24h Le Mans
12/11/2019 - 12:01

Le Mans 66 – Carroll Shelby talks Ken Miles

To coincide with the opening of the exposition at the 24 Hours Museum (from 21 October 2019 to 23 February 2020) dedicated to the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans and release of the film "Le Mans 66" a.k.a. "Ford v Ferrari" (15 November), this series revisits the 34th running of the race staged on the big screen by James Mangold. This installment contains memories shared by Carroll Shelby in a Ken Miles biography written in 2004 by Art Evans and edited by Photo Data Research.
Le Mans 66 – Carroll Shelby talks Ken Miles

A strong personality – "All those years before Shelby American, we knew him as kind of a hothead, but it never showed up during the years he was with me."

A singular character – "Ken was very unique for me. It seemed like he created a hell of a lot of controversy before he came to work for me at Shelby American. But I always got along with Ken just fine."

A generous spirit – "Ken was a world-class and the best test driver I ever knew. He was also helpful to the other drivers. He reminded me of Fangio in that regard. He would take time to teach the other drivers."

A tireless work ethic – "He was the heart and soul of our testing program (…) He took a pile of shit, the Daytona Coupe, and made it work (…) The first time it went down the straightaway, Ken said, 'My God, the rear end came a foot off the bloody ground going down the back straight at Riverside at 155 mph.' It took about three months to get it right. We didn't have money to go to a wind tunnel. We put cotton tufts on it and every one of them went forward. Every day, Ken Miles was out there testing (…) In the end, he made the thing work."

A very knowledgeable driver – "We should have won the World Championship in 1964 (…) The next year, Ferrari ran a 4-liter engine (…) Ken told me Ferrari was going to use a 4-liter early on. Somehow, he got inside information; I never knew where."

A lasting legacy – "Since his death, there's not a day in my life that I don't think of Ken Miles. I hope someday we get around to setting up a foundation in Ken's name that helps the things he was so vitally interested in: American Indians and young people trying to break into racing. He understood them and their problems; he helped them."

 

PHOTOS ABOVE (Copyright - 20th Century Fox): Christian Bale at the wheel as Ken Miles. BELOW: Christian Bale, Matt Damon and their counterparts Ken Miles and Carroll Shelby.