Ford Motor Company is celebrating Henry Ford’s birthday on July 30.
Recently, Carl Edwards joined NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett as the second NASCAR driver allowed behind the wheel of the founder’s 1901 race car, Sweepstakes.
On the weekend that Greg Biffle claimed the automaker’s 1,000th NASCAR national series victory -- which was June 16, at Michigan -- Ford’s grandson, Edsel B. Ford II, invited Edwards to take a ride on history. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series veteran took the car for a spin around the grounds of Greenfield Village at The Henry Ford with help from Sweepstakes Engineer Glenn Miller.
Carl Edwards wasn't the only driver to pay homage to Henry Ford. Trevor Bayne ran a special paint scheme at Indianapolis, complete with a fire suit that looked like a tuxedo and a helmet that looked like it was from the early 1900s.
“This is the coolest car I have ever driven, no doubt about it. There isn’t even a close second,” Edwards said.
“Coming around that turn back there, there are no brakes. I don’t know how those guys did that because we were only going what, 8 miles per hour? They drove this thing near 70 mph back in 1901. That is just insane.”
“To think that this car is what started this whole thing is just amazing.” Edwards reflected. “If it weren’t for this, there might not be a Ford Motor Company, there might not be a Ford Racing, and a lot of people’s, including my own, paths would be very different.”
After his company notched its 1,000th win in NASCAR, Jamie Allison, director of Ford Racing, noted how the victory honored the founder’s legacy as a racer.
“Here we are in the summer of 2013 celebrating Henry Ford’s 150th birthday and in the same year we’re celebrating our 1,000th win in NASCAR,” said Jamie Allison, director, Ford Racing. “We all know how Ford Motor Company started, and I think reaching this milestone really honors the spirit of what Henry Ford started.”
When Edwards returns to the Great Lakes State for the Pure Michigan 400 on August 18, he will celebrate a milestone of his own. Edwards earned a 10th-place finish in his first career Cup start on August 22, 2004 at the Brooklyn, Mich. facility.
Following his Coors Light Pole Award win at the Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway in June, the driver of the No. 99 Roush Fenway Ford Fusion recalled what that race meant to him.
“I will never forget when they said ‘Gentlemen start your engines,’” Edwards said. “That was one of the most emotional moments I’ve ever had in a race car.”
Edwards and Ford will have a chance to make more history next month in Michigan as the home track of auto manufacturers since 1968 will begin awarding a Manufacturer’s Trophy to the car company that wins the Pure Michigan 400.
“Every racetrack is important,” Allison said. “Every win is magnificent. Obviously, here you talk about backyards, our hometown. We circle the date.”