The 1967 24 Hours of Le Mans was the 35th Grand Prix of Endurance, and took place on June 10 and 11 1967. It was also the seventh round of the World Sportscar Championship.
The Ford Mark IV was an updated version of the Ford J-Car, which was shelved following the fatal accident of Ken Miles in August 1966. The Mark IV had a low-drag body which increased the top speed of the car to nearly 220 mph. The surprise winners were Americans A. J. Foyt and Dan Gurney, who led all but the first 90 minutes of the race and defeated the factory Ferrari 330P4 of Italian Ludovico Scarfiotti and Briton Michael Parkes by nearly four laps. The team had to fabricate a roof "bubble" to accommodate the helmet of Dan Gurney, who stood more than 190 cm (6 feet, 3 inches) tall. In one famous incident which took place in the middle of the night, Gurney had been running quite easily to preserve his car, and Parkes came up behind in the second-place Ferrari (which was trailing by four laps, or 34 miles). For several miles Parkes hounded the Ford driver by flashing his passing lights in Gurney's mirrors until an exasperated Gurney simply pulled off the course at Arnage corner and stopped on a grassy verge. Parkes stopped behind him, and the two leading cars at Le Mans 1967 sat there in the dark, motionless, until Parkes finally realized this attempt at provocation was not going to work. After a few moments, he pulled around Gurney and resumed the race, with Gurney following shortly. With the cat-and-mouse game abandoned, each car then simply maintained their positions to the finish. This remains, to this day, the sole all-American victory at Le Mans: an American-built car, prepared by an American team and driven by American drivers.
When the winners mounted the victory stand, Gurney was handed the traditional magnum of champagne. Looking down, he saw Ford CEO Henry Ford II, team owner Carroll Shelby and their wives, as well as several journalists who had predicted disaster for the high-profile duo of Gurney and Foyt. Many of the journalists had predicted the two drivers, who were heated competitors in the United States, would break their car in intramural rivalry. Instead, both drivers took special care to drive the car with discipline and won easily. On the victory stand, Gurney shook the bottle and sprayed everyone nearby, establishing a tradition reenacted in victory celebrations the world over ever since. Gurney, incidentally, autographed and gave the bottle of champagne to a Life Magazine photographer, Flip Schulke, who used it as a lamp for many years. He recently returned the bottle to Gurney, who keeps it at his home in California.
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“Of Mans First Disobedience, and the Fruit
Of that Forbidden Tree, whose mortal taste
Brought Death into the World, and all our woe,
With loss of Eden, till one greater Man
Restore us, and regain the blissful Seat,
Sing Heavnly Muse, that on the secret top
Of Oreb, or of Sinai, didst inspire
That Shepherd, who first taught the chosen Seed,
In the Beginning how the Heavns and Earth
Rose out of Chaos:”
—John Milton (16081674)
“What eer you are
That in this desert inaccessible,
Under the shade of melancholy boughs,
Lose and neglect the creeping hours of time.”
—William Shakespeare (15641616)