The worldwide boss of Ford, Jim Farley, has made a rapid-fire pre-Christmas visit to Melbourne.

    It was his first trip to Australia since he became chief executive officer of the Ford Motor Company in October 2020.

    Mr Farley was accompanied on his tour of local facilities by the former head of Ford Australia, Kay Hart, who is now the president of Ford’s International Markets Group.

    The worldwide head of Ford Performance, Mark Rushbrook, was also a member of the Farley party on one of his semi-regular visits to Australia as head of the motorsport operation in the USA that includes Supercars in Australia.

    Mr Farley managed to combine work with some play, as he jumped behind the wheel of a Supercars racer for hot laps at the Calder Park track on the outskirts of Melbourne.

    “Thank goodness we go racing,” Mr Farley said.

    His visit included time at the headquarters of Ford Australia, as well as a trip to the remanufacturing facility at Mickleham where RMA Automotive is switching the Ford F-150 pickup to right-hand drive.

    Ford’s National Parts Distribution Centre, located next-door to the F-150 facility, was another stop.

    He also did an all-staff Town Hall Meeting at Broadmeadows, where Ford Australia still maintains an extensive research and development facility – including a design studio – that works on a range of global projects for Ford including the Ranger pickup that is then manufactured in Thailand.

    Mr Farley’s time with Ford’s five Supercars teams included a catch-up with Dick Johnson, as well as Ford Mustang racer Cam Waters, whom he had previously met when the pair were doing individual driver training sessions in the UK.

    His rapid-fire immersion at Ford Australia also included players from the Geelong Cats, the AFL football team sponsored by Ford, as well as Ford customers and owners of classic Falcons.

    The Ford boss is a keen racer who owns a Ford GT40 classic sports car and a new Ford Mustang GT4, and had previously turned hot laps in the USA in a Supercars’ Mustang shipped from Australia.

    This time he rode alongside Mr Waters before taking the wheel of the car, as it had raced to victory at the Adelaide 500 last month in a tribute livery to the late Ken Block and Monster Energy. His early speed was limited by soaking-wet track conditions at Calder but he went progressively quicker as the track dried.

    “This is a dream come true for a CEO,” he said.

    “That was fun. So much more fun than the modern race cars I’ve driven. It’s all about the driver.

    “On the wrong side of the car… ” Mr Farley laughed.

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    Paul Gover

    Paul Gover is one of the most experienced and respected motoring journalists in Australia. After more than 40 years on the automotive beat there is nothing he has not done, yet he still brings the enthusiasm of a rookie. He has worked in print, digital, radio, television and for every major publisher in the country. He is also a national motor racing champion and once co-drove with Peter Brock at Bathurst.

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