The year was 1965 and the date was 19/20 June, the 24 Hour Le Mans endurance sports car race was in its 33rd year. It was also the twelfth round of the World Sportscar Championship and after the disappointing results of the previous year’s race, Ford was returning with an improved version of its GT.
There were 11 Fords or Ford-powered cars in the field and to meet that challenge Ferrari had no less than 12 of their cars. Porsche had dominated the medium-engine category with seven cars and Alpine-Renault likewise dominated the small-engine categories with six entries.
Despite a strong start, in the end, Fords’ unreliability let them down and it was another easy victory for Ferrari.
It’s now 1966 at Le Mans and Ford are back with 8 Mark 2, 7.0L Ford GT40’s. There were also a number of older 4.7L GT40’s lining up in the race but all eyes were on the new improved mark 2’s.
This is the year that Ford made history by taking the first 3 podium places at Le Mans with first place going to the Shelby American Team with the drivers, Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon.
Second over the line in the same team was Ken Miles and Denny Hulme and third from the Holman & Moody team were Ronnie Bucknum and Dick Hutcherson.
This will be the backdrop of a new movie coming out soon that will feature Matt Damon will portraying Carroll Shelby focusing on the sports car battles between Ferrari and Ford in the 1960s, while Christian Bale is to portray the Ford GT40 test driver Ken Miles.
Ferrari won at Le Mans every year from 1960 to 1965, but Henry Ford II, furious at being spurned by Enzo Ferrari when he thought he had a deal to buy the Italian sports car firm, was triggered into commissioning a car to beat the red machines with a prancing horse at the famous track at Le Mans in France.
This car was eventually dubbed the GT40, and went on to score nine wins in the endurance classics at Daytona in 1965 and 1966, Sebring in 1966, 1967 and 1969, and Le Mans from 1966 through to 1969. Ferrari never won Le Mans outright after its legendary 1965 victory with Jochen Rindt and Masten Gregory in the 250LM.
Rumour back in February 2018 was reporting that Damon had been asked about the role of playing Shelby, who after co-driving in the 1959 Le Mans winning Aston Martin with Roy Salvadori, became one of the iconic names in Ford’s sporting history, thanks to his work at turning the AC Ace, Cobra and Ford Mustang into Ford-powered muscle cars, and running the American-entered GT40s at Le Mans.
As well as Bale’s role as Miles, Variety is reporting that Jon Bernthal will play the role of Lee Iacocca, who worked for Ford from 1946 to 1978, rising to VP by 1960 and president in 1970.
The film will be written and directed by James Mangold, who has CopLand, Walk the Line and the 2007 remake of 3:10 to Yuma in his résumé. For all the car people, this should be something to look forward to at your local picture theatre so keep an eye out for this coming soon.