Honestly, I was worried… This is the Ford GTs rookie season on the racetracks, and in early season race starts the GT often didn’t finish. And was it even fast enough to win? Heck, at early LeMans qualifying the ‘Vettes and 911s were almost as fast. Not to mention Ford’s old endurance racing nemesis Ferrari and ex-Ford brand Aston Martin too. This had the makings of another Dearborn debacle, with a massive PR exercise ruined by DNFs and shamefully slow times by any Ford GTs left. I had nightmares of distraught Ford execs leaping to their deaths from Ford’s skyscraper “glass house” HQ…

The rest of the world’s answer to NASCAR and the SCCA all wrapped up into one sanctioning agency, the French HQd FIA, wasn’t doing Ford any favors either. Just like in NASCAR, build a faster mousetrap and the FIA will reward you with restrictor plates, unwanted ballast, and maybe trim your wings too. So when the ‘Vettes showed they’re speed in qualifying, the FIA slowed them down more than a bit. I’d been hoping all along that Ford had been sandbagging, and sure enough on the last day of qualifying the Ford GTs ripped off some fast laps that darn near put the rest of the class on the trailer. Suggesting that maybe the FIA throttled GM’s ‘Vettes first so it wouldn’t look like they were singling out Ford the next day, the FIA responded to Ford’s even faster laps calling their bluff with similar throttling, while handing the Ferrari’s a token few kilos of ballast. This instantly made the Ferrari’s competitive, and probably raised the blood pressures to levels not seen since the 60s in the “glass house”… The FIA used similar nationalistic twisting of it’s “rules” to deny the Brits Monte Carlo rally wins in the 60s, and Ford might well have outright won several 60s rallies if not for the FIA’s “handicapping” the overall results to the benefit of the smaller engined Euro brands.

So Ford brought 4 GTs to the start of the Le Mans 24 hour race, competing with a horde of pro and amateur Ferraris, Porsches, ‘Vettes, etc.. After the throttling the GM sponsored pro ‘Vettes couldn’t quite match the Ford GTs for speed, and the only thing in their class was a couple pro Ferraris. One of the two ‘Vettes was out thanks to a crash, the Porsches were too slow and unreliable too, and only one Ferrari fast enough to stay on the same lap as the Ford GTs survived. With around a third of the GT pro class dropping out due to crashes or mechanical breakdowns, 4 Ford GTs started the race and the same 4 Ford GTs were still flying along after 24 hours of racing. Meanwhile, in the “funny car” prototype class, Toyota humbled the Audis  but had to settle for 2nd place when their leading car died on the last lap and let the 2nd place Porsche past.

So in it’s rookie year, the new Ford GT sandwiched a lone Ferrari winning 1st, 3rd, and 4th places with the fourth Ford GT a few laps back. Like a fleet of Super Duties hell bent on hauling, the Ford GTs just kept on going while near everything else capable of staying within sight for a lap or so died, crashed, or literally burned. And Ford made it look easy- Watching the in car live race video Ford provided there was so little drama that it was hard to realize that the Ford GTs were besting over 200 MPH down the long Le Mans straightaway and then flying through the turns at well past one G velocities.

So Ford, you pleasantly surprised me and dominated the race, despite the FIA’s best Euro-centric efforts. PR mission accomplished, but let’s not give up now… Build this victory into a dynasty of Ford GT wins, just like in the ’60s! And while I don’t expect my application to buy a Ford GT to be successful (still trying to figure out how I’d pay for it), could I at least have a test drive? Pleeeeeeze?

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