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

by • November 19, 2015 • ReviewComments (0)4010

2016 marks the 50th anniversary of Ford’s dismantling of Ferrari with an iconic 1-2-3 Le Mans sweep, a moment that helped cement the legacy of men like Henry Ford II and Carroll Shelby, and put Ford on the map as a brand capable of delivering in the ever-evolving and expanding racing world. Next year’s celebration will be highlighted by return of the Ford GT to endurance racing and, most importantly, the Circuit de la Sarthe, where it will try to recapture that same magic that placed the Blue Oval squarely on top of the world half a century ago. Today you can read about all of this in the new book from Preston Lerner and Dave Friedman.

It all started when Henry Ford II, “the Deuce,” wanted a race car capable of winning top-flight sports car events in Europe. Specifically, he wanted to win Le Mans. Ford learned that Enzo Ferrari would consider selling his company and negotiations quickly ensued. But after Ford spent considerable time and money reviewing Ferrari’s operations and negotiating with Enzo, Ferrari abruptly backed out of the talks.

The Deuce took Ferrari’s actions as a personal insult. Word was sent down from on high: beat Ferrari. Ford settled on UK-based Eric Broadley’s Lola GT, a cutting-edge car that featured a mid-engine chassis and small-block Ford V-8 power. The Lola GT would morph into the Ford GT. Carroll Shelby helped shape it into the “Mark II” GT40. The result was one of the most legendary wins in racing history: Ford’s 1-2-3 sweep of Le Mans in 1966.

Ford GT celebrates the 50th anniversary of Ford‘s iconic victory, providing the detailed back story leading to that historic win, as well as the follow-up win in 1967. The GT40’s last two competitive seasons in 1968 and 1969 are also covered, for a complete view of this remarkable era in racing. Author Preston Lerner details the ups and downs of Ford’s GT program, accompanied by Shelby American photographer Dave Friedman’s historic images.

Preston Lerner, a regular contributor to Automobile magazine, has written about motorsports for publications ranging from Sports Illustrated to the New York Times. Lerner has co-authored Motorbooks titles Winning: The Racing Life of Paul Newman and History’s Greatest Automotive Mysteries, Myths, and Rumors Revealed with Matt Stone.

Dave Friedman was Shelby American’s official photographer in the 1960s, accompanying the team to races all around the world. He is a longtime motorsports and film-still photographer and the author of several motor racing books, as well as a photography contributor to dozens more.

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