Vic Elford – an extraordinary all-rounder
There are some racing drivers who are fast everywhere. One of the best examples of such all-rounders is Vic Elford. In one year, he won the Monte Carlo Rally as well as the Targa Florio and scored a point at the Monaco Grand Prix.
At Vic Elford’s home in Florida, a poster hangs on the wall in clear view. The distinctive head of the British racer can be seen under the lettering. At the top: ‘Classifica Assoluta’ and at the bottom: ‘1. Elford Maglioli 907’. The Porsche logo appears at the bottom of the poster in all modesty. That is quite extraordinary – the sports car manufacturer from Zuffenhausen normally promotes its victories more aggressively. In this case, though, the driver is very much in the foreground. It is a clear message: The driver won this race, not the racing car. ‘I’m incredibly proud of that,’ says the Brit half a century after his great victory at the Targa Florio in Sicily in 1968.
In this race, which is part of the Manufacturers’ World Championship, Vic Elford lost a rear wheel from his Porsche 907 three times in the first lap, which cost him 18 minutes. He cast aside all thoughts of a victory, but he was determined to record the fastest lap on this difficult 72-kilometre circuit. With three laps to go, Nanni Galli and Ignazio Guinti, driving for Alfa Romeo, had a three-and-a-half-minute advantage over the Porsche 907 with starting number 224. On the last lap, Elford took the lead.
1968 was to be Vic Elford’s most impressive year in racing. In January, he won the Rally Monte Carlo in a Porsche 911 S. A few weeks later, at the Formula One Grand Prix in Monaco, he finished sixth with a somewhat inferior Cooper Maserati. Narrow stretches came naturally to him. This was clear at the 1,000-kilometre race at the Nürburgring, which he won with a Porsche 908 in 1968, 1970 and 1971. But even on the high-speed track in Le Mans, Elford only just missed out on victory. In 1971, Vic Elford and Gérard Larrousse led for 21 hours in the Porsche 917 long tail. A defective clutch housing then deprived the pair of their win, which had been so close in sight.
Elford retired from racing in 1973.