The Henry Ford Museum in Detroit will become home to one of the most comprehensive motorsport exhibitions in the world later this year.
Covering stock cars, sports cars, Indy cars, drag racing, hill climbs and land-speed projects, Driven to Win: Racing in America presented by General Motors offers visitors an in-depth look at the some of the cars that have helped define American racing, and also highlights the people, culture and innovations centered within the sport.
“We’d like to think that there are a couple of things that set us apart,” Matt Anderson, The Henry Ford’s curator of transportation, told RACER.
“Certainly there are other museums in the United States that go deeper into specific forms of racing, but we’d like to think that we do a nice broad presentation across all the major forms of racing that are popular here in the U.S..
“And it’s not just about the cars, we’re also focusing on the drivers and the team members behind some of these racing efforts. Not only will you see the cars and learn their stories, you’ll be able to train like a racing driver, using the same equipment and programs that they do – not just strength training, but some of the reaction and mental training. Jim Leo has let us build replicas of some of the equipment that he has [at PitFit, Leo’s Indianapolis-based driver conditioning center], and I’m not aware of any other museums that have anything quite like that, so it will be something special.”
In addition to driver conditioning, visitors will be able to explore interactive zones focused on design and engineering, as well as full-motion simulators offering virtual laps on some of the world’s most challenging venues.
For many though, the stars will be the cars.
“We have a really strong collection of cars, and some real game-changing cars, like Jimmy Clark’s [rear-engine] Lotus from the 1965 Indy 500, and the 1967 GT40 Mk IV, which is in the news now with the Ford v Ferrari movie,” Anderson said.
“We’ve acquired a few new surprises that I think we’ll excite people, too. And we’ve got our early cars, too – nobody else really has an early collection comparable to ours, with cars like Henry Ford’s ‘Sweepstakes’, which is one of the earliest surviving race cars anywhere. [ED: The car was built in 1901]. And of course, ‘Old 16’, the first American-built car to win the Vanderbilt Cup, is another special piece here.”
There’s room within the 24,000 square foot exhibition for other standouts, too: IndyCar fans will spot Rick Mear’s 1988 Indy-winning Penske PC-17 (main image), while more recent machinery includes a 2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, a track-ready performance car used in engineering tests at the Nurburgring.
“Racing is such a multisensory experience,” said Patricia Mooradian, president and CEO, The Henry Ford. “With Driven to Win, we hope to bring to life the excitement fans get at the race track and inspire our guests with the passionate stories of those innovators who have dedicated their lives to this exhilarating and game-changing sport.”
Driven to Win is scheduled to open to the public in June.