Ford Authority

Driving The 1901 Ford Sweepstakes – The Car That Launched An Automaker: Video

After the demise of Henry Ford’s first automobile-manufacturing business venture – the Detroit Automobile Company – in early-1901, the inventor was in dire need of fresh capital to launch what would eventually become the Ford Motor Company.

So, in an effort to put his name out there and attract investors, Henry Ford built the 1901 Ford Sweepstakes race car. (Excuse us if you’ve heard the story already.)

Later the same year, the Ford Sweepstakes handily defeated a car built and raced by Alexander Winton, who was no small name in automobile building and racing at the time. The race took place at the Detroit Driving Club in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, over the course of ten, one-mile laps of the oval track. The resulting publicity allowed Henry Ford to raise the funding needed to launch his second automobile company, and effectively change the way the world gets around.

The Ford Sweepstakes makes for an interesting story, and an even more interesting car. You can read all about it at (which discusses such quirky details as the car’s steel-reinforced ash wood frame, and mid-mounted, 539-cubic-inch two-cylinder engine), and when you’re ready, watch Brad Keselowski take NBC’s Kelli Stavast around Michigan International Speedway in the 1015-year-old car in the video above.

You’re welcome.

Aaron Brzozowski is a writer and motoring enthusiast from Detroit with an affinity for '80s German steel. He is not active on the Twitter these days, but you may send him a courier pigeon.

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