DAYTONA Beach, Florida –
Tucked away in the back corner of the outpost paddock at Daytona International Speedway is the Ford executive, leaning on a trolley and chatting casually with the heads of The Wood Brothers Racing.
Jim Farley was wearing a firefighting suit and barely looked like an executive. On Saturday he was a racer.
The 60-year-old made his professional track debut with 12th place in the IMSA VP Racing SportsCar Challenge in Daytona. An accomplished historic racer, Farley has driven a Ford Mustang GT4 Multimatic Motorsports in the GSX class.
This is the first sprint in a new multi-tier series featuring Bronze or Silver rated riders.
Farley managed to fly under the radar and roam the Daytona like any other “gentleman driving” but not the head of one of the most active automakers in motorsport. But he’s still the head of Ford, and that’s why Eddie and Leonard Wood traveled from Friday night’s NASCAR Hall of Fame awards ceremony in North Carolina down to Daytona to watch Farley race.
Across the highway in their motor home, Roger Penske and Tim Cindric watched Farley’s race on a large television screen with the event’s times and scores on a second screen.
“I should have used a fake name on the application,” Farley joked to the Associated Press. He said motorsport is an important part of Ford Motor Co., especially in terms of employee morale. Ford last year won the Daytona 500 with Austin Cindric and the NASCAR Cup championship with Joey Logano.
“It’s good that he cares,” Penske said of Farley racing at Daytona. “It’s good for Ford because he understands what motorsport means to the company. You know, both General Motors and Ford have top management that’s really invested in motorsport and how it can evolve to make a better car.”