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New Book Chronicles Behind-The-Scenes Look At Ford Racing History
Sun, 15 Jun 2003, 22:30

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(NAPSI)-Henry Ford's much-heralded victory in a 10-mile automobile race on a horse track in Grosse Pointe, Mich., in 1901, was the beginning of a century-long involvement in the business of motorsports for a company that would soon bear his name.

Just in time for Ford Racing's 100th anniversary celebration, author Leo Levine's comprehensive historical look into the Ford Motor Company's involvement on the global speed stage, Ford: The Dust and the Glory, Volume 2 (1968-2000), has just been released by SAE Press.

Levine's book tells of great Ford drivers-Mario Andretti, Bill Elliot, John Force, Bob Glidden, Dale Jarrett, Jackie Stewart and Cale Yarborough-and great events-Stewart's three Formula One championships in five years and Elliot's incredible NASCAR Winston Cup record 11 superspeedway victories in 1985-over the past 33 years.

More importantly, the book also describes how much the sport has evolved over the years. The most notable change, according to Levine, is the ability to watch a race without being at the track.

"The most important technical invention, improvement, and achievement in the history of motorsports, is the television camera," he says.

"Up until 1979 or '80Écable television was only for sections of the country, behind mountains, where reception was bad. It was a technical aid, it wasn't a programming aid. And then in about 1979 or '80 we got ESPN and CNN and the cable channels began to provide their own programming. And then we got satellite transmission, so you could do it all over the country. And, all of a sudden, you had all these providers and they needed programming and racing was cheap programming.

"Now, you can't take television out of the equation. Racing used to be for racing's sake. Now, it's a marketing tool."

The Dust and the Glory, though thorough in its profile of Ford racing history, is not written just for race fans.

"This is written for the guy who's not necessarily interested in auto racing, but would like to know something about the sport," says Levine, who first wrote the well-regarded Ford: The Dust and the Glory, in 1968, covering Ford's involvement in racing from 1901 to 1967.

"For example, in the first book I'd never explain what a rally was," he says. "If you didn't know what a rally wasÉWell, now we explain what a rally is. We explain what Formula One is, and why it's called Formula One."

Levine put plenty of legwork and research into The Dust and the Glory, Volume 2, starting in January 1999.

"I did a lot of driving, a lot of talking, a lot of looking at the sport today," he says. "I would find the old-timers in the place who remembered me and the [first] book, and they couldn't have been more helpful."

The title of both books is a reference to part of a letter written by Henry Ford's wife, Clara, to her brother following Henry's victory in his first and only auto race in October 1901. With that win, Ford-who was "covered in glory and dust," according to Clara-caught the attention of financial backers who would ultimately help him establish the Ford Motor Company in 1903.

The car that Ford drove to victory a century ago, known as "Sweepstakes," will be one of the automobiles featured at the Ford Racing Centennial Festival in Dearborn, Mich., on Oct. 13-14, 2001. Some of Ford's past LeMans and Indianapolis 500 winners, as well as past Trans-Am champions will be there, along with legendary drivers such as Stewart, Glidden, Dan Gurney, Parnelli Jones and Ned Jarrett, the Wood Brothers and Cosworth founders Mike Costin and Keith Duckworth.

All to commemorate 100 years of Ford racing-something Leo Levine has done with two volumes of Ford: The Dust and the Glory.

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