Ford v Ferrari v history – the 10 silliest moments in Le Mans ’66

Ford v Ferrari v history – the 10 silliest moments in Le Mans ’66 26th November 2019

Seen the recently released film on the 1966 Le Mans 24 Hours? If not, we recommend it – both for the racing thrills and the fierce debate with your friends afterwards, as to the film’s most ludicrous errors and generally daft moments. It’s a sort of onscreen ‘spot the difference’ game.

We’ve been trying to select our favourite corkers but it’s hard to narrow them down. How about, in reverse order of sheer silliness…

10. Full marks to the filmmakers for picking Ken Miles as the unlikely hero: Brummie accent and a huge nose aren’t the usual Hollywood fare. That said, Christian Bale is no stranger to prosthetic make-up (Dick Cheney in Vice), so while it’s not exactly a mistake, it’s disappointing that Miles’ onscreen nose isn’t in the same league as the real Teddy Teabag’s awe-inspiring schnozz. And where’s his trademark duffel coat and woolly hat? Pff.

9. The film’s plot hinged on Ford’s refusal to let Miles go to Le Mans in 1965; instead, he was left in the California workshop, listening to the race on the radio. But of course he was there in 1965, sharing the drive with Bruce McLaren (they retired after 45 laps).

8. Carroll Shelby betting his whole business, Shelby American, on Miles winning at Daytona? Come off it…

7. Hang on, aren’t they going the wrong way round Willow Springs?

6. Tertre Rouge is, according to the film, “a first-gear corner”.

5. It was famously raining at the end of the ’66 Le Mans 24 Hours – bright sunshine in the film.

4. True, the film showed a few laps in torrential rain, at which point Miles suffered red-hot discs and catastrophic brake fade… in standing water?

3. Every blockbuster needs heroes and villains, but poor old Leo Beebe, senior manager at Ford, was portrayed as a slimy villain who plotted Ken Miles’ downfall. Not fair on the late Beebe and his family; he was a staunch supporter of the race programme.

2. What was all that about Ken Miles’ lap record on the penultimate lap, just before he slowed for the famous three-car finish? Dan Gurney got fastest lap that year (at 3:30.6, more than a second quicker than Miles) and Gurney’s car retired after 18 hours.

1. And finally: changing down at 200mph on the Mulsanne to overtake? While Miles and the Ferrari driver exchange long scowls through their side windows, the scenery rolling gently past? It makes Thunderbirds look positively realistic. In the words of a K500 subscriber with extensive Le Mans history: “Why are they going so SLOWLY?”

Don’t get us wrong, we enjoyed the film enormously and look forward to seeing it again. And not only to pick up more gaffes to cackle over in the bar afterwards; it’s genuinely exciting.

Please do go and see it, and do drop us a line at info@k500.com with your favourite in-film blunders. We’re bound to have missed a few dozen.

Photo by TCD/Prod.DB / Alamy