Karl on Cars

Let's Talk Cars, Motorcycles and Other Life-Changing Events

Tag: Le Mans

Ford GT Heritage Editions: Paying Homage to Ford’s Le Mans-Winning Past

2017 Ford GT Heritage Edition

The 2017 Ford GT Heritage Edition was available in gloss or matte black.

If you’re a new Ford GT fan you already know the company has been making a “heritage” edition of the Ford GT every year since it was introduced. The first year new Ford GT Heritage model paid homage to Bruce McLaren’s GT40 win at Le Man in 1966. I reported on the debut of this black-and-silver new Ford GT 2 years ago during Monterey Car Week.

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New Ford GT Races at Le Mans, and Wins!

Ford GT 2016 Le Mans Front Strait

The Ford GT returned to Le Mans 50 years after its first victory

Fifty years after winning Le Mans in a 1-2-3 sweep, Ford Motor Company returned to the most famous race in the world. This 24-hour test of man and machine, with a 90-plus-year history, remains the pinnacle of endurance racing. Winning the 24 hours of Le Mans is a claim every automaker wants to make — but only 14 can. Winning Le Mans four or more times, which Ford did from 1966 to 1969, has only been accomplished by 6 automakers. So when Ford returned to Le Mans with the new Ford GT in 2016, it was a big deal.

Ford GT 2016 Le Mans Pit Lane

A tour of the Le Mans pit area was one of many perks of this trip

I was fortunate enough to attend the race for the first time that year. It had been on my bucket list forever, and I figured this was the year to make it happen. Happily, the Ford GT Forum felt the same way and arranged a group travel package for owners. By working directly with the automaker the Ford GT Forum was able to secure space in Ford’s VIP suite, which overlooks the front straight at Le Mans.

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The Ford GT40 Stars In Its Own Show (and I co-star…sort of)

In June of 2004 I went to a small studio in West Los Angeles to be interviewed for a series called “Behind the Headlights.” This series of documentary programs, written by noted automotive journalist and historian Ken Gross, focused each episode on one highly significant automobile from history. Examples included James Dean’s Porsche 550 Spyder, the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR from the 1955 Le Mans crash, and the 1961 Lincoln Continental, also known as the X-100, that carried JFK on that fateful day in Dallas.

The Behind the Headlights episode I contributed to focused on the 1967 Ford GT40 Mark IV that won Le Mans in 1967. While that specific GT40 was the star of the show, the 45-minute documentary discussed the entire Ford GT40 race program, from the attempt to buy Ferrari in 1963, through the 1969 Le Mans win and even the 2005-2006 Ford GT revival. I’m probably biased, but I consider it the most effective and entertaining telling of the Ford GT40 story (and I’ve seen them all).

Karl Brauer on Behind the Headlights

I played a tiny role in a highly-entertaining Ford GT40 show

Being a part of this show, shortly after learning I’d be getting a new 2005 Ford GT but about a year before I took possession, was incredibly rewarding. Not only was I thrilled to discuss the original Ford GT40, I also felt honored (and a bit out of place) to be among the legendary individuals that appeared in this episode of Behind the Headlights. I’m convinced when people watch this episode they ask the same question Bill Ford Jr. asked when looking at the list of 2005 Ford GT applicants: “Who is Karl Brauer?”

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