One of auto racing’s tried and true car names, Orange Blossom Special, originated with Seaboard Airline Railroad’s fast and luxurious passenger trains connecting New York City through several rail lines to Palm Beach, Florida, eventually extending to Miami. american-rails.com states from 1927 through 1953, excepting a short WWII break, one of the period’s rail fastest and plushest trains opened up Florida’s warm climate to freezing northerners each winter.
Eccentric musician Ervin Rouse in 1938 wrote Orange Blossom Special creating what’s become violin (fiddle playing) musicians’ must know song of the same name. In 1965, Johnny Cash latched on OBS and, with help from more modern communication, concerts and radio play, popularized lyrics describing a lost love returning from a distant journey, created an acclaimed album bearing the same name.
In 1965 Shelby American pinned their iconic GT-350 name to Ford’s runaway hit Mustang performance/sports car. Interesting a train known for performance leant its name to a particular American muscle car known for same. Other cars, mostly Fords, borrowed the name in both high and low profile racing events, but none bore it as well and as proudly as Danny Moore’s Shelby GT-350.
The first modern Orange Blossom Special originated with Dallas’ Danny Moore transforming his street ’65 GT-350 into the most raced GT-350 ever, according to current owner Forrest. Campaigned 8 to 10 races per year from 1968 through 1971, and many races beyond, Moore piloted Orange Blossom Special in over 100 events including appearances 1970, ’72 &’74 Daytona 24 Hours, Sebring’s ’73 12 Hour, and several Mid Ohio 6 hours.
Pulling OBS out of retirement, Forrest tells me he’s owned this GT-350 (SAAC 5S-307) more than 4 years. It spent its 1st 3 of his ownership under restoration in Yukon, OK, with Greg Reynolds and many of the same guys responsible for its original 1960’s race preps.
A beautiful Friday, August 14th and an unusually hot Saturday, August 15th, 2015, brought Forrest’s and 35 other registered Shelby GT-350s from locations around the world and across the US to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and Rolex’ Motorsports Reunion’s annual vintage racing celebration. Many bore familiar white bodied blue striped livery. One stood out, brilliant orange, still featuring Moore’s RAM Racing moniker. I don’t know how many GT-350’s started Group 3A’s race that morning but it might as well have been all of them. That many racing icons pounding out RPM’s and dbs nearly piercing my hearing protection may never happen again. Inspiring fails its description. Maybe orgasmic suits better.
Forrest tells me he race preps his cars himself and 2015’s Motorsports reunion only its 2nd race after Sonoma earlier in that year. Powered by a well experienced 289 engine bearing GT-40 heads, Forrest placed Orange Blossom Special back out on the track where it was meant to be. Speed and history….. with a dash of Orange….. make a great weekend long cocktail.
See you at the track.
Pirelli World Challenge released their provisional 2017 calendar today.
Eleven GT Production Racing Weekends include Prestigious Motorsports Circuits
LEXINGTON, Ohio – WC Vision, producers of the exciting Pirelli World Challenge, today announced its provisional plans for the 2017 Pirelli World Challenge Championships with new series outlines and schedule for North America’s biggest GT Production-based road racing campaign.
In 2016, the PWC trail featured over 20 auto manufacturers and 37 separate models through its eight racing divisions – GT, GTA, GT Cup, GTS, Touring Car, TCA, TCB and SprintX – in its 27th year as one of the world’s most competitive and entertaining sedan racing series.
In addition, the Pirelli World Challenge worked closely with worldwide GT racing leader, the SRO Blancpain Series, in a variety of elements including Balance of Performance (BoP) parameters and other technical regulations.
For 2017, the PWC tour will provisionally host eleven weekends through North America including a return visit to Virginia International Raceway (VIR) with the popular 3.27-mile, 17-turn permanent road circuit set to host all eight PWC classes on April 28-30. PWC’s last VIR appearance was in 2010. In addition, the series season-opener the past two years, Circuit of the Americas (COTA), will host all eight categories in a Labor Day spectacular set for Sept. 1-3.
As usual, the Pirelli World Challenge will visit many of North America’s most prestigious and legendary race facilities starting with the season opener scheduled for the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., on March 10-12, the annual Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
“We are extremely excited about our provisional 2017 Pirelli World Challenge schedule especially after the competition level in 2016,” said Greg Gill, president and CEO of WC Vision. “We will give our racing fans the opportunity to witness the excitement and wheel-to-wheel action that makes the Pirelli World Challenge so special. We want to thank many of North America’s most iconic road racing venues in bringing the best GT Production-based motorsports racing to their racing facilities in 2017. We hope to have the schedule finalized very soon.”
In addition to the provisional look at the 2017 schedule, Pirelli World Challenge also announced a new format for the GT and GTS events include five single-driver sprint events at the five weekends with the Verizon IndyCar Series including St. Petersburg, Long Beach (April 7-9), Road America (June 23-25), Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (July 28-30) and one other weekend to be announced. All except Long Beach (GT single race) will be doubleheader weekend.
