Ford’s VR App Lets You Experience Life as a Race Car Driver

A thrill ride at Le Mans

Headshot of Christine Birkner

Virtual reality makes a lot of sense for auto brands—after all, what better way to show off your car's features than to put consumers in the virtual driver's seat? But Ford took its virtual reality experience to the next level with its new VR app that launches today and lets users immerse themselves in stories related to the brand.

The first such story is a behind-the-scenes look at 24 Hours of Le Mans, a daylong sports car race in France that driver Joey Hand won this year in his Ford-sponsored GT race car. Hand narrates the driving experience, which also shows the pit crew's work during the race and a view from the Ferris wheel at the track.

"A lot of automotive manufacturers are just sticking a VR camera in a car. We wanted this to have more of a story arc to it, and pushed it to an experience where people felt like they went to this race in France," said Erich Joiner, founder of Tool of North America, the production company that created the video.

On Tuesday, Ford announced its plans to release a driverless car for ride-sharing services in 2021; the VR app lets consumers experience Ford's product innovations like this one in a new way, said Lisa Schoder, Ford's digital marketing manager.

"We wanted to approach VR from a storytelling perspective and bring to life the innovations and the spirit of the brand. It's giving someone an experience that they may never have otherwise had," she said.

The next VR story, which will launch in September, features more racing content, and future stories will show scenes from the studios and labs working on Ford's latest technology. Users with their push notifications turned on will get updates when new content goes live and will be able to share the content on social media.

@ChristineBirkne Christine Birkner is a Chicago-based freelance writer who covers marketing and advertising.