In 2020, Ford became the official truck, non-luxury SUV, car, and van of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby. While the COVID-19 pandemic forced organizers to delay last year’s event for nearly four months and run without a live audience, the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby will occur on its traditional date this year on the first Saturday of May.
“With two Ford plants located right in Louisville, the Derby feels like an event in the company’s second hometown,” said Jim Peters, Brand Content & Alliances Manager, Ford Motor Company. “This sponsorship and contribution to the local community are a big source of pride and reflect Ford’s larger commitment to America.”
Ford has long enjoyed a strong presence in the state of Kentucky and the city of Louisville, thanks to the Ford Louisville Assembly Plant – which builds the Ford Escape and Lincoln Corsair, as well as the Ford Kentucky Truck Plant, which builds the Ford F-Series Super Duty, Ford Expedition, and Lincoln Navigator.
The event at Churchill Downs will take place at about 50 percent reserved seating capacity and 30 percent in the Infield. Being the largest fan-attended sporting event since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, masks are required in all locations and a fixed seating plan in certain areas reflects social distancing guidelines. To further aid in maintaining the safety of attendees, Ford is providing more than 150,000 face masks for Churchill Downs employees and race fans.
“With the delays to last year’s event due to COVID-19, Ford’s participation in this uniquely American tradition is long overdue,” Peters added. “The Kentucky Derby is the longest-running sporting event in the United States, and one of the most iconic celebrations of the year. Our workhorse trucks play a huge role supporting the many aspects of the equine and racing industries; we’re participating in this event not only to engage the broad range of customers that take part in the Derby, but to support the community in Kentucky as well.”
As the official truck, non-luxury SUV, car, and van of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby, Ford is hosting on-site activations throughout Derby Week. Each Kentucky Oaks and Derby horse owner will receive a Ford Explorer to use during the event. Additionally, Derby attendees can experience a wide variety of displays highlighting the Ford lineup.