Ford GT: How Ford Silenced the Critics, Humbled Ferrari and Conquered Le Mans

Ford GT: How Ford Silenced the Critics, Humbled Ferrari and Conquered Le Mans

Winner of the Motor Press Guild’s 2016 Dean Batchelor Award for Excellence in Automotive Journalism. With an updated chapter chronicling the development of the new Ford GT and its win at Le Mans in 2016.

In 1963, Enzo Ferrari let it be known that he might be willing to sell his firm. Ford Motor Company, looking to upgrade its image, sent emissaries to Italy to arrange a corporate marriage between the two automakers. But after laborious negotiations, Ferrari got cold feet, and Ford was left standing at the altar. Henry Ford II – the autocratic CEO known as the Deuce – took the rebuff as a personal insult. “If that’s the way he wants it, we’ll go out and whip his ass,” he growled. Thus began the biggest and most expensive assault on Le Mans the sport had ever seen.

Because support for program came from the top of the corporate totem pole, Ford lavished unprecedented resources on the groundbreaking Ford GT. Only the best would do – the best drivers, the best designers, the best engineers, the best team managers. The cast of characters included legends such as Carroll Shelby, Dan Gurney, Phil Remington, Ken Miles, John Wyer, A.J. Foyt, John Holman, Bruce McLaren, Eric Broadley and Phil Hill. Ford GTs finished 1-2-3 at Le Mans in 1966 and followed up that win with an even-more-dominant all-American victory the next year. Ford GT40s also won Le Mans in 1968 and 1969. By the time the Deuce retired from sports car racing, he had indeed whipped Ferrari’s ass. In so doing, Ford also established the template that’s been used ever since by just about every manufacturer that’s created a big-time factory racing program.

Ford GT: How Ford Silenced the Critics, Humbled Ferrari and Conquered Le Mans celebrates the 50th anniversary of Ford’s historic sweep of the podium in 1966. Author Preston Lerner details the program’s progress from ground zero to the pinnacle of the motorsports world. The book covers the personalities and the politics as well as the technical nuances of the bad-boy V-8-powered prototypes that changed the face of road racing. Meanwhile, Shelby American and Ford Motor Company photographer Dave Friedman’s iconic images bring the cars and the people who raced them to life.
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