Saturday, October 3, 2009

Ford GT Back in Racing

The original Ford GT40 was conceived as a form of revenge by Henry Ford II against Enzo Ferrari. After toying with Henry "The Deuce" Ford II about the acquisition of Ferrari in the mid-1960's, The Deuce couldn't have that so he had his engineers very quickly pull together the car that would be the GT40. "GT" for Gran Turismo (or great race/tour) and "40" as the car was only 40 inches tall. In winning spec and after a few rough "teething" years for Ford Advanced Vehicles, the GT40 was fitted with a 7.0L V8 and the hands of racing greats Bruce McLaren, Ken Miles, Denny Hulme and Chris Amon the GT40 began to win races and took a 1-2-3 win at the 1966 Le Mans. The Deuce was finally able to thumb his nose at Il Commendatore by showing him up at the race that Ferrari had so dominated Le Mans for so many years.

Decades passed before Ford would release the new GT - a road-going sports car to commemorate the race car that had won them so many victories during the golden era of racing. However, this car wasn't built as a sports car to be raced but more as a road-going sports car for enthusiasts to show that Ford can still build a sports car to compete with the likes of Ferrari. Unfortunately, the GT came out at the time to battle the Ferrari 360 as it began to end its life cycle and Maranello began to usher out the then-new F430.

However, one group decided to resurrect the racing spec Ford GT and take to the tracks. Doran Racing, who also compete in the Grand Am Rolex Series, decided to build 6 Ford GT racing spec cars to do battle in the GT2 class of the ALMS. To keep the GT competitive Doran replaced more or less every body panel with carbon fiber-made panels and in the process sealed many of the close gaps in standard body panels that can create unwanted drag. The Doran GT's also received a widebody kit as well as a massive rear wing for increased grip. In terms of the engine, Doran is hold a modified 5.0L naturally aspirated V8 compared to the standard 5.4L supercharged V8. However, much like the original GT40, this GT-R has had a difficult birth into motorsports.

While the construction of the car was, overall, easier than converting a typical road car to race spec, the GT-R has had less than easy path to winning results. But, that doesn't keep the GT-R from competition nor has it since its 2008 introduction to ALMS and being one of the most distinctive cars on the grid with it's very wide, low stance. Ironically though, the GT40 had a number of years where it was completely uncompetitive, barely, if at all, finishing races before Carroll Shelby and his crew stepped in to up the ante of the GT40 with a 7.0L V8 and revised suspension work. It was then that The Deuce was able to bloody the nose of Enzo Ferrari himself on the very same tracks on which he built his reputation. We're hoping to see the Doran GT-R carry the same successes of the GT40 of yesteryear as it progresses into its career Stateside.

1 comment:

  1. The article is interesting but marred by about a dozen structural and grammatical errors. How about cleaning it up and re-posting?

    Thanks for your contribution.