Engineer Gay is not a man to be slowed down by company procedure; memos and phone calls make him impatient. During tests on the engine at Indy, when things would go wrong, Gay would not call back home for help.
"We'd just go over to Hertz," he barks, "rent us a couple of Fairlanes and bring them back and yank the engines out of them and replace all our broken parts. Then we'd have to go sneak the Fairlanes back to some local dealer and say 'Uhhh, fella, put this car back together so we can return it.' " Hertz never knew the role it played at Indy.
Sitting at the company's small test track in Dearborn, moodily watching a new Torino at work, Gay insists that racing is not fun, not a bit of it.
"Fun? Fun?" He bites savagely on his cigar. "Christ, no, it ain't fun. It's pure torture. It's murder. Standing there and listening to your engines and worrying about what could go bad. It eats at your stomach. And let me tell you another thing. When these guys win a race they always throw a big party, right? They have fancy food and drink champagne out of ladies' slippers, right? Do they invite me? No.
"But let them lose one race. No party. And do they blame the driver? No, because he's always the best driver in the whole world, whoever he is. Blame the tires? Never. Best tires in the world. They always blame me."
With that, Gay smiles and leans out to yell instructions to an aide. "Hey," he hollers, "let's race those two cars over there and see what happens. Tell them to really stand on it." Then he settles back and watches, clearly a man having fun.
But Ford wanted much more than success in stock car racing and at Indy. The next target was Le Mans and the fabulous publicity its 24-hour race confers upon winners. In 1963 Ferrari of prancing-horse and Le Mans fame sent out feelers indicating the company was for sale. Ford displayed what is called considerable interest. Frey was given a briefcase full of money with which to close the deal.
What was lost in subsequent translation was that Ferrari wanted to sell the cars and keep the racers. Ford wanted the racers and the hell with the cars. Ford was having enough trouble with its own cars in the 1963 marketplace. The deal collapsed, but Frey during the ordeal learned many new and expressive Italian words.
"The longest lunch I ever had in my life," he says, "was when I got back to Dearborn from Modena and I was called up to the penthouse dining room. I had never been there. I had to sit down and explain to Mr. Ford exactly what had happened to our deal. We were at lunch a long, long time."
Still, the result of the Day of the Long Lunch was that Ford said, "All right, then. We'll build our own Le Mans car." That led to Ford's abandoned warehouse on the outskirts of town. The company found a 10,000-square-foot facility in Dearborn, leased it under the name Kar Kraft—a name like that could fool anybody—and put it under special care. Ford picked an Englishman named Roy C. Lunn to run the place, a man who had been chief designer for Britain's Aston Martin and who had an impressive set of credentials from Aston and Ford of England.