In the five PWC headliner races, all eight PWC classes will compete at VIR (April 28-30), Canadian Tire Motorsports Park (May 19-21), Lime Rock Park (May 26-27), COTA (Sept. 1-3) and another summer weekend event to be announced in the near future.
In the PWC headliner weekends, the GT and GTS classes will be competing in the SprintX two-driver format with a 60-minute limit for each of the doubleheader features. Each entry will have two drivers competing in either a GT or GTS car during those contests.
“The GT3 and GTS/GT4 customers now have increased opportunities to run for a single or two-driver championship or compete in all events for an overall title,” said Marcus Haselgrove, Pirelli World Challenge Competition Director. “Plus, the addition of the Am (non-pro) class in GTS/GT4 is in response to our customer feedback.”
The Pirelli World Challenge finale again will take place at the prestigious Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with a unique weekend set for racers and fans on Oct. 13-15. Working in conjunction with the popular European-based SRO Blancpain GT Series, the SRO Motorsports Group Intercontinental GT Challenge will include a six-hour GT endurance contest with US-based GT teams.
The Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca event will be part of the global GT3 series which includes the Liqui-Moly Bathhurst 12 Hours, Total 24 Hours of Spa and the Sepang 12 Hours. The Intercontinental GT Challenge is aimed at manufacturers, who are encouraged to use local teams to represent them in the leading GT3 races, as it is more cost- and time-effective to fly engineers and drivers around the world rather than cars and equipment.
# # #
2017 Provisional Pirelli World Challenge Schedule
|March 10-12||Streets of St. Petersburg||GT/GTA/GT Cup, GTS|
|April 7-9||Streets of Long Beach||GT|
|April 28-30||Virginia International Raceway||GT/GTA/GT Cup, GTS, TC, TCA, TCB, SprintX|
|May 19-21||Canadian Tire Motorsport Park||GT/GTA/GT Cup, GTS, TC, TCA, TCB, SprintX|
|May 26-27||Lime Rock Park||GT/GTA/GT Cup, GTS, TC, TCA, TCB, SprintX|
|June 23-25||Road America||GT/GTA/GT Cup, GTS|
|July 28-30||Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course||GT/GTA/GT Cup, GTS|
|August||TBA||GT/GTA/GT Cup, GTS, TC, TCA, TCB, SprintX|
|Sept. 1-3||Circuit of the Americas (COTA)||GT/GTA/GT Cup, GTS, TC, TCA, TCB, SprintX|
|September||TBA||GT/GTA/GT Cup, GTS|
|Oct. 13-15||SRO Intercontinental GT Challenge||GT|
[photo | mike gillilan]
Will Lightning Strike Again?
So driving your heart out, making your shifts over the last 24 hours, busting your bearings against the world’s most iconic brands and drivers, proving you, Ken Miles and Dennis Hulme behind the wheel of a Ford 7 liter powered GT40 Mark II supercar deserve a rousing trophy hoist in the winner’s circle of 1966’s Le Mans 24 hour endurance race. You’re about to make your statement putting the rest of the racing world on notice: Ford Motor Company builds cars capable of enduring more and outperforming all others. You can taste it!
Ken’s at the wheel. Victory’s in sight. Miles & teammate Dennis Hulme’s previous 24 hours blur speed, adrenalin and pride as the finish line lies ahead with Ferrari’s P3 entrants nothing more than carcasses along the roadside. Ford’s hierarchy, though, radioed out instruction: All three finishing Ford GT40 Mark II’s were to cross the finish line together. Take that Enzo! Ford’s 3 car team finish posted single digit salutes ending a race going down in history with, if not the most dominant win in Le Mans’ record books to date, at least the most controversial finish. Slowing his GT40, Miles, leading most of Ford’s race, allowed Bruce McClaren and Chris Amon’s Mark II across the finish line first.
Road and Track’s September,1966 Le Mans summary article provided me by The Glen’s International Motor Racing Research Center carefully details teammates Miles and Hulme endurance of 359 Circuit de la Sarthe 8.357 mile laps. 359 Dunlop curves. 359 Mulsanne Straights. 3009.2 race record miles. This car, this very body, engine, transmission, steering wheel; all of it, running 24 hours carrying designers’, engineers’, mechanics’, drivers’, planners’ best efforts, and, for that matter the entire Ford Motor Company itself along with Shelby American, into automobile racing lore. Yet within victory’s view, driver Ken Miles decelerated.
While numerous events celebrating Ford’s supercar winners run this weekend and other times surrounding this anniversary, the real Le Mans 1966 winner wasn’t car #1, GT40P/1015. It was just the fastest. Many thanks to the Larry H. Miller Group for allowing me access to this thoroughbred vehicle.
