Just because he's more important to Ford's business than ever doesn't mean he's giving up his pastime.
It's a longstanding practice here in the United States that the President of the country does not drive an automobile, the reason being: election to the role of leader of the free world makes one a rather important person. Barring the President from driving helps mitigate at least some of the risk of harm befalling them from, say, being involved in a traffic accident.
Automotive CEOs take no such vow to put away their driving gloves, but being rather important in their own right, plenty of them are asked to avoid certain "dangerous" behaviors - like automobile racing. But for Ford's newly minted CEO Jim Farley, that just wasn't in the cards.
"It was probably the second conversation [Bill Ford Jr. and I] had after we had talked about this leadership opportunity," Farley told Salesforce in a recent interview (29:33 mark in the video above). "I said, 'You know, Bill, I can't just stop racing. It's just who I am. It's my yoga. You've got to let me do this if I'm going to be a better CEO.' And he was very supportive."
Farley's love for automobile racing, especially in vintage sports cars, is well-documented, and two of the cars he enjoys racing the most are enough to make just about any red-blooded car fan green with envy: a 1978 Lola T298, and a 1966 Ford GT40 - the model that secured Ford's first 24 Hours of Le Mans victory and later inspired two successive generations of Ford GT supercar.
For what it's worth, Farley noted that he's "as safe as [I] can be" out on the track, and described racing as his "outlet."
"As a CEO, you have to have an outlet to come back every day and lead the organization," Farley says. "When I'm in that car, I'm concentrating a hundred percent and there's nothing else to think about. When I'm done, it's such a mental break in a very quick time and it just works for me."
Farley isn't the only global CEO to have racing ties either. The motor industry has a long history of racers turned CEO and seems to be all the better for it. We're just pleased there's a genuine gearhead at the helm.