For many Ford fans, the creation of the Ford GT40 and its 1966 Le Mans victory is one of the most significant moments in the company’s history. Enraged over being spurned in his attempts to purchase Ferrari, Henry Ford II made it his mission to beat the Italian marque at the most significant sports car race in the world.
After dismal results in 1965 and 1966, a new plan was created. The 289 CID V8 powered Ford GT40 Mk I would be entered by secondary teams, while Shelby American and Holman & Moody entered the new Ford GT40 Mk II with its 427 CID side-oiler V8. The Ford turnout was massive; there were a total of 14 GT40s entered in the 1966 race among six teams. But it was Carroll Shelby who delivered Ford its first Le Mans victory that year, backing it up with another win in 1967 in the Mk IV. JW Automotive Engineering took over the program with Gulf Oil support and won the ’68 and ’69 races in a GT40 Mk II, as the Mk IV was no longer eligible due to a rules change. But that’s a story for another day. Back to 1966.
As 84% of the US population wouldn’t actually remember the race (if they were even paying attention) it’s great news for the rest of us that the battle has been recreated on film and will be shown in theaters beginning on November 15.
The film, ‘FORD v FERRARI’ (their punctuation, not ours), is an adaptation of A.J. Baime’s non-fiction novel Go Like Hell: Ford, Ferrari, and Their Battle for Speed and Glory at Le Mans. The book tells the remarkable story of how Henry Ford II devised his plan to break Ferrari’s choke-hold on its most important race, with the help of a young visionary named Lee Iacocca, engineer Roy Lunn, and the matchless Carroll Shelby.
Directed by James Mangold, the movie stars Academy Award-winners Christian Bale as Ken Miles, the Shelby test driver and racer who helped develop the Ford GT40 Mk II, and Matt Damon as Carroll Shelby.
It depicts the rogue racing program and shows the battles of corporate interference, the laws of physics, and personal demons Miles and Shelby encountered as they designed, built, and raced a car that could beat Ferrari at his own game during the most prestigious and brutal race in the world—something no American car had ever done.
‘FORD v FERRARI‘ is scheduled to be released on November 15, 2019, in 2D, IMAX 2D and Dolby Cinema, by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures under the 20th Century Fox banner.