Pete Epple Technical Editor
June 1, 2009
Photos By: Greg Jarem
Model: Tara Froysland

In April of 1963, Ford Motor Company took serious action to prove itself in the racing world. After a failed attempt to purchase Ferarri, Ford set out to beat the Italian auto maker in the biggest race of them all. The endeavor found such names as John Wyer, Roy Lunn, Carroll Shelby, and Bruce McLaren collaborating with the sole purpose of building a supercar strong enough to win on the world stage at the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans. One short year later the GT40 was born.

Although its first attempts in early '64 were met with disastrous results, the engineers and drivers pushed through adversity and ultimately made history. Legendary drivers A.J. Foyt and Dan Gurney also found success in the GT40, solidifying the car as an American racing icon. Ultimately Ford won the coveted race every year from 1966 to 1969.

The popular blue and orange colors of the Gulf livery GT40s will also go down in racing history: The Gulf colors were on many of the GT40s, and then other winning racecars. The iconic paint scheme holds so much tradition that Ford offered the blue and orange scheme as a special Heritage option on the '06 Ford GT to commemorate the First/Second/Third finish at the '66 Le Mans 24-hour race. The Gulf Blue and Coral Orange colors are an instant reminder of the dominance of the GT40 in the late '60s.

Ricky Wilson of Lusby, Maryland, is an avid Mustang enthusiast, and his 2008 Shelby GT500 is proof that Ford's racing heritage lives on. The dominance of the GT40 is a large part of the inspiration behind Ricky's Shelby, and massive power coupled with perfect driveability is the ideal recipe for dominance on the street.

The powder-coated Corral Orange valve covers tie the Gulf GT40 theme into the engine bay.

"I first started looking into the GT500s when Kenne Bell made 800 rwhp," Ricky tells us. "I thought it was amazing it could do that with the stock engine." The GT500's uncanny ability to make copious amounts of power prompted Ricky to sell his supercharged C6 Corvette and get behind the wheel of a Shelby. While it was originally white with blue stripes, Ricky knew what treatment his GT500 would ultimately get. "I love the Gulf colors and though it would be cool to do a GT500 like that. It's like the car Ford should have built," he states. It took less than a week for him to jump in with both feet, and street dominance was right around the corner.

Knowing the stock powerplant didn't have the grunt to satisfy him, Ricky turned to Justin Burcham of JPC Racing and the wheels were set in motion. Burcham installed aftermarket upper and lower pulleys, JLT cold-air intake, and Bassani axle-back race exhaust, as well as a single-blade throttle body to add more excitement. After loading the tune, his Shelby spun the rollers to a healthy 580 rwhp.

Sitting atop the 5.4L modular monster is a huge 3.4L Whipple supercharger. The twin-screw huffer force feeds 22 pounds of boost into the Ford powerplant.

Still not satisfied with the GT500's output, they took performance to the next level. Mike Curley of Curley Engineering went to work on the rear end, welding the axle tubes and adding a set of 3.73 gears and a Ford Racing differential cover. A set of Shelby Razor wheels and Nitto tires were also installed, taking the looks of Ricky's Shelby to the next level. In the search for even more power, a call to Evolution Performance netted Ricky and his GT500 an Eaton TVS supercharger, along with an Afco heat exchanger to breathe some extra life into this already stout street machine.

With the help of a few friends, the Shelby was ready to spin the rollers once again. Keeping the stock upper pulley for the base tune, the force-fed 5.4L screamed its way to an evil 666 rwhp. Knowing this was just scratching the surface of the TVS' potential, Evolution quickly installed the 2.6-inch blower pulley, and output jumped to 700 rwhp. As the power level began to push the limits of the stock fuel system, Evolution added 72-pound injectors and a Kenne Bell Boost-a-Pump. The newest round of mods yielded a final result of 720 rwhp and 710 lb-ft of torque.