Artomobilia All Weekend
Writer // Janelle Morrison
Photography // Anthony Ross Tyler, Submitted and Ford Chip Ganassi Racing
The annual Carmel Artomobilia event has boasted one of the most eclectic gatherings of original period-correct automobiles anywhere, including Supercars, Exotic, Sports Cars, Classics, Racers, Historically Preserved, Indiana Built, Sedan/Coupe and more. The event brings an estimated 20,000 spectators and enthusiasts from throughout Indiana and surrounding states into the heart of the city of Carmel. The event’s organizers and sponsors are celebrating the 11th year of this remarkable display of automotive ingenuity and design.
This year’s Artomobilia will take place one entire weekend in August, beginning with Fuelicious Friday, August 24 and Artomobilia Saturday, August 25. It concludes with the newest event, “SHIFT,” on Sunday, August 26.
Saturday’s Artomobilia will feature more than 400 enthusiast and collector cars representing more than 26 classes, including Super Car, Exotic, Classic, Sports Car, European, Domestic, Vintage and Racers on the streets of Carmel in the Arts & Design District.
While these are not formally judged, they represent the best examples of what is going on in national and local car clubs as well as provide a great opportunity to see firsthand how you can participate in the car hobby. This year, Artomobilia will feature the heritage of Ford Performance, specifically the Ford GT. Bring your families and friends to this remarkable event and enjoy several decades of automotive ingenuity!
Ford GT Commemorates the 1966/2016 Wins at Le Mans
This year, the Artomobilia team had an incredible and historic opportunity to capture an iconic image of three generations of the Ford GT in both race trim and road models. With the assistance of the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Team, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, members of the Artomobilia Alumni and renowned photographer Anthony Ross Tyler, these images were captured, representing decades of Ford Performance.
“John’s been associated with the company for a while,” said Mike O’Gara, team manager at Ford Chip Ganassi Racing. “We’ve provided show cars for Artomobilia in the past to be on display. He reached out this year with the idea of highlighting Ford and the GT in particular, and we’re happy to be a part of it.”
O’Gara spoke about the historic photo shoot and Ford’s reason for redesigning the Ford GT.
“Ford’s point of bringing back the GT [in 2016] was to commemorate the 50th anniversary of them winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the first time in 1966,” O’Gara said. “That was the inspiration for both the race car and the road car. Most race cars that are designed are based on production cars. This [Ford GT] is pretty special because the race car was designed first. It’s been adapted to run on the road. The sole purpose of this latest version of the GT was a tribute to Ford’s heritage and success at Le Mans that goes back to the 1960s when Ford wanted to compete head-to-head with Ferrari and some of the other makes at Le Mans. It’s been very special for us and the Ford family, and we were lucky to put these race cars together and start racing them in 2016. We didn’t have a successful early portion of the season here in the States, but we packed up all of our stuff and went to Le Mans and managed to win on our first attempt since Ford’s first Le Mans win 50 years ago.”
A 50-year rivalry between Ferrari and Ford was rekindled in 2016 at Le Mans. The No. 68 Ford GT of Sébastien Bourdais (FRA), Joey Hand (US) and Dirk Müller (GER) crossed the finish line at Le Mans at 3 o’clock on Sunday as the overall GT winner of the 2016 Le Mans 24 Hours. The No. 69 Ford GT of Ryan Briscoe (AUS), Scott Dixon (NZ) and Richard Westbrook (GB) joined the winners on the podium after scoring third place. The Nos. 66 and 67 Ford GTs finished in fourth and ninth places, respectively.
Bill Ford, executive chairman at Ford Motor Company, said in a statement released by Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Team after the victory at Le Mans, “This is a historic moment for the Ford Motor Company. We dared to dream that we could return to Le Mans, 50 years after the incredible 1966 win, and take on the toughest competition in the world. The pride we all felt when the Ford GT crossed the line at Le Mans is indescribable. The team that designed, built and raced the Ford GT has worked tirelessly to bring us to this result, and I am proud of each and every one of them. The Ford Chip Ganassi Racing team demonstrated the spirit of Ford, that of innovation, determination and true teamwork. We cherish our history and heritage, but today, we made history again, and I couldn’t be more proud.”
O’Gara reflected upon that historic day. “It was a big day,” he expressed. “Bill Ford, Edsel Ford II and Henry Ford III were all there to celebrate the win with us, which was massive. We didn’t even understand how big it was until it happened. Since then, we’ve won the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Indianapolis 500, Daytona 500, Brickyard 400 and 12 Hours of Sebring. Obviously, winning Le Mans was the biggest and not just for Chip Ganassi Racing and all of our guys but for the Ford family and Ford fanatics everywhere. People come out to the race tracks and are amazed. They just want to touch the car and be near the race cars, which is pretty cool. I’ve worked in IndyCar, NASCAR and other series almost my whole life but never with a program that has this much heritage and enthusiasm from the company, the manufacturer and the fans as well. To bring all of these cars together at our shop and celebrate that [heritage] for Ford was a pretty cool thing to be involved with.”
When asked what prompted Chip Ganassi to become involved with Ford and race the GT, O’Gara replied, “Le Mans was another goal post for Chip Ganassi the individual and the company as well. It was another race that was on his bucket list as both a racing fan and team owner. When Ford approached us with the idea of doing it, he said, ‘Let’s go for it.’ He didn’t see any reason why we couldn’t go over there and why we couldn’t win. And we managed to do it. He’s the only guy in history that’s won all of those big races. It set him in a different class from some of the other car team owners out there.”
