Mr. Le Mans, as Tom Kristensen is affectionately known, had to begin this romp at the back of the pack after his Thunderbird stalled on the parade lap. That didn’t dampen the Dane’s spirits; within a few laps, he had passed eight cars.
Though the gargantuan Thunderbird seemed out of place against Alfa GTAs, Ford Cortinas, Austin A40s, and other nimble machinery, it had more than enough to carve through the pack—though some of its strength must be attributed to the man behind the wheel.
Disadvantaged in the braking department, Kristensen had to bide his time, avoid mistakes, and try his best to transfer the power to the pavement as cleanly and early as possible. Therefore, he cajoled this Bill Shepherd-prepared Thunderbird into the corner, and matted the throttle as soon as possible to try and capitalize on the power available.
With a rear end made from period-correct parts and a stock steering box, applying that power early required constant armfuls of countersteer. In fact, it would be more appropriate to say he was steering with the rear and doing his best at keeping it somewhat tidy—though that term is used lightly here; the Thunderbird spent as much time going sideways as it did anything else.
Unfortunately, too much wheelhop and a brush with the barriers loosened the Thunderbird’s exhaust and forced an early retirement. However, what this committed charge showed is the man’s versatility; give this guy a vehicle—thoroughbred prototype or massive sedan—and he will find a way to get it to the checkered flag first.