(NAPSI)—A hundred years ago, auto entrepreneur Henry Ford was given a cut-glass punch bowl. Now a nationwide search for it is on. |
That’s because the bowl represents the most significant victory in Ford Motor Company racing history. Unfortunately, it doesn’t rest among the many other trophies, prizes and awards won by Ford over the last 100 years. It was auctioned off over a half century ago.
The bowl had been one of Ford’s most cherished possessions, given to him on October 10, 1901, following his only racing victory. That win launched what turned out to be his highly successful worldwide racing program, which in 2001 celebrates its 100th anniversary with a series of special events and programs.
Now, Henry’s great-grandson Edsel B. Ford II, would like to find the trophy that represents the beginning of his family’s company.
“A footnote to history is that sometimes it gets away from us,” Edsel Ford said. “The trophy Henry Ford won that day was in his home until after he died 46 years later. By then, nobody knew the importance of that cut-glass punch bowl. It went to an art gallery in New York, then was sold to a private collector. Nobody has seen it since.
“We want it back. It’s more than just a piece of history to us—it’s a symbol of our heritage.”
Henry Ford was a decided underdog in that storied 10-mile race against Alexander Winton in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. Ford had never raced before and his car—nicknamed “Sweepstakes”—was seriously outpowered. In an era when race cars produced more than 40 horsepower, Winton’s had 70 and “Sweepstakes” just 26.
Ford, though, was trying to prove something. He believed that an efficient, lightweight vehicle could outperform bigger cars. The family car he eventually produced, the celebrated Model T, would also have 26 horsepower.
Although Winton, the foremost auto racer in the United States at the time, led seven of the first 10 laps around the one-mile track, his car’s engine began sputtering. Ford and “Sweepstakes” passed him in front of the 8,000 people in the grandstands and went on to win with an average speed of 45 mph.
The victory was worth $1,000—and that cut-glass punch bowl.
More importantly, several financial investors took note of the unlikely victory and helped Ford start what would become Ford Motor Company in June 1903.
How unlikely was Ford’s vital victory?
“The race promoters, in fact, were so certain that Winton would win that they picked out a beautiful cut-glass punch bowl set as a trophy,” Edsel Ford explained. “They figured it would look well in the bay window of the Winton home.”
Instead, it occupied a prominent position in Ford’s Fairlane Estate home in Dearborn, Michigan, until after his death in 1947. Following the death of his wife, Clara, in 1950, the prize was one of many of the Ford’s possessions that were auctioned off.
“We did recently find ‘Sweepstakes,’ and now we’re completely restoring the original car,” Edsel Ford said. “As for the punch bowl trophy—well, we’re looking to see if we can engage the public to help us find our first of so many racing trophies.”
Persons who may know information about the location of the Henry Ford punch bowl trophy are asked to send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or mail information to Ford Racing Communications, P.O. Box 490, Dearborn, Michigan, 48121.
It’s a chance to really impress the folks at Ford, you might say, to bowl them over.
Only one known photograph of the punch bowl is in existence. This photo was taken in 1930.
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