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The Blue Oval in the Winners Circle at the Indy 500

In the early 1960’s the nation seemed to be obsessed with racing and performance cars, the hot rodders of the fifties had paved the way for a new generation of performance fans and the Ford Motor Company wanted a share of their attention hoping it would turn into a share of their business as well! At the end of the 1962 Indianapolis 500 the decision was made at Ford to develop an engine for the nations ‘Greatest Racing Spectacle’ and the engineers went to work in a big, and expensive way! Starting with the 260 cubic inch V8 that was being used in the Fairlane and the Falcon, a car that would provide the under pinnings for the soon to come Mustang, new heads were designed with four cams and a reversed intake exhaust set up that made for a spaghetti like mass of tubes up on the top of the engine. Results were astounding as the intial test engines developed 350 hp and with more work  the 1964 dual overhead cam engine produced a  maximum output of 425 HP at 8,000 rpm and weighing ONLY 395 lbs! Fords amazing little power house engine was combined with a new, European race car built by Lotus that had a mid-engined desing and was smaller and handled much better than the popular American four cylinder roadster racers of the day. American driver Dan Gurney, familiar with the advanced Formula One cars from the British firm Lotus, saw the potential in combining a lithe European chassis with newly developed and  powerful Ford engine. He connected Lotus’s Colin Chapman with Ford Motor Company and the result was a lightweight monocoque chassis fitted with the new Ford Quad Cam V-8 mounted behind the driver. Jim Clark, who was already well known and would become a racing legend, was Team Lotus’s top driver and piloted the new car to an amazing second place finish on its debut run at the 1963 Indy 500. By the 1965 season Ford was especially eager for a win and sought every advantage it could gain. To ensure every advantage possible in keeping Jim on the track they brought in the Wood Brothers to serve as pit crew. The Woods were legendary in NASCAR for their precision refueling drills, and they were no less impressive at Indianapolis where they filled Clark’s car with 50 gallons in less than 20 seconds. The race was hardly a contest at all as Clark led for 190 of the race’s 200 laps and took the checkered flag nearly two minutes ahead of his nearest rival. Jim Clark became the first driver to finish the Indianapolis 500 with an average speed above 150 mph (he averaged 150.686) and would go on to become one of motor sports greatest. The Ford Quad Cam would provide the power for the winning Indy cars the next two years and a total of 6 times before Henry Ford II pulled the company out of racing completely in 1970 however the engine continued to be developed by A.J. Foyt for many years and continued winning as well. From the first time Henry Ford himself took the wheel ole Number 999, racing has been a part of Ford Motor Company and the results have ensured that Ford cars have provided the thrill of performance driving to millions of owners. From the motor that powered the Ford Falcon to the winners Circle at Indy; the racing heritage of Ford can clearly be seen and felt in cars like the all-new 2015 Mustang and will be for sure in many more cars from the racers at the Blue Oval!


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