Off Road Racing History: Ford’s Kicking Up Dust
A Long Off-Road Racing History
By Jay Kopycinski, Photography by Courtesy of Ford Motor Company, Jay Kopycinski
It was just over 110 years ago that Ford vehicles started showing up on race tracks, and back in those early days the tracks were in the dirt. It wasn’t really what we’d call off-road racing, but nonetheless, Ford has been on the race track and in the dirt since the early days of motorized vehicles.
Fast forward about half a century and you’ll find the maker competing off-road in vehicles you’d never dream of flogging. And things really get interesting once a group of guys got together and decided it would be a great idea to race point-to-point across long stretches of desert. Ford would use these competitive opportunities to show off the durability of their production vehicles and to learn from the poundings the vehicles took during grueling race conditions.
Over the years, Ford has raced everything from Pintos to motorhomes in the dirt, and has gotten involved in desert racing and short-course style competition. There have been many, many famous faces and championship drivers on the Ford team that has spanned decades of off-road racing. They’re still out in the dirt and today’s efforts show how Ford has never really stopped supporting off-road racing.
Spotlighting Fabulous Fords this month, OFF-ROAD recalls some of the great off-road moments and images in blue oval history.
Bill Stroppe and Associates dates back to the early 1950s when the organization prepped cars for the first Mexican Road Race. They would go on to dominate a number of races and then move onto the off-road racing scene with equal vigor. This photo was captured at a Mexican Road Race in 1953. Johnny Mantz (right) and Bill Stroppe (left) pose with their Lincoln.
Ford saw some more international success rallying in the East African Safari in Kenya in 1964. In this rally, a Ford Cortina GT would bring home the trophy in the hands of privateers Peter Hughes and Bill Young. This Cortina model was imported and distributed by Ford Motor Company and sold at English Ford Line dealers.
By Jay Kopycinski
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