TBT: How Mustang Introduced Itself to the World of Motorsports

Jun 13, 2024

Shortly after the Ford Mustang burst onto the scene in 1964, it made its entry into motorsports, where the Pony car translated its booming sales in the U.S. – it would go on to set the industry record for first-year sales with more than 418,000 units – into racing glory at the 10-day, 3,500-mile Tour de France. 

Much as Ford rival Ferrari had dominated the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Jaguar had a five-year winning streak at the Tour de France. The 13th installment of the race included eight contests at various tracks, including Le Mans and Monza, along with eight hill climbs. The Alan Mann Racing-prepared Mustangs did not disappoint, taking a 1-2 finish in the touring class and only missing a clean sweep thanks to the disqualification of a third Mustang entry. The two Mustangs at the front of the pack, driven by Peter Procter and Andrew Cowan, were two of just 19 cars to finish the race out of the 56 that started the marathon days earlier. 

Like Mustang, Alan Mann Racing was new on the scene in 1964, having been established that year by its namesake former driver. The newly formed team reportedly outfitted the Mustangs with new engines and other components in preparation for the grueling endurance test. They had tested and evaluated a preproduction Mustang chassis earlier that year at Goodwood. Alan Mann Racing was also involved in racing the Ford Cortina and Falcon and had a hand in Ford’s triumphs at Le Mans in the 1960s. In 1965, the team raced the Shelby Cobra in a portion of the World GT Championship effort that saw Ford/Shelby win the World Championship. 

Earlier this year, Alan Mann Racing was honored with the Spirit of Ford Award, Ford Motor Company’s highest honor in auto racing. The lifetime achievement award recognizes contribution to the automotive industry both on and off the racetrack. More recently, Mustang’s Tour de France feat served as part of the inspiration for the new “Champion Spirit” livery that adorns the Mustang GT3 race car, which will take to the track at Le Mans this weekend, marking the car’s first competition there in nearly 30 years. The car was run there by independent race teams in 1967 and 1997.  

While Mustang was already flourishing in the marketplace, the win at the Tour de France helped establish a legacy of Mustang success in motorsports that continues today.

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