Eric Dean and the GT40
Eric Dean is an internationally-awarded designer who designs, builds and races vintage race cars. His DVR GT40 was designed as a tribute to the Ford Racing legend.
"I have been waiting patiently for all that time to ride in his GT40. Yesterday it finally happened."
Eric Dean has lived up the street from me for nearly three years and I have been waiting patiently for all that time to ride in his GT40. Yesterday it finally happened. After 20 minutes of securing cotter pins and cleaning dirt, he turned the key and I immediately understood why he doesn’t drive this car more often… It’s louder than a full-scale aerial assault. Neighbors on all sides ran for shelter as we left the driveway. I could feel their disapproval emanating from behind locked doors and closed curtains and figured that it could not be the car they feared or us, for that matter… The only thing that could scare them this much was the immeasurable amount of fun we were about to have.
"We had to move quickly before the sun dropped behind the mountains to our west. After finding a suitable canyon, we took a couple minutes to choreograph our shots…"
I would be directing and shooting from one of Eric’s motorcycles. I usually like to have a bit more rehearsal but I really trust Eric’s driving - as a retired racer, he knows how to handle a car. Furthermore, I knew he would not risk hitting me on his own motorbike. Our dance began on the first straight – I started from the driver’s side with a ¾ lead… Eric hesitated (only for a couple of miles) to really run the car up to my rear tire but as soon as I motioned him closer he nearly eliminated any space between us. It occurred to me then, dancing these two machines through the desert was a truly special and unusual event (the brief expressions from oncoming traffic was priceless)… and in this dance I realized how impossibly low this little car sits from ground level – it is in fact where the car gets its name… the “40” meaning 40 inches from the ground to the top of the car. Not until I saw Eric looking up at me from the driver’s side window did I realize the scale of this vehicle. I had to lean hard and low off the bike to hold my camera at his eye level. Half way through the first pass I moved to the outside of the road and Eric closed me in for a ¾ lead from the passenger side. I was shooting backwards directly into the sun so I stopped my camera down but tried to keep the shutter speed between 1/60 and 1/120 (this blurs the road and the background to create the feeling of speed and direction). The outside of the highway was rough with potholes and covered in sand, so I sped up and moved back to the center line as soon as I had the coverage. We turned around after 10 miles and this time I put the car directly between the setting sun and me.
"Chasing the GT40 is an entirely different experience. It’s like chasing an angry swarm of hornets. Any tiny adjustment to the accelerator is an explosion of power.”
Chasing the GT40 is an entirely different experience. It’s like chasing an angry swarm of hornets. I couldn’t even hear the Harley I was riding… and what’s more, you start to understand what a handful this car really is. Any tiny adjustment to the accelerator is an explosion of power… It is either fully on or fully off. Eric was doing a fine job of handling it. I pulled up to his window again and he looked up with a huge smile. Clearly we were both having fun. I sped in front and motioned for Eric to speed past me. We did this several times before traffic picked up from the oncoming lane. We had 15 minutes of light left so I parked the bike and jumped in the GT40. I barely fit. It’s a good thing Eric and I are small guys… getting in the seat felt something like trying to jam a sunflower seed back in its shell. Now that I was off the bike and in my harness, Eric turned on the fireworks a bit. The acceleration pressed me into the seat. There was joy in my face as my smile increased with the speed. I was shocked to find the car was just as loud (if not louder) from the inside; but not in a bad way… I could hear the tune of the motor perfectly without the interference or wind. Eric was, of course, always listening… He flipped some switches on the dash and I could hear a fan turn on. We raced through the corners like they were not even there. This was the lowest and fast I had ever felt the road. The sun dropped behind the mountains and I thanked Eric for the ride… three years was definitely worth the wait.
Todd Blubaugh was born and raised in McPherson, Kansas. His earliest interests were in art and motorbikes and since the age of 12, Todd has been pursuing these two passions. He currently works in film, writes, shoots, and pursues collaborations with his roommates at The Chun, a motorcycle warehouse and art space in Los Angeles. The free-spirit artist shares his passion for open roads through aspirational imagery and poetic travel notes that resonate with Serengeti’s DNA.