No, we don’t usually get into the whole realm of supercars in this feature, as how many of us really have that kind of money? But look at this thing. Ford’s new GT is definitely worth dreaming about… and perhaps cashing out the old 401k a bit early for (I never did say I was a qualified financial advisor). With its pin-up worthy low slung looks a definite homage to the original Ferrari-slaying GT40 prototypes of the 1960s, this is a car that is at once aware of its illustrious heritage and determined to surpass it. Specifically built and marketed for a triumphant return to LeMans in 2016 on the 50th anniversary of the GT40s remarkable 1-2-3 overall finish in 1966, the new iteration will compete in the GTE Pro class of production cars against Corvette Stingrays, Ferrari 458s, Porsche 911s, Audi R8s, and Astin Martin Vantages. Which is maybe a bit unfair since not even those elite rides come close to the estimated 2017 GT’s $400,000 true-supercar price tag. Nonetheless, the Ford Motor Company is shrewdly betting on the historic resonance of their return to Le Mans to motivate a new generation of gearheads to worship at the altar of the Blue Oval. And if they’re not able to afford the GT perhaps they’ll at least pony up for a new Mustang.
With help in racing development from major league motorsport player Chip Gannasi Racing and their all-star lineup of drivers, including the venerable king of sports cars Scott Pruett and the excellent former DTM driver Joey Hand among other potential all-star cameos, preparation will include a twin-track effort in 2016 Tudor Series events in the States and World Endurance Championship races in Europe. Clearly, Ford is aiming to be competitive by the time they roll off the truck for their LeMans debut in mid-June of next year. That may be overly ambitious, as very few Le Mans programs are successful in their first year, and that includes Ford’s rocky early efforts to take it to Ferrari in 1964-5 before breaking through to dominance in ’66. In motorsport, as in all sports and life in general, you’ve very often got to fail before you succeed. But with a pedal-to-the-metal effort fully supported by the factory in Dearborn, the new GT should still get towards the sharp end of the field rather quickly.
As always in endurance racing, the cars’ durability will be key. With an all-carbon fiber monocoque and aluminum front and rear subframes it should be interesting to see how this new GT survives under variable loads at a big, hybrid road-oval course like the 24 Hours of Daytona. Continue reading →
For those who enjoy multi-class sports car racing, the Tudor United SportsCar Championship offers up another American classic later this morning: The 12 Hours of Sebring. Beginning at 11am from the famed old airport track in western Florida, this bumpy 3.74 mile circuit is often said to be harder on man and machine than the 24 Hours of Le Mans. You can catch all the action, which is often spectacular and quite dangerous despite the flat course, live on a variety of Fox Sports platforms and IMSA.com’s live stream, as below:
10:30 AM – 12:30 PM ET (LIVE)
FOX Sports 1
12:30 PM – 07:00 PM ET (Live)
FOX Sports 2
07:00 PM – 10:00 PM ET (Live)
10:00 PM – 11:00 PM ET (Live)
FOX Sports 2
08:00 AM – 10:00 AM ET (Recap)
FOX Sports 1
So all you sports car fans out there, strap in and buckle up for 12 hours of multi-class mayhem Sebring style!
It’s finally that time of year when we begin to shake off the winter doldrums and high performance engines roar to life once again. Today sees the start of the legendary 24-hour sports car marathon at Daytona International Speedway that serves as the unofficial start to the new year’s motorsport seasons in the Western world. This year’s Rolex 24 is the second that will be run under the banner of the Tudor United Sports Car Championship, which last year merged the two predominant US sports car series, American Le Mans and Rolex Grand-Am, into one competitive body. It features four distinct classes of race car in order of power and performance: Prototype (P); Prototype Challenge (PC); GT Le Mans (GTLM); and GT Daytona (GTD).
It should be interesting to see if the balance of performance within the top Prototype class has been evened out after the old Grand Am coupes, technically “Daytona Prototypes”, essentially blew away the Le Mans-style “P2” chassis last season. But as the LeMans-style prototypes began shifting to enclosed cockpit bodies as the year wore on they gained competitiveness and in fact it was the Honda-powered Ligier P2 of Ozz Negri driving for Mike Shank racing that claimed pole for today’s race ahead of the big Daytona Prototypes. So perhaps that bodes well for overall competitiveness on this demanding hybrid road/banked oval course and the series as a whole going forward. One thing’s for certain: whoever wins tomorrow afternoon after 24-hours of grueling, flat out racing in a crowded, multi-class field will have earned a place in motorsport history. They will also have earned our gratitude for at last kicking off the 2015 racing season in earnest. Wishing everyone a safe race and may the best car and driver team win!
And here is the broadcast and streaming schedule — with a little work and a lot of coffee you can watch the every minute of the Rolex 24-Hours of Daytona from the drop of the Green to the Checkered flag:
Saturday, Jan. 24 (All Times ET)
– 2-4 p.m. (FOX Network)
– 4-8 p.m. (FOX Sports 2)
– 8-10 p.m. (FOX Sports 1)
Overnight (Jan. 24-25)
– 10 p.m. – 7 a.m. (IMSA TV on IMSA.com – live video streaming and commentary)
Truly, we are living in a golden age of race car safety. Yes, things can always be improved. But just 15 years ago one of these drivers probably would have perished. The fact that neither did is testament to the efforts of motorsports as a whole and to safety pioneers like Sid Watkins and Jackie Stewart. Every driver should say a word of thanks to those persistent crusaders for the ever-improving safety of their road going cars but especially if they are weekend racers, semi-pro or professional.