FORD VS. FERRARI BATTLE EXPECTED IN 12TH ANNUAL GLEN CONTINENTAL WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- The Ferrari vs. Ford rivalry from the Sixties is being repeated this year in the International Motor Sports Association's Exxon World Sports Car...
FORD VS. FERRARI BATTLE EXPECTED IN 12TH ANNUAL GLEN CONTINENTAL
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- The Ferrari vs. Ford rivalry from the Sixties is being repeated this year in the International Motor Sports Association's Exxon World Sports Car championship, and will take center stage at the 12th running of the Glen Continental during the June 23-25 NASCAR-IMSA Weekend at Watkins Glen International.
A pair of Rob Dyson-entered Fords take on two Ferrari teams in the three hour event, which takes the green flag at 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 24. The event also includes the IMSA Exxon GTS-1 and GTS-2 classes. The new IMSA Ferrari Challenge makes its first visit to the Glen at noon on Saturday. Sunday's schedule features the Lysol 200 NASCAR Busch Grand National event, plus the IMSA Street Stock, SCCA Barber Dodge and USAC U.S. Formula Ford 2000 Championship.
Two decades ago, Ford took on Ferrari for superiority of major sports car endurance racing. It took time, but Ford came through with four consecutive victories (1966-69) in the 24 Hours of LeMans. Today, the rivalry continues. Ferrari is the car to beat in the Exxon World Sports Car championship, with the Ferrari 333SP winning its first five races after its introduction last year, including the 1994 Glen Continental. Ferraris have also won three of five races this season, and take a two-race winning streak to the Glen.
Representing the marque of the Prancing Horse are a pair of bright red cars with entries filed by two different teams. Defending Glen Continental winner Gianpiero Moretti returns in his Momo Ferrari 333SP, with a new co-driver, '94 World Sports Car champion Wayne Taylor. Taylor is coming off his first WSC victory at Lime Rock. The Scandia team, which won races at Sebring and Halifax, have a pair of well-known European veterans, '94 LeMans winner Mauro Baldi of Monaco and two-time C2 world champion Fermin Velez of Spain.
But the Fords are coming. Rob Dyson unveiled a Ford-powered Riley and Scott Mark III in Daytona at the beginning of this season. While the car had electrical problems in Daytona and Sebring, James Weaver drove it to victory in its third race, at Road Atlanta. Butch Leitzinger then placed second at Halifax and Weaver took a very close runner-up at Lime Rock. Now, Dyson is looking to give his new car its first endurance victory at the Glen. He entered cars for both Weaver and Leitzinger, with the Poughkeepsie communications magnate as co-driver.
"I think our overall package is coming together nicely," Dyson said. "Remember, Watkins Glen will be only the sixth race for the car. It's ironic that everybody is expecting so much from us -- and the car is only five races old!
While the Fords and Ferraris are favored in the Exxon World Sports Car competition, Oldsmobile will field a strong four-car effort. Fredrik Ekblom of Sweden joins Italian Ruggero Melgrati in the Harry Brix Olds Spice which Jeremy Dale drove to a second place finish at the Glen last year, while Rick Sutherland drives the Apple Power Macintosh entry. A third Oldsmobile-powered Spice will be driven by Bobby Brown, with Lee Payne and Brian Williams co-driving a brand new car, an Olds-powered Riley and Scott Mark III.
Other WSC entries in the Glen Continental include the Screaming Eagles Lexus Spice for racer/actor Craig T. Nelson, Dan Clark and Ross Bentley; a pair of Kudzus for Leigh Miller, with Chevy and Buick power; and a converted Indy car with Pontiac power for Californian Rod Bennett.
Qualifying for the Glen Continental will be held on Friday. For ticket and camping information, call (607) 535-2481. J.J. O'Malley/Watkins Glen International