Thursday, August 10, 2023

RETRO: The third coming of the Iconic Ford GT Racecar returns

When the Dearborn Giant revives it’s legendary Sports Car for more racing duty around the Globe!


Although it’s a fleeting memory now. Naturally one would say that these last, third generation of Ford’s venerable Halo GT racecars, or that's how I denote 'em. Obviously beginning with the legendous' GT40's of the 1960's have certainly Done “Job 1” for the Ford Motor company by claiming many victories world-wide.


As I say “GeN-3” especially since I still recall vacillating over obtaining an 1:18 scale AutoArt white No. 4 Ford GT Diecast racecar many years ago, modeled upon the 2005-06 version. Which I think I refrained from, since Thar wasn't an actual racing version at that point, as far as I can recollect…


Which of course I wishe I’d purchased now, since I do have a 1:18 scale Maisto Ford GT90 Concept Car in my cavernous Diecast collection! Even if it’s currently in a shoebox somewhere, but I digress…


As fortunately I’ve been able to witness countless Ford GT40’s, primarily Mk I’s in action at Pacific Raceway in Kent, WA. Portland International Raceway, Laguna Seca and Sonoma at various Vintage races. Where at the latter two California tracks, I’ve also seen a few of the Nasty Mk II’s and the (J-Car) Mk IV’s in action! Along with one fine Safir EngineeringMk V Ford GT40 model running the No. 17 being a fixture at the SOVREN events in Warshington’.


Not to mention seeing the 1966 24 Heurs du Mans winning No. 2 Ford GT Mk II on display at the IMS Museum upon my debutante trek to Mother speedway for the 2001 United States Grand Prix…


As I say fortunately, since this was Wayback’ when your Humble No Fenders Scribe Tomaso could still actually See them! Since have I reminded Y’all that I’m Blind lately? And hence, have never been able to see what the Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) Ford GT’s looked like, but I’m getting ahead of myself!


Whilst I’ve only ever seen a first generation (2005-06) Ford GT once some 15yrs ago at the Penske Auto Group facility’s “Used Cars” lot! When making my annual visit to the Penske Racing Museum with Blogmeister’ Miguel.


And it was a Bad Arse looking Supercar! Looking like a Killer Bee resplendent in bright yellow with the requisite, iconic twin Le Mans stripes in black!


Whilst I do still fondly recall when the unheralded couple of David & Andrea Robertson took their meagerly funded Privateer Doran built Ford GT-R Mk VII programme to Circuit de la Sarthe and made history by becoming the first Married couple to claim a Podium position at Le Mans. Bringing Thar No. 68 Ford GTR home third in the LMGTE Am Class in thou 2011 24 Heurs du Mans race debut!


As the Robertson’s shared their Roush Yates prepared 5.0-liter normally aspirated Ford GTR with David Murry, finishing 26th overall. Ironically with Larber Competition sweeping the classes top two podium steps.


As the No. 50 Larber Corvette C6.R won the LMGTE AM Class overall, followed by the team’s No. 70 Porsche 997 GT3-RSR.


Since ironically twelve years later, Larbre Competition won the final LMGTE Am category race at le Mans with it’s Corvette C8.R, but I digress…


With the icing on the Robertson’s Cake being that it was the couple's Wedding Anniversary that weekend, while Andrea became the first Female to stand on the Podium at Le Mans since 1931, Aye Karumba!


Presumably, since the ACO dropped the GT1 Class from Competizione beginning in 2011, with the then GT2 category being renamed LM GTE. This became the reason why Thar were no Ford GT’s contesting the 2012 24 Heurs du Mans, Say What?


Whilst sadly, Matech Concepts went out of business at the beginning of 2011. With no idea where their (Matech Competition) or the Marc VDS Racing Team’s Ford GT’s went?


Alas, FoMoCo' decided to Celebrate it's glorious Ford GT 40's success, and “Cash-in” by returning to racing with a Full-blown "Werks" effort with Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) running it’s four car Factory programme both near "N abroad.


With the ACO having updated the LM GTE regulations for 2016, which nicely coincided with the 50th anniversary of the first Ford GT40 victory at Le Mans. Ford built a new second generation ford GT racing version, now powered by it’s new “Ecoboost” 3.5-liter twin turbo V-6 lump’.


The new Ford GT made it's IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Debut at the 2016 Rolex 24 where it's pair of CGR entries finished seventh and ninth in the GTE Le Mans class.


then beginning with that year's round 4 at Monterey's Laguna Seca Raceway, Former IndyCar Driver Ryan Briscoe and "Westie," aka Richard Westbrook gave the Ford GT it's Maiden Win aboard the No. 67. As the pair would go on to notch a Hat trick 'O Victories that season, i.e.; Laguna Seca, Watkins Glen and Mosport respectively.


Yet obviously the win that garnered the most Attenzione that year was the Fairy-book Class Victory at Le Mans in the World Endurance Championship's (WEC) LMGTE Pro Class on the 50th Anniversary of Ford's Debutante Overall Victory at Circuit de la Sarthe!


As Ford and Ganassi had come loaded for Bear’ with four Ford GT’s. With the #68 with Joey Hand, Dirk Mueller and Le Mans native le Hamburgular', nee Sealmeister B', aka Sebastien Bourdais scoring a very popular Class W' for the Ford GT's first outing at Le Mans since the Robertson's triumph, finishing 18th Overall.


With the Seester’ IMSA #69 with Briscoe, Westbrook and Scotty thee “Iceman 2.0” Dixon on it’s driver’s roll finishing two places behind, and claiming third in the LMGTE Pro Class. Giving Ford two teams upon the Class’s podium!


And directly behind them was the Ford UK #66 entry, (21st Overall) with the other WEC Ford (#67) GT finishing P40.


And Yeah, Y'all know it's Ah-comin', since why does All this Robertson Hyperboly, especially regarding Andrea, albeit the couple well Deserves It! But suddenly I've got 'Ol Simon & Garfunkle's Mrs. Robinson song stuck in my head. Even if Y’all say robinson and I say Robertson, Ka Choo-choo-Choo, Hya!


And thus with the euphoria of winning at Le Mans. I’d Arse-sume the Ford UK No. 67 entry winning the following WEC rounds at Fuji and Shanghai was simply overlooked…