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Capri, Mustang and Ranger - Here's how Ford dominated local and international motorsport

2020-05-12 08:30
modified saloons

Sarel vd Merwe leading Chris Aberdein, Terry Moss and Ben Morgenrood in Wesbank Modified Saloons in Welkom 1994. Image: Tony Alves

Ford is one of the automakers with a rich history in motorsport.

Who can forget their 1960s rivalry with Ferrari at Le Mans? And lest we forget, Ford's involvement in the V8 Supercar Down Under (Australia).

Its involvement in motorsport spreads over decades and the podium lockout at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans was described by executive chairman, Bill Ford, as "the defining moment in Ford's race history."

But Ford's racing heritage begins at the very beginning. In 1901, Henry Ford, company founder, participated in a racing event and won it, which led to the formation of the Ford Motor Company. This race was the only one Ford would participate in.

In 1903, the Ford Motor Company was founded, and its list of victories look as follows: 176 Formula 1 victories, 676 NASCAR, 91 World Rally, and 330 V8 Supercar wins to its name, and countless other victories and podium results at grassroots, national and international level racing.


Do you recall a memorable motorsport moment unique to South Africa? Email us.

Here is a brief list of motorsport codes Ford was/is involved in:

Nascar

In 1948, with the advent of Nascar, Ford won the very first race of what would become the backbone of American motorsport. In 2018, Ford announced that it would return to Nascar with its Mustang, and did so with the 2019 season.

Of all the motorsport codes the Mustang participated in over the years, 2019 would be the first time that this Pony car would line up for Nascar.

Ford Escort

Did you know that the great Sarel van der Merwe used to race for Ford SA? Locally, in the hands of Super Van and co-pilot Franz Boshoff, the Escort was a force to be reckoned with. In 1992/3, Van der Merwe took to the championship fight in a Ford Laser and ended as runner-up in both seasons.

The Laser, the successor to the Escort rally car, was also the first car Enzo Kuun, a now-multiple SA rally champion, began his rally career with.

Ford Mondeo in SA Touring Cars

In the early 1990s, Ford participated in the AA Fleetcare Series and Touring Car Championship. The series, seen as the pinnacle of SA circuit racing, attracted drivers from around the world, and Van der Merwe would, once again, be one of the Ford factory team drivers.

touring cars

Sarel leading Steve Wyndham in Ford Mondeos in Fleetcare SA Touring Cars in 1995. Image: Tony Alves

Ford Capri Perana

Basil Green may be known as one of the leaders of car modifications in SA, but one of his finest works is that of the Ford Capri Perana V8. In the 1960s and 70s, Green modified the car to such an extent that it was virtually unbeatable. In 1970, the Perana V8 won 13 of the 14 races in the Group5  category and could reach speeds in access of 270km/h on the old Kyalami circuit's main straight.

Green and his team built around 500 of these Peranas.

Ford Capri Perana V8

Ford Capri Perana V8. Image: Tony Alves

Ranger hits top gear

In 2013, a young Lance Woolridge powered his V8-powered Ford Ranger to victory on debut in the South African Cross Country Series. Woolridge and co-driver, Ward Huxtable, would score many more wins over the years, as well as back-to-back championships in 2018 and 2019.

At the start of 2020, Neil Woolridge Motorsport (Neil is Lance's father) announced that they'd be competing in the premier FIA-class of the SACCS. For the first half of the season, the team would participate with their V8 Ranger, but in the second half, a new race bakkie will make its debut – featuring a twin-turbocharged 3.5-litre EcoBoost V6 petrol engine.

However, with Covid-19 having through everything into disarray, don't discount the team to kick-start the season with their new bakkie.

Compiled by: Charlen Raymond

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