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Ford v Ferrari movie review


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#1 rvec

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Posted 17 November 2019 - 10:03 AM

Ford V Ferrari is a dramatization of the events leading up to the 1966 LeMans race. If you are expecting an accurate and complete history of the GT40, you may be disappointed. However, the movie is an action packed spectacle with some great racing scenes. If you are a car buff, the movie is certainly worth seeing.

 

Note: If you are interested in learning the complete story of the GT40, I would suggest two resources. First, the book entitled “Go Like Hell” by A. J. Baime. Second a documentary available on DVD entitled “24 Hour War”

The movies’ main characters include Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon), Ken Miles (Christian Bale) and Leo Beebe (Josh Lucas). The movie is more about the characters than the car.  Even so, the development and racing scenes are compelling and the exhaust notes are ear piercing and accurate.

 

 

In the movie, Leo Beebe is made out to be a villain who holds a personal grudge against Miles and robs him of the win in the 66 LeMans race. In my research and reading, there is no evidence of such a personal vendetta.  Also, it will likely never be known whether it was Henry Ford II, Leo Beebe or others that made the decision to stage a “dead heat” finish. Nor is it clear that any of the Ford executives were aware of the rule that stated that in the event of a dead heat finish, the car that started farther back on the grid (the McLaren/Amon GT40) would be awarded first place even though the Miles/Hulme GT40 led the race until the very end. In reality, Leo was a long time Ford employee and confidant of Henry Ford II. They served in the Navy together. Leo, a consummate problem solver was put in charge of Ford’s racing efforts. He was a tough and goal oriented task master.

 

 

In the movie, Ken Miles is portrayed as a volatile hot head and maverick that put his own ambitions over the best interests of the Team. It is true that Miles was somewhat of a Maverick that would not suffer fools but the portrayal is way overblown. In addition, in the movie, Miles, Shelby’s top driver is pulled from the LeMans race (presumably in 1965) by Leo Beebe. This is absolutely false. When Shelby American took on the task of developing the GT40 after the 64 season, Miles was an integral part of the development effort and raced in both the 65 and 66 events.

 

 

In the movie, Shelby is portrayed as the smooth talking Cowboy that he was. Since Ken Miles was never pulled as a driver by Ford brass, all of the scenes depicting Shelby fighting for Ken’s return as a driver are also pure fiction.

 

The movie does not chronicle the concept, design and development of the GT40. It makes no mention of John Wyer and his great contribution in the early development effort nor his role in the production and homologation of the GT40 MKIs. The movie does not give credit to Roy Lunn in the development of the MKI, MkII and MKIV chassis or to the Ford design team in developing the original body shape.

 

 

Although the movie gives some credit to Phil Remington including his design of the quick change brake system (including rotors), Phil’s contributions are far more wide reaching. Phil was part of the Shelby organization and took the lead as development engineer late in 64. He was instrumental in solving the overheating problems encountered in the early GT40 prototypes and worked tirelessly on improving the car. After the tragedy of the fatal crash of the J Car, Phil and a small team of engineers redesigned the car on the fly in a wind tunnel and in a matter of three weeks. Voila, the MKIV body was born. The MKIV went on to win LeMans in 67 in no small part due to the efforts of Rem.


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#2 Ramcatlarry

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Posted 17 November 2019 - 10:33 AM

AMEN


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#3 Tim Neja

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Posted 17 November 2019 - 03:31 PM

Typical Hollywood--- over dramatization of NON-factual information.  Seems it's not worth the price of a ticket!  I'll wait for TV


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#4 W. J. Dougherty

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Posted 17 November 2019 - 03:52 PM

The other major thing that was left out is that it was a 3 car effort on Shelbys part and Ken Miles was only 1 of 6 drivers. In the end it was a Shelby car that won the 1966 race...
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#5 sportblazer350

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Posted 17 November 2019 - 07:46 PM

just saw the movie, and i wondered what was true and what was fiction. however, is was filmed well and made for a good story, and over 2 hours long. It is worth he tip to see it. I would see it again. Gran Prix, LeMans, and this movie make for a great set of 1960's racing movies. and there are some slot car scenes throughout the movie- Ken Miles son playing with a 1/32 scale Strombecker set.  


