The Legend of Ken Miles
Ken Miles, a name synonymous with speed, courage, and a relentless pursuit of victory. A British-born racecar driver, Miles is best remembered for his work with Ford Motor Company in the 1960s and his role in the Ford vs Ferrari rivalry which dominated the racing world. Whether you're a long-time racing fan, or your curiosity was piqued by the Hollywood retelling of his story in the movie "Ford v Ferrari," there's no denying the appeal of Ken Miles' story.
The 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans
The 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans is one of the most famous races in history. Not only was it the stage for the legendary Ford vs Ferrari rivalry, but it was also the race where Ken Miles made his mark. Despite being less known than some of his contemporaries, Miles' performance in this race cemented his place in racing history.
Miles' Performance in the Race
Ken Miles, partnering with co-driver Denny Hulme, was at the helm of the Ford GT40 Mk II. The car, a beast of a machine, was designed with one objective in mind – to beat Ferrari. And beat Ferrari it did, with Miles and Hulme leading the race for a significant portion of the 24 hours. The duo's skill, combined with the sheer power of the GT40, seemed unbeatable.
Did Ken Miles lose Le Mans?
The race ended in controversy. Ken Miles, who had driven a brilliant race for over 24 hours, was leading when the Ford team decided to stage a publicity photo of a three-car finish. This decision would ultimately cost Miles the victory he so deserved.
The Controversial Finish
As the race neared its end, the Ford team, led by Leo Beebe, decided to stage a photo finish with their three leading cars crossing the line side by side. However, due to the rules of the race, the car that had covered the most distance would be declared the winner. This rule handed the victory to Bruce McLaren, who started the race 20 meters behind Miles, despite both finishing at the same time.
The decision was met with widespread criticism. Many felt that Miles had been robbed of a victory he had rightfully earned. The controversy marred what should have been a triumphant moment for Ford. Despite this, Miles remained gracious in defeat, displaying the sportsmanship that was a hallmark of his career.
The Legacy of Ken Miles
Though Ken Miles may not have been officially recognized as the winner of the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans, his performance in the race will forever be remembered. His skill, determination, and sportsmanship continue to inspire drivers and fans alike. While the record books may not reflect it, in the hearts of many, Ken Miles is the true winner of the 1966 Le Mans.
The Fateful Next Chapter
Tragically, Ken Miles passed away just two months after the Le Mans race while testing the Ford J-Car. His death was a devastating loss to the racing world. Despite his untimely death, Miles' legacy lives on, not just through his son, Peter, but also in the hearts and minds of racing fans around the world.
The question of whether Ken Miles lost Le Mans is perhaps less important than the legacy he left behind. His story is a reminder of the passion, courage, and skill that define the world of racing. He may not have taken the official title, but there is no doubt that Ken Miles made his mark on Le Mans and the world of racing as a whole.
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