The Superformance GT40 is a South African recreation of the famous machine which Ford first took to Le Mans in 1964. Almost two-thirds of the new car is identical to the original. This kit car is cleverly sold without a powertrain—a tactic to avoid emissions and crash standards it does not meet—and will, when all the remaining necessary parts are added, set the new owner back a good $125,000. However, after watching Jim Pace tear through the track, the price tag becomes irrelevant.
It uses a modified 351 cubic inch engine feeding about 500 horsepower and 450 lb-ft of torque to a RBT version of the five-speed ZF transaxle. Predictably, it’s quite quick in a straight line, and the 2,450-pound machine can apparently snag 11.2 in the 1/4-mile. However, who cares about drag performance when a car handles as sweetly as this?
In Pace’s hands, the monstrous powerplant seems tractable. Why is that? It may have something to do with Pace’s favorite word: smooth. The recently deceased racer was a celebrated endurance racer whose mechanically sympathetic style helped him. Listen and rejoice at this man’s measured style hustles a car like this around a fast and dangerous track. His effortless style makes it seem like as if he designed the track himself.
Rarely do we see a flick of countersteer or a locked brake, but the car always seems to keep moving forward. This is because he relies more on his intimate understanding of the nuances of a track than sheer chutzpah—and probably needed have a long career hustling brutally fast vintage cars around the track for more than twenty years.
We lost Jim Pace last year to COVID-19, but his humor, passion, and talent live on through his sizable collection of YouTube videos and stories around the paddock.