Love Letters to Gulf Oils

The world of motor racing was once dominated by alcohol and cigarette sponsors piling vast amounts of money into our great sport. But one of the all-time most memorable sponsors and liveries continued its journey through the 60’s and beyond with the likes of Ford, Porsche, Mclaren and Mirage. Executive Vice President of Gulf Oils at the time, Grady Davis was a huge motorsport fan and had ordered a dark blue Ford GT40 chassis P/1049. In 67’ & 68’ Gulf Oils sponsored the car and added an orange stripe and its branding, a replica of which you can see here owned by David, a long-term marshal at Castle Combe Circuit.

The Ford was co-driven by Dick Thompson and Jacky Ickx for the Daytona 24hr in 67’ where they finished 6th overall and won the over 2 litre class. It wasn’t until 1968 that the more recognisable light blue with orange was used that we find so iconic today. Gulf liveries have graced some of the most legendary race cars on the planet including the Porsche 917 and McLaren F1.

During our Retro Trackday in July we created the opportunity to get two quite special cars out on track for a shoot with resident photographer Chris Presley. The Tornado GT40 that pays homage to the original Gulf colours with Grady Davis, and a Ford GT Heritage Edition owned by one of our great customers. Side by side it is noticeable how much larger the later GT is, but they certainly have a resemblance. Those classic wind tunnel curves form an exterior shape that makes both machines look fast even when stood on the grid, whilst the front clam ducts and aero holes perched behind the cockpit bare a resemblance to one another.

This particular 2020 Heritage Edition GT sports the number 6 from the famous 69’ Le Mans race where Jacky Ickx took the win by passing a Porsche on the very last lap, Arguably the most famous endurance race in history. This car is just 1 of 50 produced by Ford to commemorate that period.

We jump in the cars for a few out laps on our trackday lunch break, I have had the honour of riding in the GT40 before so Chris hops in the passenger seat. Instead, I carefully manoeuvre into the passenger side of the GT before the owner at 6ft 4 and a half, slides himself in and starts the twin turbo V6, just like the original, it is tight inside and we have to take it in turns to do up seat belts. These cars are said to produce 660bhp with a 0-60 of 3.2 seconds and pushing on to 216mph.

We leave the pit exit and I check behind to see all is clear, I am met by a vision of a historic race circuit through the large aero hole that takes up the passenger side mirror view as the car proceeds to eat up tarmac towards Avon Rise. Despite our leisurely laps before coming to a stop for photos on the grid, you can tell the car has serious pace, it sits into corners with ease and the twin turbos dump pressure as the driver drops off throttle.

Sat on the grid as we chat and Chris takes some fantastic shots it is clear to all that this is a moment that does not happen too often. The chance to get on a static start line on a circuit that is over 70 years old with two cars that reflect on icons of motorsport. Looks of passion are exchanged between those on the grid as we all realise that its moment like these that us petrolheads live for. We then head off for rolling shots behind our Landcruiser where Chris provides us with the most fantastic shots of the day. Then it’s all rounded up with the two cars lapping together for a few moments, very very special!

Big thanks to the owners of the cars for allowing us to get them together and to Chris for his relentless drive to give our customers excellent images on our trackdays.

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