The 24 Hours of LeMans occurs over this weekend in June 2010, not sure if I've posted this before & stupid me, I can't figure out how to see all my own entries so here is a review of one of my favorite racing tomes.
Ford, Ferrari & their battle for speed and glory at Le Mans.
From the start finish line the Grand Marshall waves the flag and the drivers who are standing at the side lines RUN to their cars, jump in and start their engines. Mashing the gas and shifting precisely, they hurtle past the grandstands and the pits. Passing beneath the Dunlop bridge they jockey for position through the Esses toward Tertre Rouge. Propping their knees against the steering wheel the driver finally has time to buckle up along the Mulsanne straight, hopefully completing the task before the hairpin turn of the same name. Glancing however briefly at the signaling pits, man & machine now as one make their way toward Indianapolis and the Arnase. It's almost a straight shot past the White House and the start finish line, where this incredible but (hopefully) brief journey all began. This is the 8.36 mile circuit of the Twenty-four hours of Le Mans run in 1966 and one stage upon which the heroes (and villains?) of this tale tread.
Much more than a race documentary, this fine tome penned by Mr. Baime brings us an account of the fierce rivalry of two sports car manufacturers whose sole goal for that brief period of time was to win the most important sports car race of its age, The Twenty-four hours of Le Mans. Two titans, Henry Ford II (The Deuce) and Enzo Ferrari (Il Commendatore) parry and thrust in front of and behind the scenes of a world wide audience all in an attempt to conquer or keep possession of the marketing acclaim and power that was obtained only by winning this Grand Prix d'Endurance.
In addition to the two iconic industrialists we're also introduced to others who are American household names like Iacocca & Shelby and others who don't happen to share such renown. Ken Miles and Donald Frey are gentlemen who both played pivotal roles in the development, design, testing and racing of the 1966 Ford Mk II. Others such as McLaren and Andretti make brief appearances on the Ford team as well.
In the Ferrari stables we meet the legendary Phil Hill, Il Grande John Surtees, Ferrari Lieutenant Franco Gozzi and Ferrari's legitimate and illegitimate sons. As much about winning and life is Ferrari's legacy of destruction and the death of its drivers as they pursue victory in the worlds fastest and most mechanically durable, yet deadly sports cars.
Like a fly upon the wall we're privy to witness the internecine struggles of both organizations, the battles between owners, vice-presidents, engineers and drivers, between the teams of drivers themselves and also ultimately, between man & machine. The author provides great insight into business dealings between Ford & Ferrari in an interesting and compelling way by using first hand accounts, most often quoting the actual individuals involved.
The author, A.J. Baime has truly captured the spirit of this one particular moment in time and the men that lived, however briefly, their lives within it. "GO LIKE HELL" is one book about racing that I would highly recommend.
Opinions expressed in blogs are those of the individual bloggers and do not necessarily represent the views of racing-reference.info.