DEARBORN, Mich. -- Despite a dismal economic outlook for U.S. automakers, the Ford Motor Co. on Wednesday extended its support of Roush Fenway Racing's NASCAR program.
The extension comes a day after billionaire Kirk Kerkorian's investment firm sold part of its stake in Ford, prompting other investors to follow.
Ford, the No. 2 automaker in the United States, has shuttered plants and downsized its work force in an attempt to return to profitability as high gas prices and a slumping economy have taken their toll on automotive industry.
"Everybody knows that the auto industry in this country is facing some difficult times, but the loyalty and commitment Jack [Roush] and his entire organization have shown us throughout these past few months has been inspiring," said Brian Wolfe, director of Ford Racing Technology. "We're grateful to have long-term relationships like this and look forward to continued success winning races and championships together."
On Oct. 10, Ford shares hit $1.88, marking their lowest level since April 19, 1983, according to the Center for Research in Security Prices at the University of Chicago.
Despite the troubles, Ford remains committed to a NASCAR relationship that has tallied 589 Cup wins dating back to Jimmy Florian's 1950 victory at Dayton Speedway. Ford has been involved in racing since Henry Ford won his first and only race Oct. 10, 1901, and used the notoriety from that event to attract financial investors to help establish Ford Motor Co. in 1903.
"The main reason that we are involved in NASCAR is to use it as a marketing platform to help us sell cars and trucks," Wolfe said. "That's the key to our continued involvement. But make no mistake, the plan to achieve that kind of return requires us to beat Chevrolet, Dodge and Toyota on the race track."
Roush also has 95 Nationwide Series wins and championships with Greg Biffle (2002) and Carl Edwards (2007), as well as a series-best 49 wins in the Truck Series, including a series title in 2000 with Biffle.
"It's great to see Ford's continued commitment to not just Roush Fenway but the great sport of racing," said Roush, whose first job out of college was as a Ford engineer in 1964.