Legends of the 9 Hour

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A Celebration of 50 years of racing Ford Mustangs…

The Ford Mustang associations and clubs will no doubt be celebrating in 2014 as the year that the iconic Ford Mustang was born. Zwartkops will pay tribute to some seven very special racing Mustangs on the 1st February – “The Passion for Speed Festival”.
The Ford Mustang was the brainchild of the “Young Turks” a group of Ford Motor Company US design team rebels under the leadership of one Lee Iacocca. The result was the original and too many the ultimate “Pony Car”. The young Turks wanted power, four on the floor, and something totally different to what their parents perceived as a motor car. They also wanted too express their desire to be different from previous generations. This generation was also extremely adventures, they had money, education and jobs. The “bean counters” at Ford were very sceptical and Lee Iacocca was threatened by Henry Ford II to be more than “fired” if the product failed. His sales target was 100 000 units in the first full year 1965. The Mustangs were introduced in late 1964 to dealers amidst a huge publicity and TV program.

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When the Ford Mustang first hit the dealerships it nearly caused a riot “the greatest thing to come out of Dearborn since the 1932 V8 model B roadster”. Ford totally miscalculated the markets response – Mustangs sold some 680 000 in the first year! Waiting lists! – Americans do not like waiting lists and four factories had to be commissioned to produce the Mustang! What shook the US motoring establishment was not only the young generation who wanted this performance car but their parents were also in the market! A production car with four seats but styled as a sports car. The great pony car boom was born!
General Motors Chrysler, American motors all had to follow suite to capture this market. Ford never meant for the Mustang to be a competition car until ex Californian chicken farmer and ex world renowned sports car racer Carroll Shelby came along and turned the Mustang into a formidable racer. Shelby was already close to Ford after shoe-horning Fords small block V8 into a British AC roadster which was not only as a racer but a street rodder. The AC Cobra was not nearly as practical and versatile as the Mustang. Once Shelby sorted the brakes and suspension the Mustang became an unbeatable production car racer in the USA – Trans-Am, Europe and in every other country track racing took place.
Whilst Shelby is accredited with racing Mustangs- Alan Mann (UK) put the Mustangs on the map in Europe with his success in both racing and rallying. There was nothing to touch the Mustangs which become an embarrassment to the works Lotus Cortina’s.
The Mustangs made their racing debut in South Africa in December 1965 at the Rand Grand Prix. Ford SA replaced the semi-works Lotus Cortina’s, which had been beaten by the Olthoff Ford Galaxie in 1965, with two Mustangs for Basil van Rooyen and Koos Swanepoel. Basil won the South African Saloon Car Championship in 1966 and 1967. Ford gave the Swanepoel Mustang to John Love for 1967 who despaired with the car as he could not believe that Koos could have raced such on ill handling car! Mike de Udy and Frank Gardner raced a 1970 Boss Mustang in the 1971 Kyalami 9 Hour.

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In the Legends of the 9 Hour Series for the Pre-1966 Production Car the Mustang are still the cars to beat and are represented with some magnificent examples, Franco Scribante’s orange Mustang, the white Mustang of Ferdi van Niekerk and Thomas Falkiner, and one that is closest to actual car that van Rooyen won his championships, Brian Rowlings cream and green striped no 176. There are also two Mustangs in the Trans-Am Series, Ben Morgenrood’s maroon stripped number 9 and then Mark du Toit’s blue 1969 fast back – arguably the best proportional Mustang of them all. There are also another two racing Mustangs under construction and should be ready to celebrate 50 years of Mustang by mid-year.
For the International on the 1st of February there will be two Mustangs from Europe, two Trans-Am Mustangs and three Legend Mustangs amongst Franco Scribante, Ferdi van Niekerk Jnr from Cape Town and then the Thomas Falkiner – Sunday Times entry.
Our South African Mustangs are a fitting tribute to the great icon of motoring history of some fifty years ago.
Tickets are sold by Computicket for: Adults R160, Students R100, Kids U12 free. Or buy tickets online from the Zwartkops website.
Gates open from 06h00 on Friday 31st January 2014 and Saturday 1st of February 2014.
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