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 was honored as a Bob Russo Heritage Award winner at the 2024 Induction Ceremony for the Motorsport Hall of Fame of America.

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, who 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.

“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,” Ford said. “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.”

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. 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 Engineering race team, and another summer cleaning transmission parts for Carroll Shelby’s race team, something that led to a lifelong friendship with the 1992 MSHFA inductee.

“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.”

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.

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 Championship for Robert Yates Racing in 1999.  He was also influential in helping bring Robert Yates and Jack Roush together to form Roush Yates Engines just a few years later.

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 News Lifetime 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 Motorsport Hall of Fame.

He currently is the owner and chairman of Pentastar Aviation in Waterford, Mich.

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