80 years ago today, Vic Elford was born. As his success in racing grew, the nickname “Quick Vic”, given to him by friends and competitors alike took on new meaning. As one of the few drivers to excel in sports cars, rally cars, and Formula 1 at a championship level. His lap recordsinclude Targa Florio, Nurburgring, Daytona, Sebring, Norisring, Monza, Road Atlanta, Laguna Seca, Riverside, and Le Mans – where he was the first driver to lap at over a 150mph average in the Porsche long-tail 917 in 1970.
The 1968 Season
Elford’s ’68 season began by winning the prestigious Monte Carlo Rally in a Porsche 911, followed by an overall win the next weekend in Daytona at the Rolex 24 Hour race – Porsche’s first 24-Hour race victory. He finished second at the 12 Hours of Sebring a month later, then in May scored an epic victory at the Targa Florio, considered the greatest win in Targa history. Two weeks later Vic won the Nürburgring 1000 Kilometers. Then in his first F1 race in July, Vic took an out-classed Cooper to a stunning fourth-place finish in the soaking-wet French Grand Prix.
More on “Quick” Vic’s ’68 Targa Florio Win
Despite beginning the second lap of the ten-lap, 450 mile race more than 18 minutes behind, Vic and co-driver Umberto Maglioli came back to win the 1968 Targa Florio with their Porsche 907 by over a minute. In recognition of his efforts, Porsche dedicated their traditional victory poster not to the car, but to the driver for the first and only time.
He’s A Knight Of The National Order Of Merit
I think it’s a testament to Vic’s character that you never hear him tell this story. We see Vic at lots of events and while his tales are always entertaining and harrowing, this one simply never comes up. At least not by him. During the 1972 24 Hours of Le Mans, when a Ferrari crashed in front of him, Vic stopped mid-race to try to extricate the driver from his burning car. Television cameras caught the action and Vic was named “Knight of the National Order of Merit” or Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite by French President Georges Pompidou for his act of courage and heroism.
If you’ve never had the chance to meet Vic in person, you can do so this September at the upcoming Rennsport Reunion V, September 25-27, 2015 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca