SPEEDWAY, Ind, – When the Henry Ford Museum decided to conserve its 1965 Indianapolis 500-winning, Jim Clark Lotus-Ford 38/1, the car was carefully worked on to make sure it remained as original as possible.
Forty-six years later, thanks to Firestone Racing, the last piece of the conservation is complete as Firestone today presented Henry Ford Museum with a special set of replica “Indy” tires that will be on the car when it makes a historic return to the track as part of pre-race ceremonies for Sunday’s centennial running of the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race.
Al Unser Sr., one of only three men to have won the Indy 500 four times, will be behind the wheel of the car when it takes a historic lap of the Speedway on Sunday. The Lotus-Ford 38/1 was chosen to represent the 1960s era of cars.
The Clark Lotus-Ford 38/1 is considered a paradigm-changing car in Indy racing history, becoming the first rear-engine winner, and a car that was purpose-built to win Indianapolis. That would be the only race in which this Lotus would compete.
“Being steward of this car at Henry Ford Museum has been an incredible journey for us,” said Christian Overland, Executive Vice President, The Henry Ford. “We had the chance to reinvent history and bring this historic car back to life by conserving it, using all of the original materials and all the original parts.
“This is one of the most important racing artifacts in the world. It was one car, one driver, for one race. And it went and dominated, leading 190 of 200 laps. This is why we consider it the world’s greatest Indy racing car and a treasure of The Henry Ford. We can use it to tell future generations how to innovate using this as a model.”
Part of the innovative nature of the car was the tires that Firestone provided for the race. They were specially-built for the car, and went the entire 500 miles without having to be changed. In order to make the car’s conservation authentic and complete, Firestone Racing worked with Coker Tire to produce the replica tires from that era.
“We uncovered some of the original drawings of the 1965 Firestone ‘Indy’ tire and Corky Coker’s group based the remanufactured tire molds from them,” said Al Speyer, Executive Director, Firestone Racing. “They did an amazing job in producing the replica tires that look so much like the originals. To be able to outfit this history-making race car with the Firestone tires on this historic centennial anniversary weekend here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is something very special for us.”