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100 Years of American Race Cars Coming to Henry Ford Museum

Sebastian Blanco
Photo credit: The Henry Ford

From Car and Driver

  • From the 1906 Locomobile Old 16 to a 2018 Chevy Camaro to the 2016 Ford GT that won its class at Le Mans (above), you can get your fix of classic race cars with this exhibit.
  • Movies, interactive displays and, thankfully, racing simulators will all be part of the Driven to Win exhibit.
  • The is the latest in the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation's exploration of what makes American auto racing special and different, and it's sponsored by General Motors.

Racers, there's no need to start your engines.

A new permanent exhibit called Driven to Win will bring a century's worth of American racing vehicles to the Henry Ford museum complex in Dearborn, Michigan, this summer. But they won't be speeding around the track. Instead, visitors will try to satisfy their need for speed using screens and sound to supplement an up-close look at the static vehicles on display.

Photo credit: The Henry Ford

The Henry Ford says there will be a number of experience zones that offer up different facets of what it's like to be on the track. A 15-minute virtual ride called In the Driver's Seat is the most realistic (and, we assume, the most fun) thanks to six connected, full-motion racing simulators that will let you drive the "world's fastest cars" on the "most challenging tracks on the planet." Details on which cars and which tracks were not provided, but there will be a five-minute qualifying session followed by "genuine wheel-to-wheel competition."

For a less white-knuckle experience, a 4D movie called Fueled by Passion brings viewers trackside and into the vehicles in five different forms of racing. The Winner's Circle is a place to celebrate some of people and vehicles involved in American auto racing's biggest moments. Motorsports Performance Training allows visitors to learn what it takes to prep for a race, and, finally, the Sports Car Race Shop is where some of the engineering behind winning race cars will be explained.

Driven to Win, previously announced as Racing in America, is sponsored by General Motors, but cars from its rivals will be presented as well. The Henry Ford highlighted these vehicles from the upcoming 24,000-square-foot exhibit:

Photo credit: The Henry Ford
  • The 1906 Locomobile Old 16, the first American car to win a major international road race in the United States.
  • The 1965 Lotus-Ford (pictured above) that was the first rear-engine car to win the Indianapolis 500.
  • The 1965 Goldenrod (above), which held a land speed record of 409.277 mph for wheel-driven cars until 1991.
  • The 1967 Ford Mark IV, which earned an all-American victory at Le Mans with Dan Gurney and A.J. Foyt at the wheel.
  • The 1988 Chevrolet-powered Penske PC-17, driven by Rick Mears for the third of his four Indy 500 wins.
  • A 2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, a track-ready performance car used in engineering tests at Germany's celebrated Nürburgring racing circuit.
Photo credit: The Henry Ford

The Henry Ford has its own idea about what specifically defines American racing. In 2011, the museum's curators issued an article on this subject in which they decided that American auto racing has four distinct characteristics: a love of pure speed (instead of the strategy behind turns and overtaking), a desire to see the entire track at once (ovals and drag strips), a preference for short races (with some outliers, like the Indianapolis 500), and insularity, both from racers from outside the U.S. as well as between different racing styles.

Driven to Win opens in June 2020 inside the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in Dearborn, Michigan.

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