William Clay Ford Jr., the Executive Chairman of the Ford Motor Company, has been named the honorary stater for the 83rd running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Ford, the great-grandson of Henry Ford, will wave the tri-colour flag to get the race underway, following in the footsteps of his uncle, Henry Ford II, who served as the starter in 1966.
“The history of my family is very closely linked to the legendary La Sarthe circuit event,” Bill Ford said. “Fifty years ago, the duel with Ferrari out on the track became one of milestone periods in the history of motorsport.
“It’s a great honor to come to the Le Mans 24 Hours this year and drop the flag to start this legendary endurance race as my uncle did back in 1966.”
The appointment of Ford as honorary starter adds more fuel to the reports that the Detroit manufacturer will be officially announcing its return to the French endurance classic at Le Mans next month.
The much-reported factory Ford GT effort would coincide with the 50th anniversary of Ford’s first overall win the race.
Bill Ford joined the company’s Board of Directors in 1998 and has been Ford’s chairman since 1999, before being named executive chairman in 2006.
He becomes the second American to serve as race starter in the last three years, following IMSA Chairman Jim France in 2013.