Ford Announces Return to 24 Hours of Le Mans with Mustang Muscle Car
Ford is set to make a comeback to the 24 Hours of Le Mans with its iconic Mustang muscle car next year as part of a major rebranding effort for Ford Performance. The company aims to establish a stronger presence in the racing industry and position itself as a lifestyle brand with a sporting mindset.
The unveiling of the new Mustang Dark Horse-based race car took place on Friday and follows Ford’s previous announcement in February regarding its partnership with reigning Formula One world champion Red Bull, signaling its return to the sport in 2026.
The Mustang will compete in the GT3 category next year, entering at least two cars in both the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) and the World Endurance Championship (WEC). Ford also hopes to secure an invitation to the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans in the upcoming year. Multimatic, a leading motorsports engineering company, will oversee the factory Ford Performance program for the IMSA entries, while Proton Competition will manage the customer program for the WEC.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Ford CEO Jim Farley emphasized the availability of the Mustang to customer teams in various GT3 series worldwide. However, he stressed that the broader rebranding of Ford Performance, led by renowned motorsports designer Troy Lee, is the primary focus. The rebranding aims to position Ford as a lifestyle brand that embraces its iconic vehicles and caters to enthusiast customers.
Farley stated, “It’s kind of like the company finding its own, and rediscovering its icons, and doubling down on them…this motorsports activity is getting serious about connecting enthusiast customers with those rediscovered icons. It’s a big switch for the company — this is really about building strong, iconic vehicles with enthusiasts at the center of our marketing.”
Ford’s last venture into sports car racing was in 2019 with the Chip Ganassi Racing team. During that program, the team achieved a class win at Le Mans in 2016, strategically coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Ford ending Ferrari’s six-year winning streak.
At the recent event, Ford showcased a Mustang adorned with Lee’s redesigned livery, which reflects a cleaner and simplified look that will feature on all Ford racing vehicles. The traditional blue oval with “Ford Performance” in white lettering will now be rebranded as “FP.” This new mark will be incorporated across car liveries, merchandise, apparel, display assets, parts and accessories, and advertising materials.
Farley cited Porsche as an example of an automaker that successfully sells cars to consumers and races in various series worldwide while cultivating a culture of brand enthusiasts. He believes that Ford’s new direction will enable the company to sell street cars and race cars, generate interest in driving schools, and create a merchandise line that positions Ford as a hip and cool brand, appealing to consumers.
“We’re going to build a global motorsports business off road and on road…the design of the Mustang is unapologetically American,” Farley stated. He also praised Lee’s work as a renowned helmet designer for race car drivers.
Farley noted that Ford aims to surpass the success of Porsche and Aston Martin in building their motorsports businesses. “We’re going in the exact same direction. We just want to be better than them, that’s all…Second is the first loser,” he said.
Although an avid amateur racer himself, Farley did not attend the Le Mans announcement. However, Ford has a presence in the race through a NASCAR entry and the reigning Cup Series champion, Joey Logano, and Team Penske. The NASCAR “Garage 56” entry, a collaborative effort between Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet, and Goodyear, has garnered widespread acclaim within
the industry. While Farley acknowledged the excitement surrounding the NASCAR event, he emphasized Ford’s long-term commitment to Le Mans and its pursuit of victory against manufacturers like Porsche, Aston Martin, and Ferrari.
“They can have their NASCAR party, but that’s a one-year party…We won Le Mans outright four times, we won in the GT class, and we’re coming back with Mustang, and it’s not a one-year deal…I’ve got to beat Porsche and Aston Martin and Ferrari year after year after year,” Farley concluded.