Jim Farley, who replaced Jim Hackett as Ford CEO earlier this year, doesn’t just sell cars. He races them.
Farley has been racing vintage cars for more than a decade, and he received permission from executive chairman Bill Ford to continue racing alongside his new responsibilities as CEO.
It was probably the second conversation we had after we had talked about this leadership opportunity,” Farley said in a Ford-produced interview (via Autoblog). “I said, ‘You know, Bill, I just can’t stop racing. It’s just who I am. It’s my yoga. You’ve got to let me do this if I’m going to be a better CEO. He was very supportive.”
Farley started racing in 2008 after buying a Shelby 427 Cobra, according to Automotive News. He currently races a 1966 Ford GT40 and a 1978 Lola T298. Other cars in his collection include a 1932 Ford roadster, a 1965 Shelby GT350 Mustang, and a 2012 Mustang Boss 302 Laguna Seca. He also reportedly owns a 1987 BMW 325i convertible purchased new by his wife.
Senior Editor Kirk Bell rode with Farley in his 427 Cobra at a Ford event in 2014 and he can attest that Farley didn’t baby that car despite its collector value.
Ford CEO Jim Farley racing his 1978 Lola T298
The passion for cars started at a young age. As a teenager, Farley worked at a garage owned by Formula One champion Phil Hill, and once restored a 1966 Ford Mustang he paid $500 for, according to Top Gear.
In the interview, Farley said racing keeps him grounded.
“When I’m at the track, I’m just Jimmy Car-Car, nothing more. It’s a great way to stay humble and connected to the product, and it’s a great way for me to relax, because I love competing,” he said.
Farley isn’t the only automotive executive to trade a suit and tie for a helmet and overalls. Toyota president Akio Toyoda, General Motors president Mark Reuss, and PSA Group CEO Carlos Tavares all race. Toyoda even took his firm’s latest World Endurance Championship race car for a test drive.