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#6 rvec

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Posted 17 November 2019 - 10:17 PM

After the LeMans debacle in 65 where not a single GT40 finished, Ford brass laid down the law; Win LeMans in 66 or else. For the 66 season Holman Moody and Alan Mann Racing would join Shelby American as Factory teams. For the 66 LeMans race Shelby American and Holman Moody were each assigned three MkIIs while Alan Mann Racing was assigned two MkIIs. See below for details
Shelby American Teams
  • Miles/Hulme
  • McLaren/Amon
  • Gurney/Grant
Holman Moody Teams
  • Bucknum/Hutcherson
  • Bianchi/Andretti
  • Hawkins/Donohue
Alan Mann Racing Teams
  • G. Hill/Muir
  • Whitmore/Gardner
Several private teams entered the 66 LeMans race as well. The table below shows the finishing order of all teams

LeMans66Results.jpg


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#7 rvec

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 11:24 AM

just saw the movie, and i wondered what was true and what was fiction.


Glenn,

It is too bad that the movie did not stick to the facts. The actual story about the 66 LeMans race is fascinating in and of itself and it certainly did not need to be dramatized. For those not familiar, read on.

Prior to the event, John Cowley (A Ford Lieutenant working for Leo Beebe as coordinator for the 66 race), had a meeting with Ford Team leaders and drivers alike. He laid down the ground rules for the race.

• Engine rev limit would be set at 6200 RPM. This was high enough to propel the MkIIs to about 213 mph down the 3.7 mile Mulsanne straight. The true rev limit was about 7000 but the lower figure was chosen to save the motors and yet be quick enough to out-do the Ferraris
• The drivers were warned to conserve the brakes (an Achilles heel of the relatively heavy GT40 MKIIs)
• There would be no racing between Ford Factory cars
• Each team would follow orders as relayed through pit signage
• Each driver team was then assigned target lap times for the early part of the race.
• The rabbits would be Gurney/Grant (lap time 3:37) and Miles/Hulme (lap time 3:39)

Ferrari provided some pre-race drama. The Works team original plan was to have John Surtees go out as their rabbit and try to break the Fords. The story as told by Surtees is that the team manager, Dragoni, insisted that Scarfiotti, Surtees’ teammate should start the race instead of Surtees. Dragoni told Surtees that it would be nice for Gianni Agnelli (Fiat CEO), who was in attendance, to see nephew Scarfiotti start the race. The protracted disagreement escalated and Surtees, arguably the best of the Ferrari drivers, summarily quit the team. That was a real blow to the Ferrari Team.

At 4:00 P.M. HFII dropped the flag and the field thundered off. The Mk IIs driven by Graham Hill, Dan Gurney and Ronnie Bucknum led the first lap with the Ferrari 330 P3 driven by Mike Parks fourth. Although a good start for the Fords, all was not well.

The first lap also provided some unwelcome excitement for one of the Holman-Moody Mk IIs. On the Mulsanne straight, the Mk II driven by Hawkins (P1032) suffered a driveshaft failure at a speed in excess of 200 miles per hour. Hawkins managed to gather the car up and return to the pits without further incident. The repair took about seventy minutes. In addition, Ken Miles, driving one of the Shelby Mk II entries (P1015) failed to secure the driver’s side door. Ken was forced to pit at the end of lap one to properly secure the door, dropping him to forty-second place. Problems continued for the Mk IIs as at the end of lap two, Whitmore driving one of the Alan Mann Racing Mk IIs (XGT-1) pitted with brake problems.

The fastest of the Fords began making their initial pit stops about an hour and a half into the race. The pit crews were as well prepared as the cars as brakes, tires, and oil were checked while fuel tanks were topped off. The pit stops had been well rehearsed and went off with military precision. Miles was first to pit, then Gurney. Neither reported problems with their Mk IIs or their Goodyear tires. It is interesting to note that because of McLaren’s relationship with Firestone, his MK II was fitted with Firestone rubber. McLaren was next to pit and complained about his tires. He could feel the track tearing up the rubber. Upon inspection, crew members observed that the Firestone tires were, in fact, chunking. McLaren and his co-driver, Chris Amon conferred with Shelby. Valuable minutes were spent and finally it was decided to swap out the Firestone tires with Goodyear rubber. Those wasted minutes would prove critical in the closing hours of the race.

Only a few hours into the race Ford lost two Factory Mk II entries; P1032, driven by Hawkins/Donohue (differential problems) and XGT-1, driven by Whitmore/Gardner (clutch problems). In addition, the Comstock, Mk I driven by Rindt/Ireland succumbed to engine failure.

As the clock ticked to the four hour mark it was Mk IIs 1-2-4-6. The lead car was none other than P1015 driven by Miles/Hulme which had spent time in the pits at the end of the first lap in order to secure the driver’s side door. In the process of chasing down the leaders, Miles had set a new course record of 3:34.3 then lowered that record to 3:31.9. Gurney was not to be outdone. He lowered the record again to 3:30.6. The Gurney/Grant Mk II (P1047) and the Ginther/Rodriguez Ferrari P3 were also on the lead lap in second and third respectively. One lap down was the Mk II of McLaren/Amon. Next was the Ferrari P3 of Bandini/Guichet followed the by the Mk II of Hill/Muir. The GT40s traded the lead with the Ferraris as pit stops came and went.

