• Great-Grandson of Company Founder Henry Ford and son of Henry Ford II has been Familiar Face at Races and Prominent Ambassador for the Sport for More than 50 years
• Ford to Receive Prestigious Award at the 36th Annual MSHFA Induction Ceremony Presented by Toyota Racing at The Shores Resort & Spa in Daytona Beach March 12
DAYTONA BEACH, Florida (November 21, 2023) – Widely known as both the “Godfather” of Ford Motor Company’s racing efforts, and a prominent ambassador for the sport of auto racing globally, Edsel B. Ford II will be honored as a Bob Russo Heritage Award winner at the 2024 Induction Celebration for the Motorsport Hall of Fame of America (MSHFA) it was announced today. Ford will be formally presented with the award March 12, 2024, during the 36th Annual MSHFA Induction Ceremony presented by Toyota Racing at The Shores Resort & Spa in Daytona Beach.
The MSHFA's highest honor next to induction, the Bob Russo Heritage Award is named in recognition of the longtime motorsports journalist and historian and is presented only by the recommendation of the MSHFA Board of Directors in recognition of the recipient’s contributions to motorsports.
Ford attended his first race at age 17 with his father, Henry Ford II, in 1966, and it just happened to be one of the most iconic races in motorsport history – the famous 1-2-3 finish by the Ford GT40s at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It sparked a passion for the sport that remains decades later, where he is still a familiar sight on starting grids at major races.
“Edsel was there when Ford won Le Mans for the first time and has been a steadfast supporter of racing ever since,” said MSHFA President George Levy. “He proved to believers and doubters alike that success in motorsports contributed mightily to the company's overall success."
“I am honored to be considered for the Bob Russo Heritage Award by the Motorsport Hall of Fame of America,” said Ford, who is often seen at the racetrack with his own sons. “Outside of my family, the sport of motor racing has been one of the great passions of my life and to be honored by the MSHFA in this way is humbling. I have said many times that the sport produces such amazing people and personalities, and it’s been my honor to have been around so many of the people who have been inducted into this Hall of Fame, and, better yet, to consider so many of them my friends.”
“The word legend is often overused 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.”
“When you think about everything he’s witnessed, not to mention his personal involvement in helping lay the foundation for a Ford motorsports program that is now global, there isn’t a better person to honor for this award than Edsel,” said Eddie Wood, co-owner of Wood Brothers Racing (MSHFA Class of 2000), a team that has run nothing but Ford Motor Company products in NASCAR for 73 years, the longest team-manufacturer relationship in motor racing history. “In my opinion, he has not gotten enough credit for everything he’s done to help make professional motorsports as popular as it is today, but what makes him stand out even more is just the type of person he is. Edsel has a way of making you feel like you’re the most important person in his world whenever you’re talking to him. That’s a true gift. There isn’t a friendship I value more, and it makes me smile to know he’s being recognized for all the good he’s done on behalf of this sport.”
“I’ve had the opportunity to accomplish so many of my racing dreams thanks to Edsel,” said two-time NASCAR Cup Champion Joey Logano, who drives for Team Penske. “As a race car driver, the support that Edsel has given me over the years both as a leader and friend is something I will always be grateful for. His passion for motorsports is contagious and his drive to win is second to none. Congrats to the Godfather on this prestigious award and well-deserved recognition!"
“Edsel is really deserving of this award for everything he has done for racing,” said legendary racer and inaugural 1989 MSHFA Hall of Famer A.J. Foyt. “I’ve known Edsel since he was a kid - I snuck him into the pits at Indy when he wasn’t old enough to be there. He grew up with racing and his support for our sport has been outstanding on and off the track. Some of my best wins came as part of the Ford family. I won the '72 Daytona 500 with the Wood Brothers. And I was lucky enough to win the Indy 500 with Ford in 1967, and two weeks later, Dan Gurney (MSHFA Class of 1991) and I won Le Mans in the GT40. So, in 2017, when Edsel invited me back to Le Mans for the 50th anniversary, I said yes and was glad I did! We had a great time! I’m proud to call him my friend.”
Ford certainly is one of a few people in the world to have been to Le Mans for the 1966 Ford victory, and then also for the return victory at Le Mans by the Ford GT, 50 years to the day of the ’66 win.
“There’s something special about having Edsel come to a race,” said Joey Hand, who was one of the Le Mans-winning Ford GT drivers in 2016, and who is helping lead Ford’s latest major sports car effort with the Mustang GT3 that will debut at the 2024 edition of the Rolex 24 at Daytona. “You meet a lot of people in the sport, and it’s easy to see passion. Edsel has true a passion for the sport, and every driver loves spending time at the track with him. It’s why we call him the Godfather. He is one of the reasons that there is such a family atmosphere in the Ford racing program. I can’t wait to have him at Daytona when we debut the Mustang GT3 car.”
