- Ford GT Factory drivers, team and partners talk about the program
- Ford Chip Ganassi Racing’s Ford GT team ends four-year factory run at Petit Le Mans
- Program earns 19 wins and 23 poles in IMSA, FIA WEC
- Ford CGR will close out IMSA season at the 10-hour Petit Le Mans in Braselton, Ga. Oct. 12, 2019.
DEARBORN, Mich., Oct. 8, 2019–Careers were set on new trajectories. History, as well as new, lasting friendships, was created. Memories that will go down as legend were made.
For the people who made Ford Chip Ganassi Racing happen, the best moments were often, but not always, of the podium.
No. 66 Ford GT – IMSA /No. 68 Ford GT (Le Mans 24)
Favorite memory: “From Le Mans, when I passed the Ferrari on my final stint. That was my favorite memory because that gave us the lead and we never gave it back. The whole story just came together right there, amazingly. The whole 50-year anniversary thing was one thing, but the Ford vs. Ferrari thing played out exactly 50 years later. For me, that was the big memory from the Le Mans 24. Also, looking back, I got to see the replay that’s been in the highlights a lot, the moment they show everyone cheering in the garage. Everyone was thinking ‘this could be the time.’ It was cool to be part of it.”
What’s one thing people don’t know about the program?
“The story’s been told, but just the time we all went to the Ford Motor Company Design Center and got a look at all the stuff in the basement. I don’t know if people realize how true that is…being in a secret basement room that used to be used for storage. We walked in there…I thought it was a joke when we were talking about it, but the whole room had the design of everything in there. Every detail had been thought out. On one side, they had the street car, and the designs of the exterior, the interior, everything. Then on the other side, they had our firesuits, livery, all of it. Head to toe, they designed everything. That is still one of the coolest parts of the program to me.”
Favorite memory: “That is obviously driving the last laps at the Le Mans 24, after seeing the checkered flag. Finally realizing what just happened. After four years, that was the big win. We were under so much pressure that first year and it all came together. The whole team. Not just us drivers, but the whole team did the perfect job. They executed it well and gave us the opportunity to fight for a victory.”
What’s one thing people don’t know? “What a lot of people don’t know is there was lots of crying going on over the radio (after the Le Mans 24 win in 2016). I could tell the boys were crying.”
No. 67 Ford GT – IMSA /No. 69 Ford GT (Le Mans 24)
Favorite memory: “I have two. One was definitely being on the podium at Le Mans the first year, with Joey and Dirk and Seb winning and Richard, Scott and I on the podium with them. It was such an incredible moment. It’s my only Le Mans 24 podium and just to be up there with the sea of people below, just that moment itself, was really incredible. Our Rolex 24 at Daytona win, and again with both cars on the podium, is the second one. It was a hard battle all race long with the 66 car and was just a massive win. Huge excitement.”
What’s one thing people don’t know? “Definitely a big tradition has been finding a Mexican restaurant wherever we go. That’s been driven mostly by Joey (Hand), but Mexican food is a must-find at every single event we go to.”
No. 67 Ford GT – WEC
“There were some good wins along the way. Our home win at Silverstone was a great one in 2017, but I think the best moment was probably the 2nd at Le Mans in 2017. Following on from the 2016 victory. We had a great race in the No. 67. We ran pretty faultlessly at the front most of the way. I was third on the final lap and passed the Corvette for second with two corners to go, which we were told was the latest overtake for position in Le Mans history. That was a pretty cool moment. To get on the podium representing Ford was incredible.”
What’s one thing people don’t know? “I think, on a serious note, working with Andy was amazing. I learned so much from him, coming into the team as a 23-year-old. I really learned from his experience, especially on the feedback and set-up side. Driving, as well, but it really molded me into the professional driver I am today. That was great. On a lighthearted note, his request to change to black balaclavas was quite amusing.”
Ford Chip Ganassi Racing
Mike Hull, Managing Director, Chip Ganassi Racing
Favorite memory: “Our two American-entered Ford GTs finishing first and third at the Le Mans 24. The Ferrari in second place was also from an American entrant, Risi Competizione. When the nine drivers were on the podium, they raised three American flags and played ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’ The podium is probably 30 feet in the air, in front of what appeared to be 50,000 spectators on the front straight. The European motor racing fans applauded the flags and the drivers. For an American in France, it was very moving.”
What’s one thing people don’t know? “This has been a six-year program. The first two years, 2014 and 2015, our team ran a Daytona Prototype car to develop the engine, its components, radiators, heat exchangers, turbos, engine management, and electronics so that it was a totally developed engine package. As an entire package, it was fit right into the GT car when testing began prior to the 2016 race season. When GT testing began in October of 2015, our team was able to concentrate on the chassis itself as the engine and its accessories that were integral to the Ford engine plugged right in as we were all ready to go – that was a big step, immediately.”
Ford Motor Company
Kevin Groot, Ford IMSA/WEC Program Supervisor
Favorite memory: “It has to be the Rolex 24 at Daytona win in 2018 when we went 1-2 with the Ford GTs. That felt so good. To have the cars and team run like clockwork for a 24-hour race and with so few yellows, and to be able to dominate like that. It’s just doesn’t happen that often.”
What’s one thing people don’t know? “I think my favorite best-untold story involved Dirk in the middle of the night at Le Mans 2016. He was in the middle of his stint and getting some lights on his display. Dirk got pretty wound up and was saying ‘the (expletive) lights are purple!’ But nobody could understand him even as he repeated himself many times. This went on for quite a while, until the team had to get Joey on the headset to interpret what Dirk was saying.”
Larry Holt, Chief Technical Officer
Most significant memory: “My favorite memory is from May 16, 2015, when the first Ford GT turned a wheel at Calabogie, where we test cars near Ottawa, and ran faultlessly for two days. Scott Maxwell started to make calls on the set-up, something that normally doesn’t happen on the first run unless everything is really good. My strongest, overwhelming memory, though, is of the Rolex 24 at Daytona in 2016. It is not a good memory but it is a very strong story of how the team (Multimatic, Ford, Ford CGR) overcame adversity. We ran 18,000 km of testing between May 2015 and Daytona at the end of January 2016. There were a few small issues that we sorted but nothing that raised any flags on the cars’ robustness and/or durability. But, as the world knows, one car was out of contention in the first hour due to a gearbox shift valve issue that we had never, ever encountered. The other car suffered the same problem and so both were completely out of contention early on. It was an amazing, bad turn of events that I will never forget for how depressed it made me feel, but also how it motivated us all to dig deep and fix that issue and double down on looking at every other system on the car, ending in a trouble-free run for three out of four cars at Le Mans five months later.”
What’s one thing people don’t know? “There are many things people don’t know about the program. The Ford CGR FIA WEC branch of the team was run by Multimatic Motorsports Europe. That was a big deal for us.”