Fair-haired, blue-eyed Alan Mann was at the vanguard of British entrants in the 1960s. With their red flanks, gold roofs and Ford oval on their noses, they won race after race, at home and abroad. It’s small wonder that drivers beat a path to his door.
This racer turned Ford dealer fancied running a Lotus Cortina in 1963 and was drawn into the Ford web, being invited to help launch the Cortina Stateside in a 12-hour race. From there, Alan Mann Racing ran Ford’s Falcons on the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally, with 12 cars and a budget of £1m. Despite Bo Ljungfeldt being fastest on every stage, he ended up second after handicapping.
Next up was a jaunt to Goodwood for a clandestine testing session for the yet to be launched Mustang. However, 1965 was the year that made Alan’s team as Sir John Whitmore landed the European Touring Car title in its Lotus Cortina, with a sideline running Carroll Shelby’s tilt at the World Sports Car Championship with his Cobra Daytona Coupes.
At the same time, AMR was helping to develop Ford’s GT40, yet Alan was put off by Ford ‘taking more top brass than mechanics’ to the Le Mans 24 Hours. Aussie king of the one-liner Frank Gardner then landed two British Touring Car titles, in an AMR Falcon in 1966 then an Escort in 1967. Moving on from the GT40, the team helped Ford with its F3L sports-prototype, but its beauty wasn’t matched by reliability and Alan sold the team to Gardner when Ford slashed its budget in 1969.
AMR re-emerged in 2004 and has been entertaining historic racing fans ever since with its red and gold Cortinas, Escorts and Galaxies. Alan died in 2012 and his sons Henry and Tom are now in charge of the show.
The Alan Mann Trophy is a race for for Ford GT40 Mk1s of a type that raced pre-1966 at the 74th Members’ Meeting.
Images courtesy of Alan Mann Racing and LAT