GT40 or not? Time to set the record straight.

There has been a growing use of the term GT40 to describe the seven litre cars, the MkII of 1965 to 1967 and the 1967 MkIV. None of these were known as GT40s at the time that they raced though, so here is the story.

The Ford GT of 1964 was built under a package title of GT40 that described a GT car that would be 40 inched high, but in racing terms it was always entered as a Ford GT through 1964 and 1965. In the latter year the seven litre car was introduced and the was initially known as the GT X, X for experimental. The 1965 Le Mans entry list has the two seven litre cars down as GT X models, although by the time of the race their official designation was Ford GT MkII. At the time the 4.7 litre model was going into production for customers to race or use as a road car. This was the Ford GT MkIII, or GT40.

In 1966 the 7 litre GT MkII had been revised and was described as a MkIIA, but the suffix was not much used and they were usually just called a MkII. These cars ran in the Group 6 prototype class of the championship and the production 4.7 litre cars ran in the Group 4 class as a GT40.

During 1966 Ford developed the J car, so called because it was built to meet the requirements of Appendix J of the regulations. A J Type ran at the Le Mans test weekend, but did not race. This was the type of Ford GT that Ken Miles was killed testing at Riverside later in the year and it had a completely different type of chassis to the other GT models.

For 1967 the J car had evolved into the GT MkIV and became the main focus of the Group 6 championship thrust, but the MkII was developed to meet changes in the regulations and was entered as a Ford GT MkIIB. In the Group 4 category the GT40 continued to race with either the 4.7 or 5 litre engine.

By 1968 the big bangers were outlawed from Group 6, but the GT40 was still eligible for Group 4 and ran competitively through the year as it did with less success in 1969, but the same GT40, chassis 1075, won Le Mans in both of those years.

It was much later that lazy journalism started to see the term GT40 being applied to the MkIIs. Yes they did have a modified version of the chassis that went into the GT40, but they were a different car. As for the MkIV it has nothing to do with the GT40 model.

So when you hear someone like Jeremy Clarkson tell you that the GT40 won Le Mans four years in a row he is wrong and so are any books or websites that refer to Mks II and IV as GT40s. The myth is constantly perpetuated on social media too, so those of us who know the truth must speak up!

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Oops! We found some stuff we had forgotten

Whilst having a bit of a clear out we’ve found a couple of lengthy draft posts that we were working on a good while ago and never got around to finishing.

One is on the Ford GT40 at Le Mans and the other is on the Hunt versus Morgan incident in F3 back in 1970. Both are almost done, but are at that stage where there is a bit of detailed research to be completed in order to make sure that we get them as correct as we can manage.

Both have been printed off and we are working on making up a list for each of the things that need to be verified, or taken out.

We will try and get that done in the coming weeks and get both posts published. Apologies if you saw the trailers for these and have been waiting for the outcome.

Roy Salvadori RIP

With a name like that he could only have been a racing driver really, but he was also a successful businessman and, most of all, a gentleman.

As a man of his word he stuck with Aston Martin’s dreadful F1 project instead of staying on with Cooper where he might have won a world championship; certainly he would have won a Grand Prix or two. Instead of rear engined results he followed the handshake agreement into wasted time and races with one of the last front engined F1 cars. Continue reading

The #F1 Silly Season drags on

So will Robert make a come back at Renault (sorry, Lotus)? Has the Barra Boy had his time at Williams? Who will be Forcing India?

It’s all getting a bit boring really and we wish that they would all make their minds up. Maybe Robert is the key to some of this and it will be a shame if all of that great potential is lost to F1 should he be unable to make a return. It could be that it is already too late, and that a year off will have dulled the edge.

That would also apply to the Ice Man of course, but he has long been an enigma. Could he make a difference in a Williams. or would a return to F1 in mid grid just bore him rigid? Would we notice if it did? All these questions’ let’s have some answers.

As for the name changes, well we are pleased that it has all gone through, but can’t really understand why there was all that fuss. Yes there can be complications over a name; we here are old enough to remember 1967 and Gulf’s Mirage win at Spa causing a bit of controversy because it didn’t count as a Ford win for manufacturer points even if it was just a modified GT40, but that is hardly relevant in modern F1. There are far more important issues for the constructors and ruling body to be considering; for a start the former mob could get on with sorting out their drivers for 2012.

where did all the Easter motor racing go?

When I was really getting into motorsport as a teenager the Easter break was a veritable treasure trove of racing here in the UK.

Take 1967 for example; Good Friday saw the F2 European championship circus at Snetterton and then they all trooped over to Silverstone and did it again on Easter Monday. Both events were also supported by the British Saloon Car and Sports Car Championships. In F2 Jochen Rindt beat Graham Hill in Norfolk and his own team mate Alan Rees at Silverstone, Jackie Oliver won both saloon car outings in Alan Brown’s Mustang and Paul Hawkins in his own GT40 beat Denny Hulme in Sid Taylor’s similar car on Friday with that result being reversed in Monday’s race.

All frantic activity, and there were club races up and down the country to choose from as well. We were spoiled for choice really, but now we don’t get any major racing over the holiday weekend at all. Shame really, but there you go. At least I have the memories of the Easter weekends that I was able to enjoy as a teenager.

If you’re interested to research some of the racing further, try these links:

British Sports Car Championship

1967 British Saloon Car Championship

coming soon; Hunt v Morgan and GT40s at Le Mans

No F1 or NASCAR Sprint Cup this weekend (apologies to the truck series), so just a preview of a couple of things that I am working on in my Setting the Record Straight series.

The first one will be on the notorious James Hunt and Dave Morgan incident on the 3rd October 1970. I’m prompted to this one because of Tom Rubython’s book on the former where, in amongst a whole series of things that should never have appeared in a serious book, he raised the last corner crash at Crystal Palace. I was there and saw the whole thing, so I’ve got something fairly well advanced that will talk about the 1970 F3 season in general and that race in particular.

Also in production is something on the record of the Ford GT40 at Le Mans. This one comes from the erroneous utterings of one Jeremy Clarkson who has claimed that the GT40 won the Sarthe classic 4 years running, when it plainly did not.

Both of these are taking a lot of research to make sure that what I write will be as factually accurate as I can make them; that’s what setting the record straight is all about.

Thanks to all of the people that have read my posts here over the months. I hope that I can keep you entertained. Both of the above articles should be posted here before the end of April. Feel free to challenge me on any racing incident that you would like to know more about.

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