Movie Review: Ford v. Ferrari Is A Ken Miles Movie And That’s What It Should Be

When Ford v. Ferrari was first announced every racing fan was ecstatic. That excitement was immediately met with caution. We all have seen how Hollywood treats racing and specifically racing movies. Driven not only got greenlit but was also released for the world to see and we’ll never forgive them for.

So there I was, walking into Ford v. Ferrari at 6 p.m. Thursday evening with my expectations and hope capped at a conservative amount. Rush was fantastic and it is the epitome of what a racing movie should be in this era. If Ford v. Ferrari could capture that same storytelling it would be fantastic.

Folks, let me start off by saying this movie is really good. 85/100 good and I’m only taking off points for discrepancies in the story and location settings.

This Is A Ken Miles Movie

Ken Miles is a legend of a race car driver at this point. A surly Brit who spent most of his career as a journeyman and mechanic. A driver who didn’t get his break until his mid-40’s. A racer’s racer, a guy who could build the car and then drive the wheels off of it.

Ken’s story is one of the best racing stories but one most race fans don’t know. After you see this movie you’ll know Ken Miles and you’ll want to know more about him. Reading Go Like Hell is a good place to start.

One of my biggest fears going into this movie is it would be a Henry Ford II / Carroll Shelby movie which would have been fair but Ken Miles did all of the miles in the GT40, he helped with the design, the testing, the driving, all of it was Ken. In a surprise, this was more Ken Miles centered than we ever could have hoped for.

From his relationship with his wife who stood by him through the IRS issues, the problems with the business, the racing, the fires, the travel, the long hours at Shelby American. To his son, Peter who like any kid adored his dad. A kid who loved watching his dad race but hated the consequences of racing, the same consequences that he’d come to know far too soon. Ken Miles was a simple yet complex man and driver, he free spirit who embodied what fans love about drivers. Christian Bale did Ken Miles well.

Fontana Isn’t Daytona

So for some unknown reason, likely budget and travel-related the producers decided to make Fontana (Auto Club Speedway) into Daytona International Speedway for this movie. Complete with Fontana’s grandstand, pit lane buildings, SAFER barriers and its absurd road course entrance in the middle of oval turns one and two.

Image result for auto club speedway road course

Fontana doesn’t have the banking Daytona has, the road course, hell it doesn’t even have the same pit lane. The walls were painted the correct color and the Daytona font was correct on the wall but the rest was completely wrong. For the first few minutes of on-track action they almost made it seem like the 24 was run on the oval before finally showing some road course shots.

90 percent of moviegoers won’t pick up on this. Only race fans who have a working knowledge of Daytona, Fontana and the 24 will pick up on the fact this is in California, not Florida.

Also in one scene Ken Miles’ wife is talking to him and tells her son it’s 4 a.m. “go back to bed.” They’re in California, Ken is in Florida yet its the pitch of night in Daytona. Having been up for all 24 hours walking the grounds at Daytona the sun is already up. Also, she and her son could have gone to watch Ken in the movie you since they were in Los Angeles and Fontana is also in Los Angeles but enough nitpicking.

Everything About Le Mans Is Correct

Sure the way Lee Iaccoca and Henry Ford II say Le Mans in the film is infuriating. However, the production team got damn near everything about Le Mans correct. From signage, the pit equipment, to advertisements, to scenery, to what the team was wearing they got everything right.

Le Mans in the ’60s was vastly different from what we see today. There were no chicanes on the Mulsanne straight, there was no wall separating pit lane from the track. Literally, as you’re changing tires there were cars flying by you inches away it was insanity. The Ford chicanes didn’t yet exist on the front stretch, mainly because Ford hadn’t dominated up to this point and 210 mph seemed safe.

Much like Rush, the production crew did their due diligence on what Le Mans looked like in 1966 and we couldn’t be more thankful.

Little Things They Got Right

  • When Ken Miles first drives the GT-40 for the first time he hated the car. And the movie conveyed that so well.
  • As soon as they put the 289 engine in the car Miles and crew immediately wanted more power. They wanted the 427 in the GT and they got it. The films shows that happening in Dearborn, the timeline is sped up but people who know the story will appreciate they put this in the film.
  • At the start of the Le Mans in 1966, Ken Miles’ door was damaged on the start which resulted in him pitting and the team shutting the door with a hammer.
  • Even down to the sand embankments on corner exit.
  • The controversy at the end. Carroll Shelby told Ken Miles it was his decision if he wanted to cross the finish line three abreast. Ultimately that cost Ken the win and the triple crown that season.

Things They Got Wrong

  • Ken Miles crash that took his life happened at Riverside and not Willow Springs. However Riverside no longer exists it’s a suburban neighborhood.

Other than that a few things here and there but we’re not going to nitpick this movie to death. There are more racing stories that need to be told. Ford v. Ferrari is a great one and one that deserves this type of Hollywood storytelling treatment. Now let’s do another again soon.

Score: 85/100

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