topped them all.
Fans were eager to hear from Trevor Bayne who shared his account and gave some insight into all the people who are part of the story that led to victory lane. He also shared his own excitement about his car being part of Henry Ford Museum.
"When I walk up to my car and they call it an artifact, it kind of throws me off a little bit," he joked. "I got to flip the ignition switch. I never thought it'd be something I'm not allowed to touch anymore."