Posts Tagged ‘Ford GT40 Mk2’

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Evocative Jesse Alexander pre-start shot of the Mario Andretti/Lucien Bianchi Ford GT Mk2 and a young Ford fan…

The American, Italian/Belgian combo survived 97 laps before retiring with head gasket failure of their 6982cc pushrod V8.

Andretti was the ‘young gun’. He won the USAC Championship in 1965 and had plenty of wins too in 1966, but had limited sportscar experience, Le Mans, was his first GT40 race! Bianchi was the opposite, vastly experienced in such cars with three straight Tour de France victories from 1957-9 and a Sebring 12 Hour win with Jo Bonnier in 1962 to his credit.

The pair started 12th and steadily worked their way up the field, but luck was not on their side, retiring in the eighth hour.

They hit it off though, Holman & Moody paired them together again in a MkIV in 1967.

Le Mans 1966 Ford prep

Pre race preparation, Hawkins/Donohue Ford Mk2 in the foreground, the #6 Andretti/Bianchi car clear…a military operation! (Dave Friedman)

The GTs’ famously failed to win in the previous two years but Ford made no mistakes in 1966, no less than thirteen of the powerful cars, both GT40’s and Mark 2’s started with Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon victorious in a Shelby American entered Mk2.

They ‘beat’ Ken Miles and Denny Hulme in the ‘infamous form finish’ in another Shelby Mk2.

LeMans 1966 grid forming

(Ford Motorsports Archive)

Gridding up pre start, above.

#2 is the victorious McLaren/Amon Mk2, #3 Gurney/Grant Mk2 (DNF), #4 Hawkins/Donohue Mk2 (DNF), and the rest. Captures the moment doesn’t it?

Le mans '66 start

(unattributed)

Le Mans ’66 start, look at that crowd.

#3 Dan Gurney, #4 Paul Hawkins, from grid slot 11!- what a blinder from the race start from the Aussie, #1 Ken Miles, the yellow car alongside is John Whitmore, #2 Bruce McLaren in the winning car- all Ford Mk2, you can just see the tail of the Bucknum Mk2, from 9th on the grid! and the rest.

Hill Le Mans 1966

(Automobile Year 14)

Every man and his dog have used this photograph in online and more traditional media down the decades! I first saw it in Automobile Year- I should check to see who the photographer is- such a marvellous action shot.

Graham Hill squirts his Alan Mann Racing Ford Mk2 off the line leaving the NART Pedro Rodriguez/Richie Ginther Ferrari P2/3 ‘Spyder’ on the line…’slippery diff functioning well.

In a race of incredible attrition amongst the front-runners only three of the thirteen Ford GT’s which started finished and only two Ferrari GT’s of 14 which set off at 4pm were running 24 hours later. The Hill/Brian Muir Mk2 retired on lap 110 with front suspension damage and the Ginther/Rodriguez car on lap 151 with gearbox failure.

Hub repair

(Ford Motorsport)

A Shelby-American mechanic checks a new disc before fitment to the Gurney/Grant Mk2 hub assembly.

The beautiful standard of fabrication and workmanship of the front upright and suspension assembly clear in this shot. Front suspension comprises double wishbones, coil spring/damper units and adjustable sway bar. Steering arm also in shot, knock off nut etc.

66 Le Mans form finish...

(unattributed)

Almost to the finish…the Shelby American cars of McLaren on the left, Miles on the right, at about this point Miles backs off allowing McLaren/Amon to take the win.

The absolute detail of the finish has several versions but the sequence as follows seems to be generally accepted.

At the race halfway mark four GT Mk2’s comprised the lead group. By 9 am only three Mk2’s were left of the ? which started- all the GT40’s had retired. Ford Director of Racing Leo Beebe was not happy as Ken Miles and Dan Gurney had been dicing for the lead- against team orders- the Gurney/Grant car was the last of the Mk2’s to retire just before 9 with head-gasket failure.

1966 formation finish

(unattributed)

It was at this point that Beebe decided upon a ‘dead heat’ between his two lead cars. This, it was thought,  would stop the competition between the remaining cars and emphasise the win as one for the car rather than the driver.

The organising club, the ACO told him that a dead-heat would not be possible as the McLaren/Amon car, which started from grid slot 2, would have covered a greater distance than the Miles/Hulme car which started from pole- a difference according to the club of 8 and 20 metres depending upon the account.

But, assuming the cars were still running at 4 pm, Beebe decided to push ahead with his plan and instructed Miles to ease his pace at the last pit stop- the Miles/Hulme car led at that point, to allow McLaren to catch up.

Just before 4 pm it started to drizzle again.  Ken Miles whilst pissed off, wants no part of it of the contrived finish, so eases gently before the flag in the photo above, or Bruce surged, depending upon the account, allowing Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon /McLaren to take the win.

Miles was dead in a Ford J car testing accident at Riverside, California within two months. The great British American the lead development driver of the GT40 program was in the view of many the more deserving of the drivers to win the race- but there are many layers to this race finish. Beebe’s successful attempt to get his cars to the finish and over the line first is understandable, to say the least, given the failures of the GT40 and Mark2’s at Le Mans in 1964 and 1965.

