October, 1901 the Race that Changed Everything

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Ford racing celebrates its 115th year anniversary this month of the company’s first ever race.

In October of 1901, Henry Ford drove the famous race car Sweepstakes and was victorious in his first and only race.

Henry Ford was actually struggling before that famous race. He was 38-years-old, he had to leave the Detroit Automobile Company after a failure, and he needed some serious financial backing if he wanted to pursue any other automobile ventures. He figured racing was a great way to do so, so he created the Sweepstakes, which is a 26-horsepower, two-cylinder engine that displaces 539 cubic inches.

Ford went up against Alexander Winton who, at the time, was considered the greatest car racer in America. Now, 115 years later, Ford Performance Racing has just finished their IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.

Ford Racing has come a long way in both driving and Ford Performance parts and repair. Their experienced technicians spend just as much time fixing up a Mustang now than they did working on Mustang performance in the 1960s.

“We’re here today to celebrate the 115th anniversary of the start of Ford’s racing program,” Edsel Ford II, Henry’s grandson and current board member of Ford. “A legacy unmatched by any other automobile manufacturer.”

According to Press and Guide, Henry’s famous victory was in front of 8,000 people and gave him what he needed to further change the automobile industry.

“His spirit of innovation carried that day, but, more importantly, it allowed him to continue to develop his idea for the Model T just a few years later,” Ford II added. “You only have to look at the new Ford GT to see that Henry’s spirit of innovation remains alive and well at his Ford Motor Company.”

The original Sweepstakes Ford racing car is currently on display in Dearborn, Michigan at the Henry Ford Museum. The top speed for the racer was projected at about 72 miles per hour, unthinkable at that time.

Many people within the automobile industry refer to that day in 1901 as “the race that changed everything.” More research here.

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