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RAW: Ford GT40 Lets Loose On Track

RAW: Ford GT40 Lets Loose on Track


Write-up by Travis Wolcott. Video by Marchettino.

The Ford GT40: standing at just 40 inches in height it looks small, even as it passes a Ferrari 360 Modena. If you've never seen one in person, they really are incredibly compact, just the bare essentials of a mid-engine racing car with a body wrapped around it. The sound it makes, however, is anything but diminutive.

The GT40 was birthed from Ford's desire to beat the dominant cars at Le Mans in the 60s. At the time, that meant Ferrari. A quest that was no doubt fueled by a failed attempt by Ford to buy Ferrari in 1963. Beating them would be no small feat, especially considering the Italian powerhouse was on its sixth consecutive Le Mans victory by the time the Ford program was getting its act together. The GT40 first raced at the Nürburgring 1000 km in 1964, but failed to finish. By 1966, however, the GT40 had won Le Mans. It wasn't just a fluke, as they backed that up by winning the next three years as well. Some great names drove America's most iconic race car: Dan Gurney, Jacky Ickx, Bruce McLaren, Bob Bondurant, Ken Miles, Mark Donohue and A.J. Foyt to name just a few.

Early GT40s used either a 4.7- or a 4.9-liter small block V8 in the MkI, then later a mighty 7.0-liter monster as in this delicious Mk II. You could even have it as a very exclusive road car, the Mk III. Though it was always destined to compete at the fabled Le Mans 24 Hour, Spa-Francorchamps is still a fitting track for this GT40's workout. Jacky Ickx and Brian Redman won the 1000-km race at Spa in 1968 in a MkI.




The GT40's legacy as a world beating racer lives on through numerous recreations and even Ford's own modern GT. But, the soundtrack of the golden age of motor racing will never be truly replicated. So let's be glad these original American legends are still out there shouting at the likes of Ferrari through that glorious bundle of snakes exhaust.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Travis Wolcott (SalfaRomeaab)

I grew up in Stuart, FL and began racing when I was just 14 in go karts and began competing in endurance karting events. From there I trained in Formula cars with Skip Barber Racing Schools and won my first race in a Formula Dodge from pole. I graduated from Jensen Beach High School and moved to Colorado to attend the University of Colorado at Boulder. My first full season in a sports car came in 2010 with GO 4 IT Racing Schools when I claimed a National Championship in SCCA Club Racing in the Rocky Mountain Division in Showroom Stock B, setting 3 lap records, one of which still stands today at Miller Motorsports Park. In 2011, I raced two Spec M3 races, winning both of those from pole position. This year marked my introduction into professional racing in a 2012 Volkswagen Jetta GLI in the Pirelli World Challenge with Emich Volkswagen and 3ZERO3 Motorsports. I claimed two podium finishes from my first two professional events at two unfamiliar tracks working with renowned racers, Robb Holland and Gary Sheehan. In December 2012 I won my class at the 25 Hours of Thunderhill. My ultimate, personal racing goal is to compete at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

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