4 Ford’s GT cars qualified under class GTE Pro. Will Ford recapture Le Mans glory with their newest GT incarnation? Tune in to Fordperformance.tv and watch! Race begins Saturday, June 18, 3 PM local time in Le Mans, 9AM Eastern, 6 AM Pacific, US. Go Ford!
See you at the track.
What do you do with life after winning the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship for GT car makers? Sit around and wait for the competition to catch up to you? Are you kidding me!!? No, just like Porsche, you start the next day, building the next race car. And you ask some of your friends to really fine tune the car during its development. As Marco Ujhasi, Overall Project Manager GT Works Motorsport puts it, “It is definitely unusual to put several drivers behind the wheel at a rollout. But since all of our works drivers are involved in the development of the new car, the ones who could fit it into their schedules came to Weissach and turned a couple of laps.”
Testing and development will continue, not only at Weissach, but other tracks around the world.
Rumors have it that this new RSR will feature improved weight balance due to revised gearbox and engine placements and, of course, other tweaks throughout the platform.
Racing and Porsche fans will see the debut of this iteration of the RSR at next year’s 24-hour race at Daytona. “The race debut of a completely new vehicle at a 24-hour race is a big challenge. But we are right on schedule,” explains the Head of Porsche Motorsport, Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser.
I certainly can’t wait to see what Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser and Porsche have up their sleeve for BMW, Ford, Chevrolet, and Ferrari!
[photo | Porsche]
Hello fine readers!
It’s time, to tell you about a wonderful little event that has been happening in sunny state of Florida for over 60 years.
A little event called, the 12 Hours of Sebring.
That’s right. Twelve hours of racing at one of America’s oldest, and still functioning, race tracks.
This race as seen some of the finest – and not so finest – car companies race there. Ferrari, Ford, Chevrolet, MG, Porsche, Alfa, Chappell, Austin-Healy, Audi, BMW, Dodge, Nissan, Mazda, just to name a few. Even some of the famous names of racing have competed on this famed track. Dan Gurney, Billy Lloyd, Sterling Moss, Phil Hill, Jim Hall, Ken Miles, Bruce McLaren, Jacky Ickx, Mario Andretti, Hurley Haywood, Bobby Rahal, Tom Kristensen, the list goes on and on.
This has turned into a motorsports tradition. One of the “must-go” events, not only for spectators, but for teams. In fact, many of the teams heading for the 24 Hours of Le Mans will use Sebring as a test for the famed French race.
And this weekend’s running should prove to be just as exciting as races of old.
Cars from Lamborghini, Audi, Porsche, BMW, Dodge, Mazda, Chevrolet, Ford, Ferrari, and more will be competing to be the last car standing at the end of the grueling 12 hours.
To watch this event unfold, head on over to IMSA for broadcast details.
Remember, racing starts 3/19 at 10:40am ET!
You can also watch it via streaming on a slew of devices.
And what isn’t a Racing Blip without a link to the handy spotters guide to help keep track of the cars on the track?
And a little video with some of the sights and sounds from testing at Sebring from a few weeks back.
Ladies, Gentleman, kids of all ages. It is time!
“Time for what?”, you ask.
Well fine reader, it’s time for the start of the sports car / endurance racing season here in North America!
BUT WAIT! There’s more!
What if I told YOU that the first race of the season is a race that lasts 24 hours! That’s TWICE around the clock!
“ok..that’s a long time to be in a race car..what if the drivers needs to..”
BEFORE you finish that thought, let me tell you want else is in store for this inaugural race of this WeatherTech SportsCar Championship!
Not only to do have ONE race happening for 24 hours, but FOUR, count ‘em, you have FOUR races happening all at the same time! ON THE SAME TRACK!
“Wait, what? Four races at the same time?? What are these like junker cars or something??”
NO, in fact you have NEW cars from Aston Martin, Lamborghini, Audi, BMW, Corvette, Viper*, Porsche, Ferrari. Let us not forget the purpose built race cars with engines from Honda! Nissan! Mazda! Ford! Chevy!
All built and tuned and itchin’ to go Go GO!
“Wow! So, what you’re..”
WAIT! I have something very special for you, BUT ONLY because I like you!
“YES, Yes! what is it!!??”
The racing debut of the NEW Ford GT, a car so NEW, you can’t even purchase yet!
“But are the drivers any good??”
Are the drivers from F1 good? How about drivers from WEC? Yes? Some of the drivers come from those series and other drivers from ALL over the world come to race in this VERY race! Of course the drivers are GREAT!
Rest assured, you’re in for some GREAT racing from some of the greatest talents on earth and some of the best cars the WORLD has to offer!!
“WOW! How exactly does one watch this and when does it start??!
Funny you should ask! I’d head on over to website of the series, IMSA. HURRY, it starts today (1/30/16) at 2:40pm EST!
And because we like you so much, here’s a handy spotters guide to help keep track of all the action!
*ok..Viper isn’t “new”, but work with me here…