If you don’t follow motor racing, you might not have heard of Dario Franchitti’s brother, Marino. If you love sports, however, you are well aware of his accomplishments.

His latest gig puts him at the center of the reintroduction of the Ford GT to sports car racing. Franchitti is one of four drivers who will drive Chip Ganassi’s foray into the FIA ​​World Endurance Challenge and its flagship event, the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.

“When I was a kid, the reason I wanted to be a racing driver was to win Le Mans,” Franchitti told USA TODAY Sports on Wednesday by phone from Scotland. “I definitely think this program is my best chance for that to happen so far. I can’t wait to start the season and start preparing for the big race in June.”

Ford is bringing the iconic GT back to sports car racing this year to accompany sales of the latest generation of the car’s production model, a 600-hp, $500,000 carbon-fiber supercar aimed to rival Ferrari and Lamborghini . Only 1,000 copies of the 2017 model should be produced.

By the end of the 1960s, the Ford GT40 had become one of the most successful cars in sports car history, winning Le Mans four times in a row, including a one-two in 1966.

“You connect with cars sometimes – it works for you,” Franchitti said. “The new Ford GT was like that. The EcoBoost engine was the one we used to win Sebring before (in 2014) so ​​I knew the powertrain. But to put it in a nice body and new chassis and all the things incredible mechanicals and the aero and the gearbox, it just blew me away. It’s so nice, so well balanced.

While Dario Franchitti won three Indianapolis 500s and four IndyCar championships, Marino Franchitti amassed an impressive resume. He finished in the top two in his class in five of the six 12 Hours of Sebring – from 2008 to 2014 – including overall victory in 2014.

He also took three Petit Le Mans victories at Road Atlanta and competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans five times, with a best-in-class ninth in 2010.

AT THE DRIVING: Bourdais ready for the IndyCar season, Rolex 24

Ford Ganassi Racing is also gearing up to race the GT in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, with Ryan Briscoe, Joey Hand, Dirk Müller and Richard Westbrook set to share driving duties for two full season entries. The season opener, the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway, is scheduled for January 30-31.

Franchitti will be joined by Stefan Mücke, Olivier Pia and Andy Priaulx. The WEC season opens April 17 in Silverstone, England. The series will make a US stopover in September, with an event at Circuit of the Americas in Austin.

Follow Olson on Twitter @jeffolson77

Previous

Paralyzed driver Michael Johnson switches to sports car racing

Next

Mercedes-AMG could have a big presence in American sports car racing next year

Check Also