In terms of ‘deserving drivers’ lets not forget Bruce did a huge amount of the initial GT40 testing for JW Automotive way back in 1964 and subsequently, not to forget that he raced the cars at Le Mans in 1964, (GT40 with Phil Hill DNF gearbox on lap 192) 1965, (Mk2 with Miles DNF gearbox on lap 45) 1966 and 1967 (MK4 4th with Donohue).

Photo Credits…

Jesse Alexander, Ford Motorsport Archive, Automobile Year

Tailpieces…

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Andretti and friends before the off (Jesse Alexander)

 

Ford Mk2 rear suspension

Mk2 business end, Daytona 1967. Note 2 roll bars to counteract the forces on the bankings (Automobile Year)

Finito…

 

 

 

 

 

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A Shelby American mechanic fettles the Bruce McLaren/Ken Miles Ford GT40 Mk2 ‘106’ prior to the Le Mans 24 Hours commencement on 20 June 1965…

I always thought the 4.7/5 litre GT40 variants masterpieces of Eric Broadley packaging if a bit beefy given the steel rather than aluminium monocoque mandated by Ford. But the 7 litre Mk2 and Mk4 are altogether less subtle expressions of the genre! Successful ones at that.

You can’t see ‘Henrys’ cast iron blocked, ally headed 427cid pushrod OHV V8 under all the plumbing. The dry sumped 90 degree, 107.2mm X 96.1mm lump was fed by a single, big Holley 4-barrel 780CFM carb developing circa 485bhp@6200rpm and 475lb.ft of torque@3200-3600rpm, plenty for a car weighing 1200Kg. The ‘cross-over’ exhaust sytem is a masterpice of the pipe-benders art. Mufflers interesting and unusual on a racer, maybe to save the drivers ears a tad? You can just see the gulping, big mouth of the monster Holley in front of the exhausts.

To the right near the roof is the water radiator neck, filler and temp sender, to the right are the gold colored fuel pumps, the fuel tank was 159 litres.

You can see the Ford T44 4-speed ‘box, in fact ’twas the failure of this ‘tranny’ which caused chassis #’106′ retirement on lap 45 of the classic. Plenty of lovely ‘Aeroquip’ aircraft braided fittings, well in advance of their adoption in F1, for brake lines and various oil feeds around the transaxle, note the transmission oil-radiator under the mech’s elbow.

See the big, rear grey stove enamelled chassis diaphragm below the exhaust and above the ‘box to support the engine/gearbox and location of the rear suspension, the top of the spring/shock’s clear. There, too, is the brake cooling duct which takes air collected from the body. Big cast magnesium upright, beefy driveshafts and top suspension link and forward facing radius rod and brake calipers for the outboard mounted, ventilated discs also in shot.

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The quick-lift jack and ‘captive frame’ on the car is typical of Shelby’s thoughfulness and endurance racing knowledge…Mind you they had a shocker of a race!

Five cars were entered, two Mark 2’s and three Daytona Cobra Coupes and all failed to finish; the Amon/P Hill Mk2 on lap 89-clutch. The Johnson/Payne Daytona ‘2287’ on lap 158-head gasket, Gurney/Jerry Grant Daytona ‘2286’ on lap 204-engine and Daytona ‘2601’ Schlesser/Allen Grant on lap 111-clutch.

The race was a disaster for Ford, their best placed car the AC Cars Ltd entered Daytona Cobra Coupe driven by Sears/Thomson was 8th, the race won, famously by the Ferrari 250LM of Masten Gregory and Jochen Rindt, the latter flogging the thing to within an inch of its life!

It was Ferrari’s last Le Mans win and the first of four on the trot for Ford from 1966-69; wins for the Mk2 and 4 in 1966 and 1967 and 1968/9 for the Mk1 5 litre GT40…

Finally, Shelby American made amends in 1966, taking the first two places in the infamous ‘Ford Form Finish’ ahead of arch rivals, the Holman Moody prepared Ford Mk2’s…

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Le Mans ’65 start. The Amon/Hill GT40 Mk2 on pole, then Surtees/Scarfiotti Ferrari 330P2 , Bondurant/Bucknum GT40 in 3 and McLaren/Miles GT40 Mk2 in grid 4 (unattributed)

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McLaren/Miles Ford GT40 Mk2 early in the race, Le Mans 1965 (unattributed)

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Carroll Shelby beside the Amon/P Hill GT40 Mk2 ‘106’ Le Mans 1965 (unattributed)

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Shelby American Le Mans garage; Daytona Cobra Coupes; #12 Schlesser/J Grant #10 Johnson/Payne #9 Gurney/A Grant. All DNF (unattributed)

Credits…

Rainer Schlegelmilch, teamdan.com

Tailpiece: Filipinetti’s GT40 Mk2, prepped by Shelby American on the way to Europe at LAX, it too failed to finish driven by Ronnie Bucknum and Herbie Muller…

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