Ford CEO Jim Farley makes podium at iconic Le Mans Classic race

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Ford CEO Jim Farley, a longtime race car driver who finds relaxation behind the wheel in a fire resistant jumpsuit, competed in the biennial  Le Mans Classic in France over the Fourth of July weekend, the company confirmed Tuesday.

The iconic race is made up of different cars in different classes, based on the age of the vehicle. He placed second in class driving his 1965 GT40, Ford spokeswoman Lori Arpin confirmed Tuesday.

"A dream come true ... Three hours of flat-out racing against some of the best drivers I know," the auto executive tweeted from @jimfarley98 on July 4.

Ford CEO Jim Farley raced his 1965 GT40 at the Le Mans Classic in France in July and placed second. He is seen here with his race car at the Goodwood race in the U.K.
Ford CEO Jim Farley raced his 1965 GT40 at the Le Mans Classic in France in July and placed second. He is seen here with his race car at the Goodwood race in the U.K.

"This was Jim’s best-ever performance at the Le Mans Classic, which is regarded as the premier sports car race for historic vehicles in the world," Arpin said.

The GT40 that Farley drove is chassis number 1109, one of the last four cars built, she said. "Jim has owned and raced this car for a few years now, having converted the car from red to a factory Ford dark blue with Wimbledon white stripes."

The vehicle, purchased and kept in Belgium, is prepared by the renowned Mec Auto for races around Europe and beyond. Farley has raced the car at Le Mans Classic, Goodwood Revival and the Spa 6 Hour race in Belgium with his race partner, Eric van der Poole, Arpin said.

Previously, Farley raced his 1978 Lola 298 at the Le Mans Classic.

Bill Ford, executive chair of Ford Motor Co., officially signed off on Farley continuing to race his vintage cars after Farley took the helm as CEO in October 2020. The company sees it as keeping a unique connection to the product.

The GT40 can reach 200 mph, Farley told the Free Press in 2019.

In February 2021, he raced his beloved 1978 Lola T298 to first in class, fourth overall, at the Sebring SpeedTour in Florida. It's a 17-turn, 3.74-mile airport course that trained bomber pilots during World War II. After the war, the property was turned into a race course.

150 mph

He also made the podium racing his 1966 Cobra. Farley reached 150 mph in his Lola and 140 mph in his Cobra.

Jim Farley, CEO of Ford, placed first in class and fourth overall racing his 1978 Lola T298 in the the Sebring SpeedTour in Sebring, Florida. This photo was taken Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021.
Jim Farley, CEO of Ford, placed first in class and fourth overall racing his 1978 Lola T298 in the the Sebring SpeedTour in Sebring, Florida. This photo was taken Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021.

Farley isn't the only auto executive who has a passion for speed; others include General Motors President Mark Reuss, Toyota President Akio Toyoda and Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares.

'Talented driver'

In May 2021, Farley flew to California to compete in the Trans Am SpeedTour at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca series organized by the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association. His race came after Ford released a first-quarter earnings report that exceeded investor expectations. He raced his 1966 Cobra and won.

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“Jim Farley is a very talented driver and a true sportsman," Tony Parella, CEO of Parella Motorsports Holdings, which owns the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association, told the Free Press in February 2021.

"You would never know he is the CEO of Ford," Parella said. "He is fun to have in the paddock."

Contact Phoebe Wall Howard: 313-618-1034 or phoward@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @phoebesaid. Read more on Ford and sign up for our autos newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Ford CEO Jim Farley places 2nd in class at Le Mans Classic in France