A bit later, the Mk II (P1031) driven by Bianchi/Andretti went out with a blown head gasket. Then at about 10:30 P.M. the Hill/Muir Mk II succumbed to suspension failure. The factory Mk II entries had been cut by half to four. Then about an hour later, the Chaparral began having electrical problems and was ultimately forced to retire. Shortly after, the Scarfiotti Ferrari plowed into an accident involving two other vehicles and was forced to retire.

At midnight the Fords were 1-2-4-5 with Ferraris 3-6. Then at 2:30 A.M. the Rodriguez Ferrari which was running fourth at the time retired. Within another hour the only two other Ferraris capable of putting up a fight suffered lengthy pit stops putting them virtually out of contention. Also retiring during the night was another GT40 Mk I (P1001) driven by Neerspach/Ickx.
At 4:10 A.M. Miles brought the lead car into the pits. The car had been driven very hard stressing the braking system. The rotors were shot. Thanks to a quick change rotor system, the front rotors and pads were swapped out and the car was back on the track after only a few minutes.

At 6 A.M., Fords held the top six spots; Shelby Mk II cars 1-2-3, and the Holman-Moody Mk II (P1016) driven by Bucknum/Hutcherson in fourth. The four Mk IIs were followed by the Mk Is of Essex Wire (P1038 – Scott/Revson) and SAI Filipinetti (P1040 - Sutcliffe/Spoerry). Unfortunately the Essex Wire car soon succumbed to engine failure and the Sutcliffe/Spoerry later crashed out of the race.

At 7:34 A.M. the Miles/Hulme Mk II was back in the pits; this time to swap out the rear rotors. Again the procedure went smoothly and the car was back out on the track in a matter of minutes, albeit in second place behind the Gurney/Grant Mk II. In third place was the McLaren/Amon Mk II. The Bucknum/Hutcherson Mk II retained its fourth place position.

A few minutes after 9 A.M., the Gurney/Grant Mk II entered the pits. The car was over-heating. The problem was traced to a radiator leak. Incredibly bad luck for Dan; the car was forced to retire. At this point there were only three Fords still running, all Mk IIs. In first place, it was Miles/Hulme; in second place, it was McLaren/Amon; and in third place it was Bucknum/Hutcherson. Porsches were running fourth through sixth but too far behind to challenge the Mk IIs.

With the race well in hand, word came down from the Ford top brass, that for public relations purposes, the three Mk IIs would be staged to finish together. Miles, who was ahead, was directed to slow his pace so that the second place Mk II driven by McLaren/Amon could close. Both cars were on the same lap as they approached the finish line. The third Mk II, several laps down, driven by Bucknum/Hutcherson joined the procession. When the checkered flag dropped, the first and second place cars were deemed to have finished in a dead heat. The organizers scored the McLaren/Amon as the winner citing a rule that in case of a dead heat, the car that started further back on the grid would be the winner having covered more ground over the twenty four hour period.
 


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#8 Danny Zona

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 11:42 AM

I don't think many people went to see a movie made by Hollywood for entertainment and profit would expect a documentary type of movie.

IMO.
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#9 Dave Crevie

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 12:33 PM

Exactly. A sign of how our society is turning. They could care less about the historical accuracy. For me, just seeing a

film with racing scenes rather than futuristic war and explosions is a big deal. 



#10 Howie Ursaner

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 12:39 PM

Its a movie. Its supposed to be fun to watch. Its a miracle that it was made and it is incredibly entertaining. It is thrilling to see this played out on the big screen or IMAX. To say it is not worth seeing because it is not to the letter or off the mark is a joke. You are the loser if you dont see this movie in the theater as it is as good as it will ever get if you love the story and car racing. You can keep your self righteous attitude and sulk in your corner.


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#11 Half Fast

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 01:09 PM

Amen Howie! The movie got very favorable reviews in unexpected places like the NY Times and Wall Street Journal. It is not a documentary and you should not expect it to be, nitpicking the differences is waste of time. Enjoy it (or not) for what it is.

 

Cheers


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#12 rvec

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 02:46 PM

Amen Howie! The movie got very favorable reviews in unexpected places like the NY Times and Wall Street Journal. It is not a documentary and you should not expect it to be, nitpicking the differences is waste of time. Enjoy it (or not) for what it is.

 

Cheers

 I agree. It is entertainment. Lots of action


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