1966 24 Hours of Le Mans: Bewildered Bruce
By: Jeremy McMullen
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By: Jeremy McMullen
| The look on Bruce McLaren's face as he climbed from his GT40 would be one of stark contrast to the rest of those with the Ford team. It was clear who the winner was, and yet, confusing as well. In the midst of one of the most demonstrative and authoritative victories in Le Mans history, McLaren and his co-driver Chris Amon would find themselves the beneficiaries of a saga that upset the team management at Ford as much as Ferrari's presence.
It was an all-out effort. Tremendous amounts of capital would be thrown into Ford's racing program. In 1963, a deal was on the table and all parties involved had come to an agreement. The production cars would be known as Ford-Ferraris while the racing side of Ferrari's efforts would be known as Ferrari-Fords. The price for this union would be 10 million dollars. All parties were about ready to sign when Enzo Ferrari suddenly stood made a comment to the leaders from Ford and immediately withdrew from the meeting. The Ford executives would be left stunned and would return home without a premier luxury and exotic car company having been signed. Ford would be furious.
Ferrari would rethink the deal and would even try to begin the negotiations anew. To this, Ferrari would receive his answer. Ford would only be interested in beating Ferrari on the racetrack from now on. Both sides prepared for war, spectators and Le Mans enthusiasts prepared for one of the best eras in endurance sportscar racing history.
Rivalries had been a part of Le Mans since the very beginning. Even after World War II, the famed race would see its share of battle between manufacturers. Had it not been for the tragic events of the 1955 Le Mans all indications were that it would have been a Le Mans worth remembering. Of course, the battle between Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz would end up taking a rightful back seat to the numerous deaths as a result of Pierre Levegh's crash into the grandstands.
'Le Mans 24 Hours 1966', (http://www.racingsportscars.com/photo/Le_Mans-1966-06-19.html?sort=Results). Racing Sports Cars. http://www.racingsportscars.com/photo/Le_Mans-1966-06-19.html?sort=Results. Retrieved 28 August 2012.
'Ford Celebrates 1966 Le Mans Victory at 2006 Le Mans Classic', (http://www.autoblog.com/2006/07/05/ford-celebrates-1966-le-mans-victory-at-2006-le-mans-classic/). AutoBlog. http://www.autoblog.com/2006/07/05/ford-celebrates-1966-le-mans-victory-at-2006-le-mans-classic/. Retrieved 28 August 2012.
Hamilton, Maurice. 'The Way it Was', (http://www.grandprix.com/columns/maurice-hamilton/the-way-it-was.html). GrandPrix.com. http://www.grandprix.com/columns/maurice-hamilton/the-way-it-was.html. Retrieved 28 August 2012.
Fox, Charles. The Great Racing Cars and Drivers. New York. The Ridge Press. Copyright 1972. Print.
Wikipedia contributors, '1966 24 Hours of Le Mans', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 25 July 2012, 20:04 UTC, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=1966_24_Hours_of_Le_Mans&oldid=504161385 accessed 28 August 2012
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