Following his visit to the 1966 Le Mans race, Edsel’s love for the sport and its personalities grew. He spent one summer traveling the SCCA Trans Am circuit with the Bud Moore (MSHFA Class of 2013) Engineering race team, and another summer cleaning transmission parts for the race team of Carroll Shelby, something that led to a lifelong friendship with the 1992 MSHFA inductee.
Once he started his career at Ford Motor Company in 1974, Ford served throughout Ford’s product planning, marketing and sales divisions, including a stint as President, Ford Australia, where he became involved in the Supercars racing world, and as head of Lincoln-Mercury Division marketing, where he kicked off the dominant Roush Racing sports car efforts with Capri, Merkur XR4Ti and Cougar.
"There are people in my motorsports career that have had a profound impact on me, and Edsel has been one of those for sure,” said sports car legend and 2017 MSHFA inductee Scott Pruett, who piloted many of those Capri and XR4Ti race cars. “His nickname ‘Godfather’ is so appropriate because his commitment to motorsports on so many levels is unparalleled. I've been blessed to know him as a friend and mentor since 1986, winning many driver and manufacturer championships together. His commitment to not only racing, but the preservation of the sport's past with the new Henry Ford Museum racing exhibit is fantastic. And he’s funny! I’m offering him huge congratulations on this honor, and I can't think of anyone more deserving."
Ford was named President and Chief Operation Officer for Ford Motor Credit starting in 1991 and was widely credited for helping bring the Ford Quality Care and Ford Credit brands to NASCAR, where Dale Jarrett took the colors to a NASCAR Cup Series Championship for Robert Yates Racing in 1999. He was also influential in helping bring Robert Yates and Jack Roush (MSHFA Class of 2022) together to form Roush Yates Engines just a few years later.
"Edsel has meant so much to our family through the years and when he and my dad joined forces to bring Quality Care and Ford Credit to Robert Yates Racing in the 1990's, it was the final piece of the puzzle that made our team championship contenders,” said Doug Yates, President and CEO of Roush Yates Engines. “I've said many times that one of my most memorable moments in racing was when Edsel sat at the head table with us in 1999 after winning the NASCAR championship, because nobody loves motorsports more than him. Edsel was also a driving force that led to Jack Roush and Robert Yates forming Roush Yates Engines in 2004. I'm so happy to see this recognition, he definitely deserves it."
Ford served on the Ford Motor Company Board of Directors for 33 years before retirement and has been very active over the years in philanthropic efforts, including 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 2013, Ford was presented with the Keith Crain/Automotive NewsLifetime Achievement Award for his achievements in the automotive industry with Ford Motor Company and was named the Landmark Award winner for the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2020. Just last month, he and his longtime friend and 1995 MSHFA inductee Roger Penske were inducted into the North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame.
He currently is the owner and chairman of Pentastar Aviation in Waterford, Michigan.
The Bob Russo Heritage Award has been presented just 14 times in the 35-year history of the MSHFA, but that number will actually be increased by two at next March's two-day MSHFA Induction Celebration. For the first time, the MSHFA Board has recommended dual recipients in a single year. Ford's announcement follows the news earlier this month that Lynsi Snyder-Ellington, the Owner and President of In-N-Out Burger, will also receive the Heritage Award Honor in 2024 for her efforts to preserve the future of drag racing in the United States.
The 36th Annual MSHFA Induction Celebration Presented by Toyota Racing will take place March 11 – 12, 2024 in Daytona Beach. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the MSHFA at www.mshf.com or contact MSHFA President Levy at (248) 895-1704 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The MSHFA is housed in Daytona International Speedway's Ticket & Tours Building located in front of the famed 2.5-mile DIS tri-oval. Access to the MSFHA museum is included with every Daytona International Speedway tour, which run throughout each day, or as a museum-only ticket. The museum is open daily 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. nearly year-round except major holidays. It is visited by close to 150,000 guests each year from every state in America and countries all over the world. For museum tickets call 1-800-PIT-SHOP.
The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America is on Facebook at www.facebook.com/
About the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America: The MSHFA is the only hall that honors all major American motorsports: cars, motorcycles, airplanes, off road and powerboats. Its mission is to celebrate and instill the American motorsports values of leadership, creativity, originality, teamwork and spirit of competition. Founded by Larry G. Ciancio and led by inaugural President Ronald A. Watson, it held its first induction in 1989. Watson spent the next 30 years tirelessly building it into the nation’s premier such hall until his passing in 2019. Originally based in Novi, Mich., it relocated to Daytona Beach, Fla., in 2016 and greets nearly 150,000 guests a year in its museum. The MSHFA is operated by the nonprofit Motorsports Museum and Hall of Fame of America Foundation, Inc.