Auto racing has the biggest fan following in the world.  More fans attend car races than any other sport.  And on this date in 1901 Henry Ford himself drove in a car race at Grosse Point, Michigan for the first and last time.  Ford had a talent for building and promoting cars, but in the early years it wasn’t the practical uses of a car that attracted the most attention.  It was the thrill of racing them.  Ford had been building cars since 1896 and recognized that people enjoyed watching car races, so he decided to cash in his name as a race car builder and driver. 
Ford drove one of three cars entered in a 10-lap main event.  One of the other drivers was clearly the best driver, but his car began leaving a trail of smoke after just three laps and had to quit.  Ford won the race and the attention he’d been hoping for, but said the whole thing was so terrifying that he retired as a competitive driver, saying "once was enough."

Henry Ford established the Ford Motor Company the following year and racing has always been important to the company.  Ford is the only automaker that has won the Indy 500, Daytona 500, 24-Hours of Daytona and LeMans, 12 hours of Sebring, the Monte Carlo Rally and the Baja 1000.