A new one-make Ford GT40 race series is set to go ahead next year in the UK in honour of Chris Amon’s 1966 Le Mans 24 Hour victory.
Launched by Motor Racing Legends, two 80-minute races for pre-1966 GT40 will go ahead at Donnington Park and Silverstone early next year. The driver with the best results after the two races will be the recipient of the inaugural Amon Cup.
The Amon family will be at both races in-person to gift the trophy to the winning driver.
Partnered with fellow Kiwi Bruce McLaren, Amon famously headed a 1-2-3 victory for the American manufacturer, beating the imperious Ferrari outfit who had claimed wins in the previous five iterations of the endurance classic.
Amon and McLaren were instructed to stage an orchestrated photo finish with the sister Ford of Denny Hulme and Ken Miles.
Amon and McLaren were only later declared the winners because they had started eight metres behind Hulme and Miles 24 Hours earlier. The race has also been immortalised in Hollywood with the award-winning Le Mans ’66 film (Ford vs Ferrari).
“All the works Fords were on Goodyears except ours: we were contracted to Firestone,” later recalled Amon.
“It rained off and on during the night, and by Sunday morning we were in the lead, about a minute ahead of the Ken Miles/Denny Hulme car.
“Ford then hung out the EZ sign which Bruce took some notice of, but Ken didn’t slow down one iota and brought back the advantage we had.
“Then something weird happened: at the next pitstop, when we weren’t due a tyre change, the Goodyear guy, without even looking at the tyres, ordered the mechanics to change one of the fronts, which delayed us. I guess he didn’t want Firestone-contracted drivers winning.
“So, Ken was back in the lead. Bruce was getting aggravated now. It rained some more, and it was unbelievably slippery.
“Bruce got past Ken again, and then Ford told us they wanted to stage a dead-heat. The two cars crossed the line more or less side-by-side, but the French decided we were the winners, because we’d been 20 yards behind Ken in the starting line-up.”
The victory was the just the first of four consecutive triumphs between ’66 and ’69 for Ford and the GT40.
Amon has also been recognised as one of the greatest Grand Prix drivers of his era. That is despite bearing the unfortunate title of the ‘world’s unluckiest driver’ given every time he was destined to win, some wave of events outside of his control would reverse this fate.
“He was one of the most prolific drivers of all time,” said Duncan Wiltshire from Motor Racing Legends.
“Chris Amon will forever be associated with the GT40 and we are deeply honoured that the Amon family will present the awards at each round in person.”