Ford is sponsoring the very animals they helped put out of business.
Ford Motor Company's first big hit, the Model T, helped put the horse-drawn carriage out of business. Fast forward to more than a hundred years later, and we now see Ford sponsoring the biggest horse race in the US, and possibly, the world: the Kentucky Derby.
Ford announced on Monday the start of a multiyear sponsorship deal with the horse race that will see the Dearborn-based automaker listed as an official partner of the Kentucky Derby and Churchill Downs - the historic Louisville, Kentucky racetrack where the annual "Run for the Roses" is held. Two Ford plants are local to the area, including the Kentucky Truck Plant, where Ford F-Series Super Duty trucks are built.
"While our workhorse trucks naturally play a huge role supporting the many aspects of the equine and racing industries, our legendary sports car is named Mustang and our much-anticipated off-roading icon is Bronco," points out Ford's Marketing Director, Matt Van Dyke. "Ford products capture the freedom synonymous with the relationship between a winning horse and jockey."
As part of the deal, the 2020 Ford F-Series Super Duty will serve as the featured vehicle at the 146th running of the iconic Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 2nd. Ford will also put up a number of displays at the event to promote its lineup, including the 2020 F-Series Super Duty and the brand new 2020 Ford Escape, which recently entered production down the street at the Louisville Assembly Plant.
And the automaker has more planned, too, like special access for FordPass Rewards members, celebrations for veterans and active duty military, and a Ford Day, giving employees and their families free admission to a race at Churchill Downs during the 2020 horse racing season.
Ford may have helped "put the world on wheels," effectively putting horses across the country out of business and making the automobile the primary means of personal transportation on the road, but horse races like the Kentucky Derby continue to draw huge crowds even well into the 21st century.
And Ford Motor Company, for what it's worth, was in a sense born from racing. In 1901, a young Henry Ford raced his car Sweepstakes to a win in Grosse Pointe, Michigan in an effort to attract the seed money that would help him start the Henry Ford Company so many years ago.