Last year, Ford shook up the racing world with an announcement of its return to 24 Hours of Le Mans with the brand-new Ford GT. What had history-nerds gasping in shock and squealing with anticipation?

Exactly 50 years ago, the Ford GT40 mk. II (after only three years in development!) became the first American automobile to win 24 Hours of Le Mans, smashing through Ferrari's six-year-long winning streak and taking first, second, and third place in a complete lock-out of the competition.

"The iconic 1-2-3 finish at Le Mans was probably the defining moment in Ford's race history," said Bill Ford, Executive Chairman of Ford Motor Company.

So what would happen when Ford came back, shiny new GT in hand? Would it be an embarrassment to the legacy, or would history repeat itself?

The race, which ended on June 19 after a grueling 24 hours, was tense. The No. 82 Ferrari held the lead, then lost it to the No. 68 Ford GT, then passed it again. The historic rivals dueled it out for dominance for an entire day, until in the 20th hour, the No. 68 Ford GT passed the No. 82 Ferrari one final time, and held its lead until crossing the finish line as the overall winner for the Le Mans GTE Pro Class.

"We dared to dream that we could return to Le Mans, 50 years after the incredible 1966 win, and take on the toughest competition in the world," said Bill Ford. "The pride we all felt when the Ford GT crossed the line at Le Mans is indescribable. The team that designed, built and raced the Ford GT has worked tirelessly to bring us to this result and I am proud of each and every one of them. The Ford Chip Ganassi Racing team demonstrated the spirit of Ford, that of innovation, determination and true teamwork. We cherish our history and heritage, but today we made history again and I couldn't be more proud."

Find sporty and dynamic new Ford vehicles for sale in Cedar Rapids at Zimmerman Ford, and celebrate 50 years of motorsports history.

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