Superior Essex has a rich history in auto racing, starting from the 1965 Essex Wire Shelby Cobra to today’s Xfinity series number 14 Superior Essex Toyota Camry. Each car that Essex built has experienced success both on the track and off, as a treasured piece of racing memorabilia. Both originals and replicas of these vehicles can be seen today in museums throughout Indiana, North America and Europe.
Superior Essex Xfinity Series #14
For 2017 Superior Essex has sponsored the #14 Toyota Camry for the NASCAR Xfinity Series. The car is driven by JJ Yeley, based out of Phoenix, AZ. This year has seen consistent top 20 finishes for JJ with improving results. He is currently ranked 15th in the series.
1965 Essex Wire Ford Shelby Cobra
In 1965, in an effort to compete with Ferrari, Chevrolet and Porche on the US national circuit, Ford developed the Shelby Cobra racecar for the US racing circuit. Essex jumped at the opportunity to sponsor the car and crew that year and the Essex Wire Shelby Cobra was created. Dick Thompson was the original driver with crew chief Ray Heppenstal. Nicknamed “Olie the Dragon”, in 1965 the Essex Wire Cobra placed 4th in the US Road Racing Championship and went on to win at Riverside and Daytona taking home the National Championship that year. Today the original cobra has been restored and resides in Torrance, CA. It can be seen at car shows throughout the year. A replica of the Essex Wire Cobra can be seen at the National Automotive & Truck Museum of the United States (NATMUS) display in Auburn, Indiana.
1965 Essex Wire Ford GT40
With the success of the Shelby Cobra in the US Circuit, Essex Wire turned its attention to the international racing circuit by sponsoring the two Essex Wire Ford GT40s, driven by Skip Scott, Ken Miles, Dick Thompson, and Peter Revson. For two seasons in 1965 and 1966 the GT40s placed top 20 for most races, with 3rd place finishes at the Texas Special Race Nassau and the Sebring 12 Hour Race and a 2nd place finish at the Monza 1000 Kilometres. Today the Essex Wire GT40s reside with collectors in the UK and near Pittsburgh, PA. The Essex Wire red stripe and color scheme continues to be one of the most popular paint schemes for GT40s.
1965 Essex Wire Ford Shelby GT350
In May of 1965, Ned Owens, a friend of Essex Wire driver Skip Scott purchased a GT350 from Shelby American and gained sponsorship through Essex Wire. Over the course of that year Ned raced the Shelby throughout the Northeast. In October of that year Ned Owens placed 4th in the SCCA Regional Reading. Later in 1981, after changing hands a number of times, Rick Kopec bought the GT350, restored it to its original state and began racing it in vintage races in 1989. Today the Essex Wire GT350 continues to race and attend Shelby events throughout the US.
Contribution to Racing and Formula E
Essex wire has contributed to the success of auto racing through its role in starters, ignition coils and alternators. Formula E brings the magnet wire contribution to the forefront with high horsepower electric motors. Essex wire provides magnet wire to a number of the Formula E race cars today and will continue to drive more in the future.
Essex Cobra images courtesy of André Ahrlé. Formula E racing images courtesy of FIA Formula E Championship.