Ford won LeMans in 1966, and they won again today, June 19, 2016, fifty years later to the date.
When I was ten, this was important. The Ford GTs were the pinnacle of sports racing endurance cars, and one of the winning drivers, Bruce McLaren, was a racing driver I admired, so wow, Bruce McLaren, in a Ford GT, won LeMans. Groovy!
I don’t know where Dad was that year. Mom and Dad had divorced. I lived with Mom and my sisters in the Pittsburgh, Pa, area. Dad was in the Air Force, and I think he was outside of the United States. I think he may have been in Vietnam. My belief is fixed on Dad’s Ford Thunderbird. A turquoise hardtop convertible, that car was gorgeous. It was also sitting in my Uncle Pete’s garage in Penn Hills, Pa, alongside Uncle Pete’s white ’65 Mustang coupe.
Yeah, I was into cars.
Cars are what connect Dad and I to this day. When we speak, we chat about what we’re driving and what new car designs have, or are about to, come out. After the ’65 Thunderbird (or maybe ’66), he had a ’68 Thunderbird coupe, red, with a black landau top. He traded it in for a maroon ’74 Monte Carlo, but went back to the Ford Thunderbird, buying a white one in 1976.
Then he took on Corvettes, buying and driving three or four of them, having them as a second car while his primary vehicle was a pick up truck or SUV. There was one break in all of this when he bought a Cadillac. (Dad in a Cadillac is as strange as me in a Cadillac.) Memory isn’t as fixed about those cars. I was an adult by then, separated from him by life. But like him, I was in the US Air Force and enjoyed performance and sports cars. My first car I bought was a 1968 Camaro. Returning from the Philippines, I bought an orange Porsche 914 and drove it from West Virginia to Texas and back. It was left for a Pontiac Firebird, which I sold when we left for Okinawa. Returning from there, I bought a 1985 Mazda RX-7. The RX-7 was my Corvette, as I ended up owning three of them, trading in my black 1993 Mazda RX-7 R1 less than two years ago, after owning it for nineteen years.
When I call Dad later today, he’ll ask me if if I still have the RX-7 and then remember that I traded it in for a Mazda CX-5. He’ll mention his step-daughter’s Corvette, which he helped her buy. We’ll talk about the newly redesigned Miata, and I’ll ask him if he’s seen the new Fiat 124, based on the Miata. Besides the way I look, walk and talk, and the color of my eyes, hair and skin, and my build, there is no doubt I’m my father’s son.
We are car guys.