Ford Announces Bronco Prototype Completes Baja 1000, Makes Executive Change, and Launches Ford Law Career Academy

On Sunday, the Bronco R Race Prototype, piloted by Cameron Steele, Shelby Hall, and a team of veteran Ford off-road racers, finished the 53rd SCORE-International Baja 1000 in Class 2 in just over 32 hours. The race adds to Bronco’s storied history at Baja dating back to 1967.
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Bronco R Race Prototype
The Bronco R Race Prototype finished the 53rd SCORE-International Baja 1000 in Class 2 in just over 32 hours. // Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Co.

On Sunday, the Bronco R Race Prototype, piloted by Cameron Steele, Shelby Hall, and a team of veteran Ford off-road racers, finished the 53rd SCORE-International Baja 1000 in Class 2 in just over 32 hours. The race adds to Bronco’s storied history at Baja dating back to 1967.

Sharing in the effort were co-drivers Johnny Campbell, Curt LeDuc, and Jason Scherer.

“When Bronco returned, we said it would follow in the legacy of the first-generation Broncos that forever changed the off-road landscape — and today’s finish demonstrates we’re continuing the ‘Built Wild’ pedigree of Bronco,” says Mark Rushbrook, global director, Ford Performance motorsports.

Powered by a fully stock Ford 2.7-liter EcoBoost engine and Ford 10-speed SelectShift automatic transmission, the Bronco R Race Prototype serves as a testbed for Bronco Built Wild Extreme Testing durability regimen and for the final the Baja Mode calibrations for the Terrain Management System with G.O.A.T. Modes on the production versions.

A pre-production 2021 Bronco two-door Outer Banks series with Sasquatch off-road Package also made its first appearance in the Baja Mexico desert.

The successful finish underscores Bronco brand’s performance legacy at Baja, which includes the first-ever overall production 4×4 class win in 1969 Baja 1000 — a feat no other manufacturer has accomplished since.

Overall, the first-generation Broncos claimed five Baja 1000 class wins (1967, ’69, ’69, ’71, and ’72) and two overall Baja 500 victories in 1970 and 1973. Later model year Broncos (1978-95) continued the legendary winning streak with nine Baja 500 Class 3 wins from 2004 to 2015 and 15 Baja 1000 Class 3 wins between 2002 to 2019.

Ford is the Official Truck and SUV of SCORE-International Off-Road Racing and lead sponsor of the SCORE World Desert Challenge Series, which includes the 2019-22 SCORE Baja 1000 races. Ford also is the official vehicle of the Ultra4 King of the Hammers competition.

To learn more about Bronco and Bronco Sport, please visit Ford.com/Bronco.

Ford also announced today that Vijay Sankaran has opted not to rejoin the company, citing personal reasons. The company previously announced that Sankaran, 47, had accepted an offer to become Ford’s chief software and information officer beginning this week, after serving seven years with TD Ameritrade.

“Vijay informed us that while he was excited by the opportunity to rejoin Ford during this transformative period for the company, he decided he wanted to take some time off to spend with his family before entering the next phase of his career,” says Jim Farley, president and CEO of Ford. “We respect his decision and wish him the best in the future.”

Ford says Jeff Lemmer will continue as its chief information officer for the rest of the year.  The company will announce a permanent senior leader to oversee technology, software, and data in the near future.

“This was a difficult decision, as I was very interested in returning to Ford to help advance the company’s transformation, but I determined after much thought that I needed to take a break to devote more time to my family and recharge before taking on a new leadership role,” says Sankaran, who previously served 12 years with Ford’s information technology team until 2013. “Despite this decision, I’m confident Ford has a bright future and extend my best wishes to my former colleagues.”

In turn, with the singular mission of bringing diversity to the practice of law, Ford — with the support of its philanthropic arm, Ford Motor Company Fund, and Henry Ford Learning Institute — has developed the Ford Law Career Academy.

The four-year program is being piloted in two metro Detroit high schools, with an innovative curriculum designed to fill a void by inspiring and empowering students of color to explore law careers.

“I know what it means to have strong mentors in my life, and I want that same experience for today’s students of color,” says Alison Nelson, a lawyer at Ford counsel and a program champion. “We have a responsibility to work toward diversity, inclusion, and racial equality.

“I am the proud product of Detroit public schools, was the first child in my family to graduate college, and was the first to become a lawyer,” she adds. “I want more children of color to consider the law profession.”

Ford Law Career Academy, created in cooperation with educators and Ford’s legal office, introduces students to a range of practice areas. The program gives them the tools to take the first steps in developing the skills, mindset, knowledge, and networking all lawyers need for success, and in turn will help increase the diversity of people within the field.

In addition to the company’s own lawyers, attorneys from law firms that work for Ford will support the academy through coaching, mentoring and internships.

Ford is collaborating with two charter schools serving Detroit-area youth — Henry Ford Academy and University Preparatory Academy High School — to pilot the program. Students begin elective coursework as freshmen and progress through four years of learning that includes law theory, mock trials, and field training with law firm partners.

The program culminates with a senior thesis-type project, with graduates prepared to go on to pursue a formal prelaw curriculum at the university level, ideally followed by law school. Henry Ford Academy is launching a slightly modified program this academic year, while University Preparatory Academy High School will introduce the program in fall 2021.

Right now, African Americans make up more than 13 percent of the U.S. population, but 5 percent of lawyers — the same as 10 years ago — according to the American Bar Association.

At the same time, the Hispanic National Bar Association reports Hispanics make up 18 percent of the U.S. population, and comprise roughly 4 percent of U.S. lawyers. Since 2000 the number of Asian American lawyers has grown from 20,000 to 53,000 in 2018, comprising nearly 5 percent of all lawyers nationwide, according to Harvard University. And according to the American Bar Association, there are 2,640 Native American lawyers in the country, making up 0.2 percent of the attorneys in the U.S.

“Our team wants to help change that,” says Nelson. “As the U.S. works through a long overdue reckoning on race, we believe now is the time to act, and the law is where so much of real change happens.

“Ford wants to be a changemaker, by making the law accessible, representative and welcoming to children of color who otherwise may never have considered entering this field or believed it was closed off to them,” she adds.

Encouraging students to become aware of and passionate about the law will fundamentally change the practice at all levels. In turn, more diverse racial, ethnic and cultural perspectives can help assure a broader range of voices, including the Black experience, is heard and will matter in the eyes of the law.

Nelson says programs at the pilot schools aren’t the end goal. Ford already is working to identify additional high schools across the country to scale and replicate the program with the goal of having a national presence as quickly as possible.

“I want to see more people of color influencing the law and improving communities through representation and inclusion,” says Nelson. “I want to help make that change. We should all want to.”

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