DEARBORN, Mich. – Three years after an emotional run at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, IndyCar Series star Dario Franchitti has been selected by The Henry Ford to once again drive one of Jim Clark’s most famous race vehicles in the 2013 edition of the Goodwood Revival in England beginning Friday.
The popular Scottish driver and three-time Indianapolis 500 winner was previously chosen to drive this historic car in 2010 when it returned to the Indy track for the first time since Clark drove the car to victory there in 1965.That victory, the first for a rear-engine car, and the first Indy win for Ford Motor Company, helped changed the sport of IndyCar forever.
“We are thrilled that Dario accepted the offer to drive the Lotus at Goodwood,” said Christian Overland, executive vice president of The Henry Ford. “We know how much the car means to him, and also how much the chance to help honor his hero Jim Clark means to him and his family.”
“The drive at Indy was a highlight of my life,” said Franchitti, who currently drives for Target Chip Ganassi Racing. “I’ve won the Indy 500 three times, but to drive that car there that day was something very, very special. Back in 1965, that car was cutting edge technology. It still feels very sharp and is bloody quick, especially in a straight line. You open up the four-cam Ford and hear that glorious noise, it’s just incredible. I was driving the car that day in Indy very much below its capability because it is a one-off, special piece of history. The drive that day was a very personal thing for me.”
In 1965, the Lotus-Ford, driven by Scottish-born Formula One star Jim Clark, won the Indianapolis 500. The Henry Ford acquired the car in 1977 and in 2009, the Ford engine was removed from the vehicle and shipped to Indianapolis, where conservation work began at Race Car Restorations, Inc. The chassis was restored by Classic Team Lotus run by Clive Chapman, son of Colin Chapman, founder of Lotus.
The creation of the Lotus-Ford stands as an excellent example of innovation and collaboration. Lotus and Ford Motor Company were ultimately brought together in the early 1960s by legendary American road-racer Dan Gurney. At that time, Gurney thought that the sleek, front-engine American Indianapolis race cars could be defeated by proper application of rear-engine, European Formula One technology. He introduced Ford engineers to Colin Chapman, founder of Lotus and one of the world’s most innovative race car builders. The result was a lightweight, aircraft-inspired Lotus chassis, with four-wheel independent suspension and powerful rear-mounted Ford V8 engine. The Lotus-Ford effectively killed the traditional Indy car and established a new paradigm for American race cars.
“The drive this weekend at Goodwood will be about demonstrating the car for all those fans of Jimmy, and I am excited about doing it,” said Franchitti, currently seventh in the IndyCar Series standings with two races left. “Goodwood is a fast, fast track that hasn’t changed much since back in the day, so I’ll be taking it very easy. It’s a demonstration run with a bunch of cars that were very important to Jimmy’s life and his career. I can’t tell you how privileged I feel to be able to do this.”
Franchitti will take the Lotus 38/1 on the course during the Jim Clark Tribute Parade throughout the weekend. The Lotus-Ford 38/1 Indy car will be on display all weekend at Goodwood in the paddock area of the event.