April 12, 2011 - 2:49pm

LOS ANGELES, CA. (April 12, 2011) -- Edsel B. Ford II announced today at the Motor Press Guild in Los Angeles a renewed search  for a famous punch bowl racing trophy won by his great- grandfather and undertaken by Ford Racing and Henry Ford Museum.

When Henry Ford won his debut race on Oct. 10, 1901, beating Alexander Winton in what turned out to be a match race at the Detroit Driving Club in Grosse Pointe, MI, Ford was awarded a cut-glass punch bowl.  For more than 50 years that trophy has been missing and Ford Motor Co. would like to get it back.

“The story is that Clara, Henry Ford’s wife, had it in the house and then when she died we couldn’t find the punch bowl.  I went back through the archives and, unfortunately, I couldn’t find it anywhere,” said Edsel Ford.  “It would have had a really nice meaning, especially as we celebrated the 100th anniversary of Ford Racing.”

Now, 10 years later, Ford Racing is in the midst of its 110th anniversary, the program has resumed its effort to track down the elusive bowl.

The fact this item has become such a treasure to the Ford family is based in part by the way it was won.  Henry Ford was hoping to start an auto company, but was having trouble finding investors to get the project off the ground.  He decided to compete in the 25-lap race that October day with a car he called “Sweepstakes” in the hopes his product would attract some interest.

There were 8,000 fans in attendance, including many newspaper writers to document the event.  The race was ultimately shortened to 10 laps because the other events had gone longer than expected, and the field was trimmed to two when mechanical issues forced other entrants to withdraw. 

The two competitors were Ford and Alexander Winton, who was and automobile builder from Cleveland, OH, and recognized as one of the top racers in the country.  In fact, Winton’s team was so confident of winning that the punch bowl was purposely chosen by his sales manager, who convinced organizers to help him select the trophy because he wanted something that would look good in the bay window of Winton’s home.

That thinking appeared accurate when the race started and Winton’s pronounced horsepower advantage allowed him to sprint to a big lead, but Ford’s car was built for endurance and reliability.  About halfway through the race, Ford began to close the gap.  When Winton’s car began to smoke and sputter on lap seven, Ford was able to catch and pass him in front of a cheering grandstand en route to winning by a wide margin.

Ford’s win did exactly as he hoped.  Investors began lining up and helped support the effort that eventually led to the formation of Ford Motor Co. 20 months later in June, 1903.

The trophy which was won that day sat in Ford’s Fairlane Estate in Dearborn, MI, until sometime after his death in 1947.  When Clara died three years later, many of the family possessions were sold at auction, including the punch bowl.  Records have been found that show the bill of sale, but it does not list the buyer’s name.  So the search continues.

 “A footnote of history is that sometimes it gets away from us.  Frankly, the punch bowl has meant a lot to me personally,” said Edsel Ford.  “I was hopeful that a few years ago we were actually on our way to finding it, but that didn’t happen.”

If anyone has information regarding the whereabouts of the cut-glass punch bowl, please contact the Benson Ford Research Center at The Henry Ford.

Benson Ford Research Center

The Henry Ford

PO Box 1970

Dearborn, MI.  48121-1970

Phone: 313-982-6020

Fax: 313-982-6244

Website: www.hfmgv.org






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