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We all know the story of the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans, Ford beats Ferrari, Enzo Ferrari vs. Henry Ford the II, the GT40 up against the stunning Ferrari 330 P3.

It’s an iconic story that will always be told throughout automotive and motorsport history. But what if I told you the 1967 24 Hours of Le Mans was even more interesting than the one before. Now stay with me here, the year Ford won the 24 Hours of Le Mans overall in 1966 and annihilated Ferrari with the GT40 is a year to remember, However, after that awe-inspiring race, most people recall that Ford won it another 3 consecutive times, but they don’t know how the American automaker did it.

When a specific car and race car has a certain significance and prestige to it, you can’t resist the urge to learn more about it. Ford vs. Ferrari at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans is one of, if not the most celebrated rivalry and story in motorsport history, and it’s a story you wouldn’t want to stop learning about. That story all started with the developed idea that is the Ford GT40, a revolutionary race car ahead of its years that even made Enzo Ferrari himself scared. Although, 1967 was a different type of story. Both Ford and Ferrari came into the 1967 World Sportscar season well-informed and prepared to snatch victory at the most important race of the season, Le Mans. After Ford won the year before, they already knew they were going to do it again, the American manufacture came into the season with confidence. On the other hand, Scuderia Ferrari was bloodthirsty and looking for revenge, the team that once dominated at the French endurance race couldn’t hold in its anger any longer.

After losing Ken Miles shorty after the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans while testing the J evolution of the GT40, Ford and Carroll Shelby recognized that they lost a massive part of their team, and all hopes were being put on Shelby to bring them to another victorious season… all eyes were on Ford. Ford entered Daytona on top of the world and left crushed into pieces. Little did they know they weren’t the only ones who brought upgrades, the prancing horses advanced the P3 into the ever-so-beautiful 330 P4, the P4’s didn’t give the American team a chance, they took a 1-3 lockout on Ford’s own turf. The picture of the three Ferrari’s side by side at Daytona hung proudly in Enzo’s office. Ford knew to step it up and beat the passionate Ferrari’s they had to bring out something that was never seen before.

Ford brought out the GT40 Mark 4… a massive step compared to the original and to the Mark 2. I mean, just look at it, it looks like a 70s prototype race car just that stepped out into the 1960s. From 1966 to 67, it felt like two different eras and decades if you compared the GT40 MK2 and the GT40 Mk 4, they seemed like two completely different cars. Ford brought new ideas and concepts to the table for the Mk 4, thanks to its evolved aerodynamics it had a more rounded out, and soft look to it, that not only looks good but performs even better. The MK4 was crafted by hand and paper to be a high-performance endurance race car, one that would sustain the strains of the hard endurance race while also ripping through De la Sarthe at 200mph effortlessly. Its 7.0 Liter naturally aspirated V8 was meant to win, and the power it produces is not too shabby either, just standing shy of 508 horsepower. And 508bhp combined with a chassis made of honeycombed aluminum was a monster waiting to be unleashed on the Mulsanne.

Speaking of the Mulsanne straight, the Ford GT40 Mk4 would achieve speeds over 200 miles per hour on the 6 km (3.7 mi) long straight of Circuit De la Sarthe, proving its speed and proving that it deserved to be there. The Ferrari 330 P4 might look like a dream, but it was the GT40 that achieved the dream. It isn’t a beauty competition but those curvaceous and flowing soft lines on the GT40 could have only been sculpted by the wind passing over it, and that was exactly it, its subtle yet eye-catching shape was created from endless testing in wind tunnels. And those exact wind tunnels and designers behind this car created a masterpiece that is engraved in motorsport and Le Man’s history to this day. With four genius cars in the hands of Ford, they also needed four genius drivers behind the wheel.

Carroll Shelby’s good friend and companion, Dan Gurney, was up for the task. Two of the streamlined Ford’s were given to the Shelby team, and they already had their star driver lined up for the race. Still, they needed one more driver. Gurney fought hard to have fellow American racer, A.J Foyt, by his side in the team, Foyt never raced at Le Mans, but trust me he got on well. To return the favor to Gurney, Foyt let the New Yorker refine and clarify the setup of the GT40 all throughout practice. While Chris Amon and Lorenzo Bandini led practice, it was Bruce Mclaren who took pole position for Ford, the Ford’s had a massive straight-line speed advantage over the Ferrari’s but were obstructed with instability during high-speed corners. This gave Gurney and Foyt a challenge, but the American duo was still unstoppable.

Lights off and away the drivers went running to their cars. Drama came early on in the endurance race as Mike Salmons GT40 burst into flames, thankfully the British racing driver was able to pull the car over and escape, but he did this while escaping with severe burns. A couple of laps after, drama struck again as Chris Amons Ferrari suffered a rear right puncture that burst into flames, something he could not fix. With Amon’s leading Ferrari out of the race, this gave the Fords the upper hand. Ford was leading Le Mans with a 1 2 3 at 3:00 A.M until the leading Mario Andretti had a massive crash due to incorrectly installed brake pads, Andretti hit the barrier hard on both sides, breaking his ribs. Two other Ford GT40’s also crash trying to escape the wreckage in the dark.

Rising above the drama and danger, Gurney and Foyt extended their lead and shut the door on Ferrari, the Italian manufacture knew the pace couldn’t last for long, but with Dan Gurney using his lift and coast technique the Ford had better fuel efficiency, pulling away and leaving the 330 P4’s in the dust. Not only was Dan immensely quick and talented, but he had the mind of an engineer, the Fords brake problems were long and gone because of the way Gurney nursed them throughout the entire 24-hour race. It all came down to the fight between Ferrari’s Parks and Gurney, Parks would flash his bright headlights at Gurney during one part of the race, Dan pulled over on the grass and just stood there, both of the drivers waiting to see who would go first. After a few seconds, Gurney pushed off and continued the race, there is no way Parks would have ever won the fight of mind games against the genius that was Dan Gurney.

After blood, sweat, tears, and difficulties, Dan Gurney and A.J Foyt crossed the finish line first, 4 laps ahead of the tired Ferrari’s. And from that moment on, history was made. Ford won Le Mans for the second time in a row and would win it another consecutive two times. Gurney and Foyt shook all the hands they needed to, took off their racing suits, and headed for the packed podium that awaited them patiently. Henry Ford II, Carroll Shelby, their wives, journalists, photographers, and whoever else was around the photo capturing moment were caught in the ground-breaking event.

The New Yorker had a spontaneous feeling to shake the bottle of cold champagne and create an exciting and unforgettable environment and celebration for Ford’s second overall win. Gurney didn’t even think twice, he just felt that it was right to shake the bottle, spray his fellow driver and team. Little did the Le Mans winner know, he had become the first-ever driver to spray champagne on the podium. That race marked many records, including the start of one tradition that will hopefully never be broken. I think a second Ford V. Ferrari should be in the works after hearing this story…

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