July 6 2006
FAMOUS FORD GT40 VICTORY
CELEBRATED AT THE LE MANS CLASSIC
summer is the 40th anniversary of Fords historic 1-2-3 finish at
the 24 Hours of Le Mans with the Ford GT40. The anniversary will be celebrated
in style at the 2006 Le Mans Classic event.
On Sunday, June 19, 1966, a trio of sleek Ford GT Mark II endurance racers
crossed a rain-soaked finish line at the famous La Sarthe circuit in Le
Mans, convincingly achieving Fords goal of beating Ferrari to the
ultimate international racing success.
Marking the 40th Anniversary
at Le Mans
A special event will
mark the anniversary of the historic Ford victory at this years
Le Mans Classic, scheduled for July 7-9 at the famous circuit. Ford will
present the 1966-1971 grid at this years running of the bi-annual
event, which has quickly become one of the leading vintage-racing occasions
Six grids divided into decades from 1923 to 1979 will participate in the
2006 Classic. The 1966-71 grid, sponsored by Ford, appropriately embraces
the GT40 winner of the 24 Hours of LeMans in 1966, 1967, 1968 and
1969 and its contemporary competitors.
A strong collection of historic GT40 race cars is expected to be at Le
Mans for the Classic, and many will compete in the race, including the
original second- and third-place cars from the 1966 running of the 24
Hours of Le Mans. The race is also expected to attract a strong contingent
of GT40 competitors from Ferrari, Porsche and other important marques,
plus examples of the Ford Mustang, itself a formidable competitor in the
for the Blue Oval
Seen as the American
challenge to Ferrari, the Ford GT40 was a truly international project
which underscored the determination and global ambitions of Ford Motor
Company and its Chairman, Henry Ford II. Its name was derived from a simple
fact the sculpted and purposeful endurance racing car stood just
40 inches tall.
Ford and legendary names of motorsport including the creator of
the Shelby Cobra, Carroll Shelby teamed up for the 1966 event and
a new version of the GT40 the Mark II was entered for the
Having already won the 1966 Daytona and Sebring endurance races in America,
Ford was confident of breaking its Le Mans jinx. More than a dozen Ford
GTs were entered, driven by such famous pilots as Bruce McLaren, Dan Gurney,
Mark Donohue, Mario Andretti, Graham Hill, Jochen Rindt, Guy Ligier, Peter
Revson and Jacky Ickx.
After the trials of 24 hours, including mechanical breakdowns and inevitable
crashes, three Ford GTs were leading the field. The victory went to Shelby
Americans black No. 2 car, driven by McLaren and Chris Amon. It
edged another Shelby entry, the light blue No. 1 car of Ken Miles and
Denny Hulme. Third place went to Holman Moodys gold No. 5 car, driven
by Ronnie Bucknum and Dick Hutcherson.
Ford GTs would go on to win Le Mans the next three seasons and score victories
at other important international races.
Bringing the Winners
Given the significance
of the anniversary, Ford of Europe is bringing the privately-owned winning
Ford GT Mark II from 1966 all the way from the USA to attend the 2006
Le Mans Classic. It is set to be the first time in 10 years that all three
of the Ford 1966 1-2-3 finishers will be seen together at Le Mans.
The black No. 2 Ford GT Mark II is now owned by an American collector.
It will be reunited with the second- and third-place cars from 1966
both of which are expected to be competing in the Le Mans Classic
at the event.
The presence of the winning car makes it possible for Ford and the Le
Mans Classic 2006 organisers to recreate the famous 1966 finish for a
special photo opportunity for race fans. It is a way for Ford to support
the lasting outpouring of enthusiasm for the Ford GT40 long after its
involvement in frontline motorsport came to an end.
A Loyal Following
Joining the celebration
will be many owners of the new Ford GT, the rare 21st century supercar
inspired by the original Ford GT40. Sold by Ford to just 101 customers
in Europe, and developed as a result of Ford's global centennial celebrations
in 2003, the new Ford GT carries the key strands of the DNA of the Ford
GT40 forward for new generations. A convoy of Ford GT owners from Britain,
Germany, Switzerland and France is expected to attend the event, along
with owners who have independently imported Ford GTs to Europe.
Off the circuit, the Le Mans Classic 2006 is expected to draw the owners
of scores of GT40 replicas as well. Thanks to the efforts of specialist
manufacturers, even today enthusiasts can get a taste of the GT40 zeitgeist
through building and owning a replica, some of which are astonishingly
true to the design and construction of the original cars.
Ford of Europe will also participate with its own roadgoing GT40 Mk III,
chassis number M3/1107, which has been in Fords hands as a press
demonstrator since new in 1969. It is one of only seven GT40 road cars