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SOMEONE UP THERE SAID 'LET'S RACE,' AND LO FORD CAME FLYING
Bob Ottum
December 25, 1967
"I will build a motor car for the great multitude." —HENRY FORD, 1906
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December 25, 1967

Someone Up There Said 'let's Race,' And Lo Ford Came Flying

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Shelby: I need a couple of Ford engines for a new sports car. I've got some chassis at the A.C. Car Co. back thar in England.

Frey (wearily): Why not? But one thing: the cars have got to say 'Powered by Ford' on them.

Shelby: Fahn.

"Oh, well," Frey now says. "I thought for sure he was just an eccentric Texas millionaire building a toy. But we gave him the engines—a couple of dozen, actually—and he built these A.C. 'Powered by Ford' Cobras, and he won an SCCA class with them. We were suddenly in the sports-car business."

SCENE: The office of William Innes, now a vice-president for Ford's Engine, Transmission and Parts Group, but then—in 1962—a mere engineer.

In come Gurney and Colin Chapman. Mr. Chapman obviously has several things going for him: 1) he had designed some wonderful racing chassis, which he has the consummate guts to call Lotus; 2) he clearly knows what racing is all about; and 3) he looks like David Niven.

Chapman: Give me an engine with 350 horsepower in 350 pounds and I'll win Indy.

Innes: I just might be able to do exactly that. It will look like a Fairlane engine, but do not let that worry you.

"This Indy project did not have what you might call a whole lot of sanction," Frey recalls. "But we had been researching a small aluminum engine, about 4.2 liters, the Indy limit, and, at approximately that time, in came Gurney and Chapman. Everything sort of went click, click, click. And, my God, we practically won Indy our first time out with, of all things, a Fairlane engine I"

Flash now to another key man in the Indy plan. He is William H. Gay, at present the chief engineer of Ford's Engine and Foundry operations. Gay is regarded with absolute awe by people who know the business. There is talk around Dearborn, not confirmed, that he can heal an engine by laying his hands on it. Gay designed the Indy engine.

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