A magnificent line-up of Ford GT40s is being assembled for the seventh Castle Combe Autumn Classic on Saturday 6 October when the model’s 1968 Le Mans victory will be celebrated.
A number of genuine period GT40s will take to the Wiltshire track for some demonstration laps that also pay homage to local racer Bath garage owner Ron Fry who raced two GT40s at his local track in the late 1960s, starting with chassis 1017 and then moving up to the ex-Targa Florio chassis 1073.
Already confirmed are two cars from the stable of experienced historic racer Philip Walker, including chassis 1041, which was originally sold to Belgian racer Jean Blaton in 1966. More recently, Mike Jordan put the car on pole position for the Whitsun Trophy at Goodwood last September and it remains in its original livery.
The second car from Walker is a rare open-cockpit Roadster, one of only five such prototypes built in 1964 and ’65 and used in the 1965 Le Mans test. The car was also raced and contested the 1965 Targa Florio road race with John Whitmore and Bob Bondurant as an entry by Ford Advanced Vehicles. It was crashed in the race but fully restored around 10 years ago.
“I’m very happy to bring these two cars to Castle Combe for the Autumn Classic and run them on the track,” said Walker, who is also likely to be racing in the GT and Sports Car Cup race.
Mark Finburgh will bring his chassis 1071, which he raced at Castle Combe 45 years ago. At the famous FordSport Race Day on 10 June 1973 Finburgh contested a special GT40 and AC Cobra race and finished sixth. Four years earlier, when owned by Piers Forester, the car was raced by Roger Hurst to third place in a Special GT race on 23 August 1969.
Meanwhile, Andrew Komosa will bring his car, now running in the 1967 colours of Sid Taylor Racing, and the team at Castle Combe is on the trail of cars raced in period by local aces Fry and Terry Drury.
The Ford GT40 was first raced in 1964 and went on to win the Le Mans 24-hour race four times in a row from 1966 to 1969. Fifty years ago chassis 1075 won in the hands of Pedro Rodriguez and Lucien Bianchi and made history a year later by becoming the first chassis and engine to take back-to-back wins in the race, this time driven by Jackie Ickx and Jackie Oliver.
There is no doubt that the Ford GT40 remains one of the most evocative sports-racing cars of the 1960s and the spectacle of several of them on the Castle Combe track will be among the highlights of the Autumn Classic.
Tickets for the Autumn Classic are £20 for an adult and £15 for a senior, accompanied under 17s are free. Advanced tickets include paddock admission. To purchase tickets, click here.