In the wake of Ford’s
announcement on its future racing committments at Le Mans and in the WEC, WEC-Magazin.com takes a look back to the Blue Oval’s last factory participation at the greatest endurance race in the world. Long-time Le Mans spectator and photographer Marc Le Beller has kindly opened up his archive of images from the last Ford factory team to race at Le Mans, back in the 1960s.
All images (c)
Marc Le Beller. 1966
Crowds watch the action at Dunlop Bridge cars race down to the Forest Esses.
The #6 Holman & Moody Ford Mk II driven by Lucien Bianchi and Mario Andretti heads off on another stint.
The #5 Holman & Moody Ford Mk II of Ronnie Bucknum and Dick Hutscherson makes a pit stop. Bucknum and Hutscherson would go on to finish third.
The #2 Shelby Ford Mk II driven by New Zealand pairing Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon would go on to win the race. Here it passes the stricken #14 Scuderia Filipinetti Ford GT40 of Peter Sutcliffe and Dieter Spoerry.
The #14 Scuderia Filipinetti car in somewhat better shape earlier on in the race.
The #1 Ford Mk II of Ken Miles and Denny Hulme (finished 2nd) passes the wrecked #53 Société Automobiles CD SP66 – Peugeot of Georges Heligouin and Johnny Rives and the #20 SpA Ferrari SEFAC Ferrari 330 P3 (Parkes/Scarfotti).
The #44 Ecurie Savin-Calberson Alpine A210 of Jacques Cheinisse and Roger Delagneste (finished 11th) on the run through the Forest Esses.
Crowds on the start-finish straight.
Drivers rush for their cars as the tricolore falls for the start of the race. This would be the final year of the “traditional Le Mans start”, with drivers firmly strapped into their cars from the 1970 race.
The #7 John Wyre Engineering Ford GT40 of David Hobbs and Mike Hailwood (finished 3rd) accelerates down the start-finish straight early on in the race.
The #64 Porsche 908 Coupé of Hans Herrmann and Gérard Larrousse raced into an early lead (finished 2nd). The Porsches had a clear advantage on speed over the Fords, but unreliability meant that the German team could only finish second.
The #66 Jean Egreteaud Porsche 911 T/R (DNF) negotiates the Forest Esses.
The #68 Deutsche Auto Zeitung Ford GT40 driven by Reinhold Joest and Helmut Kelleners (finished 6th) on the start-finish straight.
The #1 Scuderia Filipinetti Chevrolet Corvette C3 of Henri Greder and Reine Wisell (DNF) early in the evening.
The Le Mans ambience hasn’t changed much in the past 60 years.
Spectators come and go in the night.
The #1 Corvette C3 at dawn. It would go on to retire with gear selection troubles.
The #6 Ford GT40 of Jacky Ickx and Jackie Oliver (finished 1st) at Indianapolis at dawn.
The #6 John Wyre Automotive Ford GT40 of Ickx/Oliver wins ahead of the #64 Porsche 908 in one of the closest finished ever seen at Le Mans.
The gendarmes keep the crowd at bay while the winning #6 car comes to rest.
WEC-Magazin.com would like to thank Marc Le Beller once again for giving us access to these wonderful images. Be sure to check out his
Flickr account for more classic motorsport photography.