To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Ford’s historic victories at Le Mans, Microsoft’s Xbox hardware team has built a trio of one-off Xbox One controllers sporting iconic livery taken from the blue oval’s triumphant race cars. The controllers were unveiled by Forza Motorsport 6 developer Turn 10 Studios and put on display at this year’s running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which preceded a visit to Los Angeles for E3.

The controllers come bearing the same colors and number designations found on the famous racing Fords. Included is a blue and white No.26 design that gives homage to the 1964-1965 Shelby Daytona Coupe that took Bob Bondurant and Dan Gurney to a first place finish in the GT class (fourth overall), a first for American drivers. Next is the black and gold No.2, which is inspired by the 1964-1969 Ford GT40 driven by Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon that (barely) took overall victory in 1966, alongside two other Fords for a clean 1-2-3 sweep. Finally, there’s the red and white No.1 controller that gives a nod to the Mk.IV GT40 driven by Dan Gurney and A.J. Foyt that managed to fend off the Ferraris for overall victory in 1967.

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Why it matters

The new controllers and 50th anniversary coincide with a slew of interesting developments for Ford, most notably the announcement that starting next year, the automaker will once again return to endurance racing with its new GT supercar. Ford will offer a race-spec version to compete in the LM GTE-Pro class, with a full-fledged factory-effort consisting of two teams and four cars operated by Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates. The Fords will take part in both the FIA World Endurance Championship (of which the 24 Hours of Le Mans is a round), and the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship (of which the 12 Hours of Sebring is a round).

It calls up memories of a rivalry between Ford and Ferrari that stretches back five decades to the winning cars these controllers are modeled after.

Although the Italian marque failed to get the win in the GTE-Pro class this year, Ferrari’s presence at Le Mans can’t be underestimated, with no fewer than 16 prancing horses making it onto the final race results list.

That makes Ford’s return to the sport big news indeed. It calls up memories of a rivalry between Ford and Ferrari that stretches back five decades to the winning cars these controllers are modeled after. 

The story goes that in the ‘60s, Ferrari was struggling to build road cars, but was performing flawlessly in motorsport. Meanwhile, Ford wanted to increase its production, but lacked appropriate performance creds. A deal was struck between the two makes that would see Ford buy out Ferrari. However, the deal was a ruse to shore up a competing buy-out offer from Fiat, and Enzo pulled out on Ford at the last minute.

To help back this effort, Ford has made extensive partnerships with Microsoft and the Forza Motorsport team.

Henry Ford II was livid, and decided to beat Ferrari at its own game. At the time, Ferrari had won Le Mans six times, with back-to-back victories between 1960 and 1965, which meant Ford wouldn’t be satisfied until achieving victory over Ferrari at the iconic event. Ford bought up Lola and developed the GT40, eventually triumphing over the prancing horse on its home continent. 

It’s this history that makes the new GT so important to Ford. What’s more, the brand is offering a slew of new performance vehicles, such as the new 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350, 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor, 2016 Ford Focus RS, and 2014-2015 Ford Fiesta ST, which means the halo GT will need to prove its worth as bearer of the famous moniker. 

To help back this effort, Ford has made extensive partnerships with Microsoft and the Forza Motorsport team, giving the game developers exclusive access to the vehicle to help solidify its position as Forza Motorsport 6’s box-art star.

According to a report from MustandAndFords.com, the blue oval gave Microsoft unprecedented access from the beginning of the GT’s conceptual phase, including CAD data and physical access, lending a high degree of realism for gamers. What’s more, FM6 will feature the famous Circuit de la Sarthe, home to the 24 HOLM, in laser-accurate digital recreation. 

It’s all part of the recent Ford offensive to lend the brand even more sporting associations. 

FM6 hits Xbox One consoles in September. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a Ford Performance Car Pack DLC, including a race version of the new 2016 Ford GT Le Mans contender, drop just after the new year. 

2017 Ford GT

2017 Ford GT High Resolution Exterior
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Source: mustangandfords

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