In addition to the "Blue and Orange" exhibition at the 24 Hours museum (26 May-23 September), tribute will be paid to the 50th anniversary of Gulf Racing Team's first victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in a ceremony tomorrow, Friday 15 June.
The "Blue and Orange" exhibition celebrates this anniversary as well as the legacy of one of the greatest team owners in the history of the 24 Hours. After giving Aston Martin its only win at Le Mans (1959), John Wyer (1909-1989) won three more times with his own team, JWEA (John Wyer Engineering Automotive), sponsored by Gulf Oil (1968, 1969 and 1975), the origin of the famous sky blue and orange livery.
While the exhibition focuses mainly on cars from the Wyer era (Ford, Mirage), the 1990s are also represented by the Kremer-Porsche CK8 prototype from 1994, the McLaren F1 GTR from 1996 and the Porsche 917 Gulf repainted in Martini Racing's colors, property of the museum. Posted bios describe the respective journeys of the four men who led the team (Grady Davis, John Wyer, John Horsman and David Yorke) and a few top drivers from the 1960s and 1970s, including six Le Mans winners: Pedro Rodriguez, Lucien Bianchi, Jackie Oliver, Jacky Ickx, Derek Bell and Vern Schuppan. Let us not forget Steve McQueen whose film "Le Mans" ended in a Porsche 917 Gulf victory..only in the movies!
On Friday 15 June, Gulf will return to Chartre-sur-le-Loir, a town in France about 50 km from Le Mans, where it was headquartered in the 1960s and 1970s. John Wyer's technical director, John Horsman, will be in attendance for the celebration. After Ford GT40's two wins in 1968 and 1969, he finally looked to the Porsche 917 that would become the ultimate weapon in endurance racing in 1970 and 1971, but Gulf Racing never did make it to the top step on the podium at Le Mans. The day will end with a parade of Gulf cars from Chartre-sur-le-Loir to the 24 Hours circuit.
Fifty years after the first "blue and orange" win at Le Mans, the legacy continues on the track. This year, #86 Porsche 911 RSR (in LMGTE Am) will sport the livery and Gulf logo at the 24 Hours, as will United Autosports and Win Motorsport (#23 and #49 Ligier JS P3-Nissan in LMP3) at the two Road to Le Mans races.
PHOTO (Copyright - Sebastien Bassani/ACO): At the 24 Hours of Mans, Gulf Oil's logo figures prominently in the garage of the #86 Porsche entered in the Super Season of the World Endurance Championship (FIA WEC).