Ford Legends Pavilion Focal Point Of Taupō Historic GP Meeting
The Ford Legends Pavilion will be the focal point of next weekend’s Taupō Historic GP for many spectators and Ford motorsport fans.
20 historically-important and interesting Fords will be based in the Pavilion on display, with some being demonstrated between races and some also racing.
And they include not only Ford racing and rally cars, but also Ford-powered single-seaters including the Shelby Family’s 1984 Ralt RT4/84 Formula Atlantic.
Chassis No. 504, this example of what was undeniably the dominant Formula Atlantic of the 1980s, came from the workshops of British racing car manufacturer, Ralt. It was raced on the West Coast of the USA in 1986 by Patrick Shelby, son of legendary Ford exponent Carroll Shelby.
Shelby Senior’s exploits leading Ford’s famous assaults on sports car racing and the Le Mans 24 Hours in the 1960s were the subject of the 2019 movie, Ford versus Ferrari, with Matt Damon starring in the role of Carroll Shelby.
When Brabham designer, Ron Tauranac sold his interest in the team in 1971 and set up his own single-seater manufacturer, he chose the name of the specials built by him and his brother back in the 1950s in their native Australia – Ralt, an abbreviation of their names Ron and Austin Lewis Tauranac.
Formula Atlantic started in the UK in 1971 and was based closely on the successful US Formula B, developed by the Sports Car Club of America. Formula Atlantic was called Formula Pacific when it was adopted by New Zealand in 1977, by Japan in 1978 and by Australia in 1981.
The Shelby Family Ralt RT4 is powered by a Ford BDD engine, the definitive Formula Atlantic version of Ford’s famous four-cylinder BDA developed by Cosworth. The BDA, originally homologated for Group 2 saloon car racing at 1601cc, had to be reduced in capacity for Formula Atlantic racing but would quickly prove to be the dominant engine. The BDD variant became the engine of choice for Formula Atlantic teams around the world, including those racing in the SCCA series until Toyota took over the series in 1989.
After being driven by Patrick Shelby in WCAR Formula Atlantic Championship races, No. 504 was re-built and sold to an East Coast collector who refused to allow the car to race again because of its important history and value.
The Ralt was brought to New Zealand by a South Island collector 10 years ago and next weekend’s Taupō Historic GP is its first ever North Island appearance.
Driven by Hannu Mikkola to win the Rally of New Zealand in 1979, the famous JB780 was built by Ford at Boreham, England and driven during the 1978 World Championship by Hannu Mikkola, Ari Vatanen and Bjorn Waldegard.
Now fully restored with its original body shell, engine, running gear and interior, it is regarded worldwide as being one of the most original Ford Works Escort rally cars in existence today.
The Mk 2 RS1800 dominated New Zealand rallying through to the 1980s. With the inspired and capable leadership of team principal (and Mason and Porter CEO) Doug Benefield and the engineering input of Ray Stone, who forged a close association with Ford UK’s works rally team at Boreham, the Masport Escort Team attracted a who’s-who of international drivers that included the 1978 WRC line-up as well as Russell Brookes and Pentti Airikkala.
Escorts took three victories in the New Zealand International Rally as well as no less than seven national championships in the hands of drivers Blair Robson, Jim Donald, Paul Adams, Tony Teesdale, Malcolm Stewart and Brian Stokes.
Also on display and being demonstrated next weekend is one of only two surviving examples of the works 1974 RS3100 Cologne Capris raced in the European Touring Car Championship, the racing version of only 248 RS3100 road cars ever built by Ford.
The Essex V6 engine of the RS3100 underwent enormous development by Cosworth for touring car racing, including the fitting of very special aluminium cylinder heads featuring four camshafts and four valves per cylinder. Bored out to 3.4 litres, and with Lucas fuel-injection, these engines (dubbed the Cosworth GAA) produced around 328kW (440bhp).
The car on display in the Ford Legends Pavilion next weekend was purchased by Ford Australia from Ford of Europe for Allan Moffat to race. It eventually found its way to New Zealand and now forms part of the collection of Matamata’s Gordon Burr.
The RS3100 has been the subject of a recently completed, meticulous seven-year re-build and next weekend’s Taupō Historic GP Celebrating Ford is the car’s first appearance in public since January 2013 and its first ever appearance at Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park.
The Taupō Historic GP runs over two-days, 23 and 24 January 2021. As well as races for historic muscle and saloon cars, the event features demonstrations of many historic Ford racing and rally cars, races for Formula 5000, Formula Junior, Historic Sports Racing and other Invited Historic Cars, Historic Formula Fords, Historic Sports Sedans & Allcomers and TraNZams, plus displays of Ford models spanning 60 years of motoring in New Zealand assembled by members of multiple Ford-Owner clubs from around the country.