by Gary Smith
Ford Total Performance: Ford’s Legendary High-Performance Street and Race Cars by Martyn L. Schorr; foreword by Lee Holman; Motorbooks. Available at Amazon. ISBN: 978-0-7603-4858-1
For a Chevy enthusiast that came of age in the ’60s, Martyn Schor’s book is most enlightening. I now understand why Ford, more often than not, tromped Chevrolet in so many competitive venues. Simply put, Ford was committed to racing big time through direct and indirect sponsorship. By contrast, Duntov was only able to build five Corvette Grand Sports before the General turned off the tap, typical of GM’s indecisive corporate commitment to racing.
Ford Total Performance was Ford’s mission statement that defined their vision—unconditional surrender through overwhelming firepower. Ford was serious. The dethroning of Ferrari at LeMans is offered as proof.
Martyn chronicles Ford’s success from Henry’s day. Mr. Ford realized early on that the fastest way to gain publicity for his motorcar was to win races. Decades later, that idea was not lost on Henry Ford II. Win on Sunday, sell on Monday. And win they did.
I grew up in Riverside, California. Dan Gurney, a local talent, won the Motor Trend 500 five times in six years (’63, ’64, ’65, ’66, and ’68) in Holman and Moody prepared Fords. Locally the race was called the Dan Gurney 500. Dan Gurney for President stickers were seen on car bumpers. Ford’s presence was pervasive.
Previously posted on Dean’s Garage: Ford Racing Photo Archive.
Ford’s racing success in the ’60s is legendary. Martyn’s book is the Who’s Who of the key players that made Ford Total Performance a reality. This includes Carroll Shelby, a visionary who walked into an unprecedented opportunity, and was instrumental in condensing Ford’s broad mission into reality.
Ford was into nearly everything—NASCAR, Trans Am, CANAM, Indy cars, drag racing, endurance racing, Formula 1, and rallying. The author writes from first hand experience as the Editorial Director of New York-based Hi-Performance Cars magazine, and was there at the outset of Ford’s Total Performance campaign. He thoroughly documents the cars, the people that made it happen, and the process that Ford used to get its performance hardware in front of the public. Martyn also reveals insights and interesting side stories about the era, and facts that weren’t included in the press releases.