Home Racing the Ford GT 40 GT 40 Racing 1967-68-69

GT 40 Racing 1967-68-69

Racing with Shelby AmericanKen Miles
1964 The Beginning Part 1MkII – 1966 the 427 Part 3
1965 Shelby Takes Over Part 2 1967-68-69 Part 4

Ken Miles’ death slowed the Mk IV project until the Mk IIs started having transaxles problems at the ’67 Daytona race. Once again Shelby’s team was called in the get the Mk IVs ready for LeMans. In less than a month, Shelby’s team had the Mk IV running faster the Mk IIs. One MK IV was entered at Sebring and it came in first. By LeMans, seven Mk IVs were ready. Shelby was given 2 Mk IVs & 1 Mk IIHolman & Moody had the remaining 2 Mk IVs and 2 Mk IIs. First & 4th place went to Shelby’s GT40’s.

Ford had taken the ’67 LeMans, winning the race two years in a row. The other GT40’s didn’t finish. Only one was due to mechanical problems, the others were all out due to accidents. Dan Gurney and AJ Foyt drove Shelby’s winning GT40 at an average speed of 135.48 MPH for the 24 hours covering 3,249.6 miles, breaking the old record by the greatest margin ever! That record wasn’t broken until 1971. After the race, the 427 was dynoed at 499 HP, four more than it had at the beginning of the race.

After the `67 LeMans race the International racing rules committee banned engines larger than 5 litres. The LeMans officials had even tried to stop the GT40’s during the race when it was obvious no other car could keep up with the Fords. Ford had proven its point, and withdrew from active racing after that. Ford won the ’67 World Sports Car Championship, for the second year. Shelby also quit international racing.

That wasn’t the end to the story of the GT40’s. John Wyer, supplier of the original GT40 bodies, fielded a team of 289 powered Mk I’s backed by Gulf Oil, called Mirages. Wyer’s team won all but one of the International Championship races in `68, winning the World Manufacturers Championship. The Europeans were beside themselves. Ford’s GT40 dominated racing in ’68 with a body that was designed 4 years before!

The next year, in ’69, Ferrari and Porsche had new 12 cylinder engines with the same capacity of the V-8 289s and new state of the art bodies. A Wyer GT40 won the 12 hours of Sebring. At LeMans a total of 20 Porsches & Ferraris were entered against two GT40’s and Wyer’s’ one Gulf-Ford GT40. Wyer’s’ Mk I, chassis number 1075, won giving Ford four straight years of victory at LeMans. That was also the same car that had won the ’68 LeMans, something that has not been done since. The Ford GT40’s were still the best racing cars in the world.

LeMans, France, 1967. The race winning Ford MKIV in the pits.