Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Must read for Motorheads

I've found myself reading a lot of 1960's and early 1970's sportscar and Formula One books lately, not sure why but my collect has ended up that way. I plan on deviating from that soon to read the new Pat Conroy book. My current list of books includes:

- Winning Is Not Enough: The Autobiography of Jackie Stewart
- Racing in the Rain
- McLaren Memories: A Biography of Bruce McLaren
- Go Like Hell

The last book is one I actually managed to finish before jumping to something else. For those that don't know, Go Like Hell by A.J. Baime chronicles Ford's unrelenting assault on Le Mans in an effort to stop the winning streak of Ferrari.

As a quick recap for those unfamiliar, in the early 1960's, Henry Ford II toyed with the idea of buying Ferrari and actually got into very in-depth, protracted negotiations. Things began to draw to a close and it was thought that the papers would be inked and a great American car dynasty was to acquire a great Italian car dynasty. However, it wasn't to be so as Ferrari pulled out of negotiations at the last minute. Infuriated at the idea of being toyed with himself, the Deuce set out to protect his namesake and beat Ferrari at his own game. From that moment on, Ford set out to win Le Mans. This moment would prove to be the decision that spurred the creation of one of Ford's most notable cars aside from the Model T or Mustang, the Ford GT40.

Baime's book is brief at just under 300 pages but manages to accomplish quite a bit in its few pages. Focusing on the two battling captains of industry, Ford vs. Ferrari, but shows them in very different light as broken men hell-bent on the same goal: Win Le Mans, be the fastest. However, Baime goes on to give you significant insight into the men behind the wheel of the Ferrari 330 P3's and Ford GT40's, introducing readers to people such as Ken Miles, a driver that should have won Le Mans in 1966 but due to politics, ultimately lost out to McLaren in a near dead heat finish. The reader is also given insight into Carroll Shelby and his company and the magnitude of his influence on the Ford racing program in the 1960's.

For motorheads looking for a quick read about one of the best stories of the Golden Era of Motorsports then definitely pick up a copy of Go Like Hell. This book belongs in any petrolhead/motorhead's personal library!

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