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  • Writer's pictureNick Cavanaugh @Car_Sick_Nick

Motorsport Hall of Fame of America Rolls Out the Red Carpet for Edsel B. Ford II

“Godfather” of Ford Motor Company’s racing efforts honored as a Bob Russo Heritage Award winner

Edsel B. Ford II, a key figure in Ford Motor Company's racing legacy and a respected figure in the global auto racing community was recently recognized with the prestigious Bob Russo Heritage Award at the 2024 Motorsport Hall of Fame of America Induction Ceremony. The award, named after the renowned motorsports journalist and historian, is a significant honor bestowed upon individuals who have made remarkable contributions to the world of motorsports.

Ford's passion for racing was ignited at a young age when he attended his first race with his father, Henry Ford II, in 1966 - a race that went down in history as the iconic 1-2-3 finish by the Ford GT40s at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Since then, his love for the sport has only grown stronger, and he continues to be a familiar face at major racing events around the world.

Reflecting on his lifelong dedication to motorsports, Ford expressed his gratitude for being recognized by the MSHFA, emphasizing the incredible people and personalities that make the sport so special. His experiences, from witnessing the historic Ford victory at Le Mans to forming lasting friendships with racing legends like Carroll Shelby, have shaped his deep connection to the sport and its community.

“The word legend is often over-used in sport, but Edsel Ford, who we all know as ‘The Godfather’ has earned that title,” said Jim Farley, president and CEO, Ford Motor Company. “For decades, Edsel has been the architect and chief supporter of Ford Performance Motorsports. Through the tough times and the good times, Edsel has been steadfast in his support for Ford teams around the world. I know how much all our teams value it when Edsel is at the track and when he can’t be, he’s the first to reach out to offer his congratulations or support. This honor from the MSFHA could not go to a better recipient and all of us at Ford want to say thank you to Edsel for all he has done for the sport, and for us.”

After joining Ford Motor Company in 1974, Ford embarked on a remarkable journey within the company. He held various positions in Ford's product planning, marketing, and sales divisions, showcasing his versatility and expertise. Notably, he served as the President of Ford Australia, immersing himself in the thrilling world of Supercars racing. Additionally, he played a pivotal role as the head of Lincoln-Mercury Division marketing, spearheading the immensely successful Roush Racing sports car endeavors featuring iconic models like Capri, Merkur XR4Ti, and Cougar.

In 1991, Ford's exceptional leadership skills led him to be appointed as the President and Chief Operating Officer for Ford Motor Credit. During his tenure, he played a significant role in establishing the renowned Ford Quality Care and Ford Credit brands in NASCAR. This strategic move paid off when Dale Jarrett triumphed in the NASCAR Cup Championship for Robert Yates Racing in 1999, proudly donning the Ford colors. Furthermore, Ford played a crucial role in bringing together Robert Yates and Jack Roush, leading to the formation of the highly respected Roush Yates Engines just a few years later.

Ford's dedication to Ford Motor Company extended beyond his executive roles. He served on the company's Board of Directors for an impressive 33 years before retiring. Throughout his career, he actively engaged in philanthropic endeavors, supporting organizations such as the Detroit 300 Conservancy, the National Advisory Board of the Salvation Army, the Detroit Children's Fund, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, and The Henry Ford.

In recognition of his outstanding contributions to the automotive industry, Ford received numerous accolades. In 2013, he was honored with the prestigious Keith Crain/Automotive News Lifetime Achievement Award. Furthermore, his remarkable legacy led to his selection as the Landmark Award winner for the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2020. Recently, he and his close friend, Roger Penske, a fellow inductee of the Motorsport Hall of Fame, were celebrated for their achievements in the North Carolina Motorsport Hall of Fame.

Currently, Ford assumes the roles of owner and chairman at Pentastar Aviation, a prominent aviation company based in Waterford, Michigan. His passion for excellence and his unwavering commitment to the automotive industry continue to inspire and shape the future of the industry.

Nick Cavanaugh | @Car_Sick_Nick | All Roads Lead to The Motor City


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