50-year old race car finally gets its just due

You don’t often see a 3,600-pound 1963 Ford Galaxie 500 participating in any kind of sanctioned race. Even rare is the sight of a Galaxie 500 destroying the competition in a sanctioned race at the 2020 Goodwood SpeedWeek. Driven by 2016 BTCC Championship runner-up Sam Tordoff, the mountain of a Ford tore through a field of classic race cars that included Lotus Cortinas and Mini Coopers as if those cars were battery-operated. It was an incredible display of nostalgic might for a car that, back in its time, was considered too fast for track racing and too heavy for drag racing. More than 50 years after it was launched, the Galaxie 500 finally had its day at the 2020 Goodwood SpeedWeek, and it was glorious to see.

What’s the story behind the 1963 Ford Galaxie 500?

As the world was gripped with all the excitement surrounding the “space race,” automakers like Ford tried to hitch their wagons — no pun intended — on the hoopla

. The Blue Oval came out with the Galaxie, a full-sized sedan with variations that doubled as race cars, competing in races in the U.S. and Europe to mixed success.

The Galaxie 500 was a high-spec version of the nameplate, and while it was a fast race car, it was also completely unreliable. Either the Galaxie 500 won a race or it conked out after experiencing a breakdown. That was the legacy of the massive Ford sedan, and yet, the nameplate lives on to this day in special races like the one that took place at the 2020 Goodwood SpeedWeek.

Was the 1963 Ford Galaxie 500 one of the starts of Goodwood SpeedWeek?

Watch a Ford Galaxie Kick Major Ass At 2020 Goodwood SpeedWeek
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It probably was and for good reason. A trio of 1963 Ford Galaxie 500s showed up to compete in the event’s highly-competitive St. Mary’s Trophy races, including the No. 99 Galaxie 500 that was driven by 2016 BTCC Championship runner up Sam Tordoff. Looking like an American monster that was sent to swallow up period-era rivals like the Lotus Cortina and Mini Cooper, the No. 99 Galaxie 500 had an interesting run of races at the event. The car was forced to retire from the first race after problems with its 7.4-liter V-8 engine. That retirement caused Tordoff to start the second race from the tail end of the starting grid, and that’s when the magic started.

Watch a Ford Galaxie Kick Major Ass At 2020 Goodwood SpeedWeek
- image 943690

With over 20 cars in front of him, Tordoff went Super Saiyan.

From the back, it took the racer only 20 minutes and change to pass more than 20 cars in the race. It was a demonstration of skill that was aided by a V-8-powered sedan that was not only faster in the straights than any car it was competing against but handled well enough to cut through corners without losing any of its speed.

The whole spectacle was captured on video by the event’s organizers. The video runs for a little over seven minutes. But it’s seven minutes worth of overtaking, skillful driving, and a retroactive flex for a 57-year old sedan that finally got its due as a race car.

Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert - kirby@topspeed.com
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read More
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