Driven to Win: Sports Car Performance Center
Jim Hall and Engineers at Chaparral Cars, Midland Texas, Summer, 1968. Hall pioneered some of the modern aerodynamic devices used on race cars. / THF111335
Anatomy of a Winner: Design. Optimize. Implement.
The Sports Car Performance Center section of our new racing exhibit, Driven to Win: Racing in America Presented by General Motors, is racing research and development on steroids. Passion and fortitude come standard.
The modern race shop encompasses a combination of scientific research, computer-aided design and engineering, prototyping, product development and testing, fabrication, and manufacturing. Here you can go behind the scenes to see how experts create winning race cars, using their knowledge in planning and problem-solving.
You can learn about key elements for achieving maximum performance through an open-ended exploration of components of the cars on display, as well as through other activities. STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) principles are a key focus here.
2016 Ford GT Race Car
(On loan from Ford Motor Company)
This is the actual car that won the LMGTE Pro class at the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans. The win was historic because it happened on the 50th anniversary of Ford’s first Le Mans victory in 1966, but over that half-century, racing technology advanced enormously, and the engine is half the size (a 3.5-liter, all-aluminum V-6 compared with a 7-liter, cast-iron V-8). But twin turbochargers (vs. naturally aspirated intake), direct fuel injection (vs. carburation), and electronic engine controls (vs. all mechanical) gave the GT engine almost 650 horsepower, versus slightly over 500 horsepower for the Mark IV.
Computer-aided design and engineering, aerodynamic innovations to maximize downforce and minimize drag, and electronic controls for the engine and transmission all combine to make the 2016 Ford GT a much more advanced race car, as you would expect 50 years on. The technology and materials advances in the GT’s brakes, suspension and tires, combined with today’s aerodynamics, make its handling far superior to its famous ancestor.
2001 C5-R Corvette
(On loan from General Motors Heritage Center)
You can’t talk about American sports car racing without America’s sports car. The Chevrolet Corvette was in its fifth styling generation when the race version C5-R debuted in 1999. The Corvette Racing team earned 35 victories with the C5-R through 2004, including an overall victory at the 24 Hours of Daytona in 2001. This is the car driven by Ron Fellows, Johnny O'Connell, Franck Freon, and Chris Kneifel in that Daytona win.
Beyond the cars, you can see these artifacts related to sports car performance in Driven to Win.
Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon earned Ford its first win at Le Mans with the #2 GT40 on June 19, 1966. Ford celebrated that victory with another one on June 19, 2016—exactly 50 years later. / lemans06-66_083
Learn more about sports car performance with these additional resources from The Henry Ford.
- Listen as Raj Nair, President and COO of Multimatic, and Henry Ford III, former Global Marketing Manager for Ford Performance, describe their experiences building, testing and racing the 2016 Ford GT—or watch a longer conversation with Raj Nair, Ford Performance’s Mark Rushbrook, and the driver who took the 2016 Ford GT on its final lap across the 24 Hours of Le Mans finish line, Joey Hand.
- Watch Jim Hall explain how he became one of the first to realize the advantages of utilizing aerodynamic downforce to help keep race cars on the road.
- Hear from Carroll Shelby on his approach to designing and building high-performance automobiles.
- Listen as Mario Andretti describes the mystique of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
- Hear the story of Ford’s 1960s Le Mans campaign as told by Carroll Shelby, Dan Gurney, A.J. Foyt, and others.
- View the trophy given to Ford at Le Mans in 1966.
- See photos from Ford’s successful 1967 run at Le Mans.
- Learn how Bobby Unser developed a quick, inexpensive method of measuring airflow under race cars.
making, technology, cars, engineering, race cars, Henry Ford Museum, Driven to Win, design, racing