One Rare Car and a Comedy of Errors
Car collector and aficionado Gary has been showing cars at Artomobilia for the past several years. Most of Gary’s exquisite collection is kept overseas, and he transports them to the U.S. for different occasions. The very first car that he exhibited at Artomobilia was a 1974 BMW 2002 that was awarded first place in the German Sports Class. “I entered it, and it beat all those fancy Porsches and all of those other cars,” Gary said. “Last year, I brought a 1967 Shelby GT500.”
A collector of Jaguars, Gary explained that he’s had a history with Ford going back to his childhood as his family members were “Ford people.” “I was in London, and a friend and I went to the National Motor Museum. He [my friend] said I had to see a car down there. We drove down to Beaulieu in Hampshire [England], and off in the corner was a 1968 Ford GT Mk III of which there are only seven in existence. The museum didn’t own it, so I traced the woman who owned it, and she and I began talking about the car.”
Over a period of two years and a several details later, Gary convinced the woman to sell him the car.
“I had finally convinced her to sell it,” he said. “I had to fly into Paris to take her to dinner before she finally agreed to sell me the car and agree upon a price. I keep a bank account in England, and my bank wired money to my Barclay’s account in London. The bank wired it to the wrong account. We met in her lawyer’s office, and I didn’t have any money in my checking account over there. Then I found out that she didn’t actually own the car. It was in her husband’s estate, and he had passed.”
After sorting through the convoluted details, the two shook hands and agreed that once Gary’s check cleared, the title would be cleared and released to him.
“Once I received the title, I had the car dismantled and put back together,” Gary said. “It had been sitting for 35 years, but it only had 5,000 miles on it. That is the brief version of how I ended up owning this car.”
A Fun and Easy Car to Drive
The re-release of the Ford GT was advertised during the 2004 Super Bowl game. Eric, a Carmel resident, recalled it was that very commercial that caught more than just his eye; it caught his interest in the new Ford GT.
“I became fascinated with it [Ford GT] to the point that I wanted to own one when I saw the reintroduction of it,” Eric said. “One of the Super Bowl ads showed a Ford GT winding through the road, and it was exactly like the one that I ended up buying – red with white stripes. It [the car] became a target of something to acquire, and once I rode in my friend’s Ford GT (he lives here in Indianapolis and is also a car collector), I was really hooked.”
Eric has been attending Artomobilia since before it became the renowned show that it is today held in Carmel.
“I have attended and shown cars with this group when it was held on the canal in downtown Indianapolis and before it was Artomobilia as it is known today,” he said. “Then it moved up to Carmel, and I’ve participated every single year. Artomobilia is an extremely large show that has a wide range of cars, and it’s the number of makes, styles and classes that are grouped and shown that is one of Artomobilia’s strongest assets in comparison to the many other shows that I’ve attended and/or participated in.”
Eric has had a lifelong passion for cars and collecting that began as soon as his foot hit the gas pedal of his very first car.
“I’m a young 75-year-old gentleman, and my wife and I have been married for 50 years,” he proudly shared. “My wife knew when she married me that cars would be a part of our long-term relationship. I bought my first car the day that I got my driver’s license at age 16. I had already saved up my money, and I’ve been buying, selling and upgrading cars ever since.”
Eric explained what makes his 2015 Ford GT such a pleasurable road car to drive.
“In terms of its driving capability, it’s a manual shift car, and it is absolutely fabulous to drive,” he enthused. “It is easy to drive – easy clutch and easy to shift. It just makes all the right sounds and has the right appearance from any angle, and if you want absolute raw power, it’s there on the other end of the continuum.”
The Passion behind the Power
Don, a Carmel resident and an owner of a 2017 Ford GT, is a life-long automobile appreciator and his car was one of the five featured in the iconic Ford GT photo shoot.
“My car is the blue Ford GT with silver stripes in the front center of that photo,” Don said. “It’s a current generation road car. We [local Ford GT owners] were invited to part of this photo shoot and John [Leonard] said that based upon his research, there isn’t a single photo anywhere with all three generations of Ford GT represented.”
Don moved to Detroit as a kid and grew up in the “car culture”. After college, Don went into the automobile industry and appreciating cars and attending car shows has been a long-time hobby of his.
“I’ve always been a car fan for as long as I can remember,” Don said. “I wasn’t able to have fine automobiles growing up. My first car was a ‘71 Ford Torino that cost me $250 and I overpaid for it. I have two college-age boys and a statement that I made to them several years ago that has stuck is ‘To me it’s not a material thing [appreciating cars]. It’s all about a community’. Whether that’s Artomobilia which I think is a fabulous example of that sense of community or your local ‘cars and coffee’ meet up where all of the stripes are checked at the door. It doesn’t matter if you have a million dollar car or a thousand dollar car that you’re passionate about-there’s passion and energy around the automobile.”
Don became fascinated with the legacy of Ford Performance, specifically with regards to the Ford GT.
“The heritage behind the GT, Henry Ford and Enzo Ferrari, and Ford beating Ferrari in ’66 setting out to do it again fifty years later was attractive to me,” he said. “What was also attractive to me was the opportunity to own one of these cars from a short production run. I like sharing the car and that’s one of the reasons why I wanted to help John with the photo shoot. I feel a bit of an obligation being an owner of the Ford GT and Ford wants us [Ford GT owners] to drive the cars and show the cars. I’m keen to make sure that it doesn’t just sit away wrapped in plastic-it’s a car that is meant to be enjoyed.”
For a complete list of events and times, visit artomobiliaweekend.com.