Photographer: Ker Robertson/Getty Images
Photographer: Ker Robertson/Getty Images

50 Years of Ford at the 24 Hours of Le Mans

This year endurance racing's crown jewel event was as dramatic as ever: In torrential rain, and with Brad Pitt giving the official race start, Porsche clinched the overall title after Toyota lost the lead minutes from the finish Sunday afternoon. Audi took third, defending its record of a podium spot every year since 1999. And the No. 68 Ford GT run by Chip Ganassi Racing took a class win exactly 50 years after Ford's 1-2-3 finish at Le Mans in 1966. It was a lot to take in.
Ford vs. Ferrari
Ford vs. Ferrari

In the 1966 edition of the race, the Ford GT40 made an unprecedented clean sweep of the podium. The race is historic because it was the first time an American brand had won the French race. 

Source: Ford Motor Co.

Clean Sweep
Clean Sweep

Ford Chief Executive Henry Ford II (in the suit) stood atop the podium after the 1966 whitewash by the iconic model, the GT40. It secured first, second and third place. The wins installed Ford as a global player in the sports car market. 

Photographer: Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Early McLaren
Early McLaren

Bruce McLaren guides the car around the Mulsanne hairpin turn in 1966. The New Zealand native went on to inspire the McLaren Racing Team, which has been one of the most successful in Formula One championship history.

Source: Ford Motor Co.

Dynamic Duo
Dynamic Duo

The year 1967 saw the American driver team of Dan Gurney and AJ Foyt victorious in the GT40 Mk IV. This was an important follow-up to show that the wins in 1966 were not just dumb luck.

Source: Ford Motor Co.

Another Win for Ford
Another Win for Ford

Pedro Rodriguez of Mexico and Lucien Bianchi of Belgium drove the JW Automotive Engineering Ltd. Gulf Ford GT40 to victory in the 1968 edition of the race. It was another victory for the by-then formidable Ford racing teams. 

Photographer: Rainer W. Schlegelmilch/Getty Images

Racing Stars
Racing Stars

The Belgian-British duo Jacky Ickx and Jackie Oliver gave the GT40 its fourth consecutive win in 1969. Ickx and Oliver are some of the most iconic racing drivers to ever live. 

Source: AFP/Getty Images

Ford's Best
Ford's Best

The modern-era Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT powers around the Circuit de la Sarthe this month. Ganassi's team runs the Ford cars produced by Ford Motor Co.

Photographer: Ker Robertson/Getty Images

Wet Conditions
Wet Conditions

This year's edition of the race saw drivers face misty conditions, and at time torrential rain, out on the track. 

Source: Drew Gibson/Ford Motor Co.

Hard Workers
Hard Workers

The pit crew works around the clock to keep the Ford GT at peak performance. The race runs for 24 hours, from Saturday afternoon to Sunday afternoon; the fewer pit stops the better. 

Source: Drew Gibson/Ford Motor Co.

Through the Night
Through the Night

The No. 66 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT navigates the track during the night. Each car has three drivers that take turns driving for roughly two hours at a time for the duration of the race. 

Source: Ford Motor Co.

Final Run
Final Run

Dirk Mueller drives the No. 68 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT across the finish line to secure victory in the LMGTE PRO category of the 2016 Le Mans.

Photographer: Jean-Sebastien Evrard/AFP/Getty Images

Adoring Fans
Adoring Fans

Celebrations begin for the Ford GT.

Source: Drew Gibson/Ford Motor Co.

The Champs
The Champs

William Clay Ford Jr. celebrates on the podium with drivers Sebastien Bourdais, Joey Hand, and Dirk Mueller after winning the LMGTE PRO category.

Photographer: Jean-Sebastien Evrard/AFP/Getty Images