by Cindy Summers
FORD v FERRARI is based on the amazing true story of pioneering car designer Carroll Shelby and fearless English born driver Ken Miles and their quest to build a race car for Ford motor company to beat Enzo Ferrari in the Le Mans in 1966. Shelby and Miles together overcome the challenging physics, corporate egos and seemingly unbeatable odds to build Fords first race car, the Ford GT40. Released by 20th Century Fox, Directed by James Mangold, Written by Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth, Jason Keller and Starring Matt Damon as Carroll Shelby and Christian Bale as Ken Miles.
In the early 60’s, Ford Motor Company was suffering significant losses and Henry Ford II fired everyone and gave them the option to come back if they came up with an idea to turn things around. Ferrari was building the best cars that would win the Le Mans Grand Prix every year, but there was a high cost in building cars one at a time that had the company in financial troubles. Lee Iacocca (Jon Bernthal) approached owner Enzo Ferrari (Remo Girone) with a proposal to merge and Ford and Ferrari, but Ferrari was so insulted he called all the Ford execs “sons of whores” and belittled Henry Ford II by calling him number 2.
This fueled Henry Ford II in an all out war against Ferrari to build a Ford race car that could win the Le Mans. Iacocca then contacted innovative auto designer Carroll Shelby, an ex race driver who previously won the Le Mans in 1959, who owned his own company building and racing Corbas with British driver and ace mechanic Ken Miles. Shelby was winning races, but Miles was known to be “difficult to work with” and often threw tantrums, fighting with race officials, etc.
The synergy between Carroll and Miles was pure brilliance together creating the Ford GT40, and set out to race it in the 1965 Grand Prix., and had a very close relationship like brothers, and even got into “brother like” physical fights but were together were a great team at building fast cars. There was just one problem, Ford corporate executive Le Beebe (Josh Lucas) did not like Miles, and convinced Ford to exclude him from the Le Mans racing team, which ended up losing.
Henry Ford II goes after Carroll for the loss, but Carroll argued it was due to Miles not racing, so Ford gives the team another year to engineer and race in the 1966 Le Mans. They face challenges and compromise of working with corporate execs and their underhanded ways of control, even tricking Miles into throwing the Le Mans by asking him to slow down and have all three Ford cars cross the finish at the same time, and though way ahead in the race placed 2nd due to a technicality.
Carroll and Miles brushed it off, and set out to better the engineering on the Ford GT, but the car malfunctioned during a test drive and Miles died in the crash. Ken Miles was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame and Ford won the Le Mans in 1966, 1967, 1968 and 1969 and was the only American car to ever win the Le Mans.
FORD v FERRARI is a thrilling story about people who love their life’s endeavors and live their lives pursuing excellence through gifted brilliance and perseverance. Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt were originally cast in the starring roles, and feel that the success of this movie comes primarily from the winning combination of Damon and Bale and their ability to immerse viewers in this inspiring true story of American ingenuity.
Rated: PG-13 (for some language and peril)