Forty-five years after it won the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the A.J. Foyt/Dan Gurney Ford GT MK IV has left its cozy home at the Henry Ford and embarked on a European tour. Here’s more.
The red MK IV with the flowing white stripes is arguably the USA’s most important race car. To this day, it remains the only all-American entry (chassis, engine, team, and drivers) to win the Le Mans classic. Additionally, it was the first overall victor to also win the Index of Thermal Efffciency — an incredible feat given the big, slow-revving 427 CID V8 that powered the car, an approach that came to be known as the “lazy liters” strategy.
The victory was also magical because at that moment, Foyt and Gurney were America’s two greatest race drivers, already living legends. Just 11 days before the LeMans victory, Foyt had won his third Indianapolis 500 in his home-built Coyote-Ford. And only one week after the historic triumph at LeMans, Gurney would win the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa with his own Gurney-Weslake Eagle V12. It was a golden age of global motorsports, and America stood at the pinnacle.
Upon leaving Dearborn, first stop for the priceless racer will be the Goodwood Festival of Speed on June 28 – July 1, 2012. The rest of the car’s itinerary has not been announced, but it is scheduled to return to its permanent home at the Henry Ford Museum in September.
The video below, a brief backgrounder on the car produced by the museum, features three of MCG’s favorite people: Christian Overland, executive vice-president of the Henry Ford; Bob Casey, curator of transportation; and Ford engine guy supreme Mose Nowland. Mose has been instrumental in countless Ford race engine programs, from NASCAR to the LeMans effort to the DOHC Indy engine. He was key in developing Ford’s most recent NASCAR and NHRA Pro Stock engines, retiring in April this year with 57 years of service. Enjoy the video.