For 1969, Ford began offering contingency money to rallyists who won or placed second or third with the new Mustang Mach 1. New Jersey-based accomplished rallyist Ed Crockett approached Ford with an idea for a national team, and Ford was in. The plan prescribed five individual teams based around the country to give Ford maximum coverage without the cost and logistics of transporting one team to all national and divisional events.
In Michigan, a separate group led by Gene Henderson, a Dearborn police officer and successful rallyist, proposed a similar plan to Ford. Henderson had run the Rallye Monte Carlo, Shell 4000 Trans-Canadian Rally and Michigan’s Press on Regardless Rally (P.O.R.) and also had a rally equipment company, Competition Limited.
“Gene and I put together a program for Ford to do national rallying, and Ford said yes,” recalls Ralph Beckman, Henderson’s fellow member in the Rallygators sports car club. “We later found out the New Jersey team had asked for a lot more money and got it!”
Prior to the Ford rally program, Beckman had won the Shell 4000 in 1968 with Chrysler engineer Scott Harvey in a Plymouth Barracuda. The duo also won the P.O.R. several times, before and after the Mustang program. Beckman is today involved with the Subaru Rally Team USA, and he also drives in European historic rallies in a 1967 Barracuda.
Crockett’s operation became the official “Ford Rally Team,” with Mach 1s painted Meadowlark Yellow. Henderson’s Dearborn-based group campaigned under his “Competition Limited” banner with Wimbledon White Mach 1s.
there were 15 or 16 events, including one-day divisional rallies. You had to do three out of five nationals and four out of six divisionals to do the championship.”
In addition to Ford winning the SCCA Manufacturer’s Championships in 1969 and 1970 with the Mach 1, the individual teams also did well. The Bohls won the Class A Championship in 1969, and Wieman and Rekus took it for 1970; Gezon and Chidester won the Class B Championship in both years.
Ford dropped the Mustang rally program after 1970.
only one of the cars has been found,” says Gezon, referring to the Jones/Brown 1969 428 CJ Mach 1 that sold at a Barrett-Jackson auction in 2013 for $53,900.