This year at Le Mans, Ford has just rekindled its old rivalry with Ferrari in a huge way. While history tells a wild tale, this recent donnybrook started just the other weekend when the No. 68 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT took home the win in the LM GTE Pro category at Le Mans, marking 50 years since Ford’s 1-2-3 victory at the race back in 1966.
For those of you who have been snoozing under a granite slab somewhere, the Le Mans 24 Hours race is the world’s oldest active endurance race, and has been held every year since 1923. Since 2012, the Le Mans 24 Hours has been a part of the FIA World Endurance Championship, and most motoring enthusiasts would agree that it remains highly revered as the most iconic road race in the world.
So this year, Ford’s Chip Ganassi Racing team opted to run two Ford GTs in the FIA World Endurance Championship and two more in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. When the green flag flew at Le Mans, all four cars were on the roster to compete, as over 200,000 thirsty spectators looked on, drinking it all in. In a tasteful homage to the 50th anniversary of the 1966 sweep and all that would follow, Ford allowed the two WEC Ford GTs to retain their No. 66 and 67 race numbers, and outfitted its IMSA cars with No. 68 and 69, thus honoring its victories in 1966, 1967, 1968, and 1969.
But there was another homage thrown into the mix this year that didn’t get as much attention, and although it may not have been as game changing as swapping in a couple lucky winning years from the late 1960s, it was by no means a small undertaking. Ever since Ford first announced it would be working with Danish toy maker Lego, we have wondered what might result, and for something as paramount as the endurance race of champions, something massive would be needed to pay tribute.
What you see here is a single Lego maniac’s reproduction of one of the cars that competed in this year’s race, neither of which was a small undertaking. Master builder Pascal Lenhard has been Lego’s top creative mind since back in 2012, when he first underwent a three-part series of rigorous building tests. So when he got tapped to undertake the construction of both a modern Ford GT race car and the iconic GT40 at a third of their real size, the Frenchman jumped at the chance to spearhead the project.
Overall, the build took three weeks to complete, required the use of over 40,000 bricks and more patience than should be humanly possible. Every last little detail from the green wing mirrors to the American flag above the lower barge boards had to be put in place before both the historic GT40 and the modern Ford GT race car could go on display that weekend at Circuit de la Sarthe, in France.
Even the classic Ford GT40, which served as a steady reminder of the 50 years since Ford first swept the competition with a 1-2-3 win at the legendary track, was meticulously designed and inspected before being deemed complete. This leads us to an interesting topic: Is this just a fun publicity stunt on Ford’s behalf, or a legitimate marketing campaign that aims to entice young buyers well ahead of their first driving exam?
A few months back we did a piece on Ford’s collaborative projects with Lego, and what that could potentially mean for both die-hard Blue Oval fans, and fledgling automotive fanatics. By gearing itself toward a wider demographic of enthusiast, Ford has found a way to potentially leverage future sales by promoting its “fun side” with things like 1:3 size GT race cars and Raptor truck kits. Regardless of whether this sort of thing ends up selling more cars or not, it brings attention to both brands, and we think it’s badass in every possible way. Now as for Ferrari, who has had a far longer relationship with the toy maker, well, we wouldn’t be surprised to hear some squabbling over this sort of publicity push after its recent defeat at Le Mans.