1966 24 Hours of Le Mans

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1966 24 Hours of Le Mans
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Index: Races | Winners

The 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans was the 34th Grand Prix of Endurance, and took place on 18 and 19 June 1966.[1] It was also the seventh round of the 1966 World Sportscar Championship season. This was the first win at LeMans for the Ford GT40 and the first win for an American car company. It was the first time that Henri Pescarolo entered the race, a driver who went on to set the record for the most starts.

Le Mans in 1966

Pre-race[edit]

In 1966, the Ford GT40 Mk. II had become reliable (after Ford had failed to win in 1964 and 1965).[2][3] Shelby test driver Ken Miles managed to win at the 24 Hours of Daytona[4] and the 12 Hours of Sebring[5] with the big block Ford. Ford sent no less than eight Mk. IIs to La Sarthe, entered by three teams: 3 by Shelby-American, 3 by Holman & Moody and 2 by Alan Mann Racing. Ferrari sent only two works Ferrari 330 P3s to compete against the Ford armada. Another P3 was entered by NART, and four 365 P2 were entered by Ferrari's usual private partners.[6]

Race[edit]

Ford GT40 Mark II
Ferrari 330 P3

The two works P3s were involved in an accident. At 01:45 the P2s had already exhausted their engine in trying to keep contact with the Mk. II and the last Ferrari prototype, the Pedro Rodríguez/Richie Ginther NART P3 retired with overheating. The race was won for Ford. For the first time in history an American car had won Le Mans.[7][8]

At the last pit stop, three Mark IIs were in front. Ken Miles and Denny Hulme were leading, followed by Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon in the same lap. Ronnie Bucknum and Dick Hutcherson were third, but twelve laps behind.

At the end of the race, Ford decided to stage a publicity photo.[9] The plan was to have the top three podium finishers (car numbers 1, 2, and 5, in that order) cross the line near one another to provide a photographic finish, depicting Ford's dominating race performance. Miles's #1 car was leading until the drivers were told to close up for the finish. As it turned out McLaren's #2 car crossed the finish line in first place and was declared the winner. It is rumored that Miles, upset about the team orders, allowed McLaren to finish ahead. Car #5 finished close behind the other two Fords.

Porsche 906 Carrera

Controversy surrounds the finish of this race,[10][11] suggesting that Ford #2 was given the win due to a detail of the Le Mans rules - namely that the #2 car qualified fourth (therefore starting further down the grid) and had therefore driven farther than the #1 car, even though they crossed the finish line nearly side-by-side. Film of the final lap of the race and photos of the finish show that Ford #2 car actually crossed the finish line first. The official Ford press release, dated 7 May 1966, claims:

"The McLaren-Amon and the Miles-Hulme cars were running within seconds of each other as the race neared its end, with the Bucknum-Hutcherson car hanging back as insurance. A decision was made in the Ford pits to have the cars finish side by side in what hopefully would be considered a dead heat. All three cars went over the finish in formation, but any chance for a dead heat disappeared when officials discovered a rule that in case of a tie, the car that had started further down the grid had traveled the farther distance. Since McLaren and Amon had started 60 feet behind Miles and Hulme, they were declared the winners. Both New Zealanders who now reside in England, it was the most important victory yet for the two youngsters. McLaren, who builds his own Formula and sports cars, is 28. Amon 22, is the youngest winner in the history of the event. It was a record shattering performance as the winning car covered more miles (3,009.3) at a faster speed (125.38 mph) than any previous entry. It demonstrated that production engines could compete with racing powerplants and that an American-built car could top Europe's best."[1]

The Ford team's decision was a big disappointment for Ken Miles, who expected the 'Endurance Racing Triple Crown'—Daytona-Sebring-Le Mans—as a reward for his investment in the GT40 development. "I'm disappointed, of course, but what are you going to do about it."[12] Two months later, Ken Miles died while testing the next generation Ford GT40 J-Car, which became the MkIV that won Le Mans in 1967.[13]

Legacy in Popular Culture[edit]

"Go Like Hell"[edit]

The race became the subject of a 2009 book, detailing the race and the famous background rivalry between Enzo Ferrari and Henry Ford II, by A.J. Baime[14][15] titled “Go Like Hell”—the words shouted by Bruce McLaren to Chris Amon as they drove to their famous victory.[16] Chris Amon was interviewed in 2016:

"Bruce drove the first stints. I recall it was damp and we were running on intermediate Firestone tires and at 210-220mph [355kmh] on the Mulsanne Straight, the tires were shedding tread. I took over from Bruce and he spoke to Firestone and they generously said we could switch to the Goodyears the other GT40s were running. Bruce said to me we had to drive the doors off the thing so we did. There was a bit of history to that. We had both driven the first two 7.0-liter cars at Le Mans the previous year: Bruce with Ken Miles and myself with Phil Hill. We were warned to be careful with the gearbox as they were new and unproven, and both cars retired with gearbox failures. As a result, when I went to Daytona for the 24 hours, paired with Bruce, I suggested to Bruce that we set a fairly conservative pace for the race, and whilst we might be running out of the top three in the early stages, we might be the only one there at the end. We finished fifth. For Le Mans, we decided to set a pace for ourselves. This strategy fell apart when our tires started losing treads early in the race and we lost considerable time. When I was called in to change tires, I think Bruce's frustration had reached boiling point, he put his head through the car door and said 'Go Like Hell'." At the finish: "the idea was that the leading GT40s would cross the line together, but in practice, it wasn't possible to have a dead heat. We weren't sure who had won initially."[17]

Rumors of a movie adaption of the book, an Amazon best seller,[18] circulated from 2013 to 2015.[19][20] The book attained a "4.5 star" rating by book review website GoodReads.com.[21]

"The 24 Hour War"[edit]

A 2016 documentary film, produced and directed by Americans Nate Adams[22] and Adam Carolla,[23] features the Le Mans rivalry between Ferrari and Ford.[24] The production was well received critically, attaining a "100%" rating on review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes,[25] and a "five-star" rating on electronic commerce company Amazon.com.[26]

"In 1966, Ford won the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the first time. The following year, they won again. The year after that, they won a third time. And in 1969, a fourth.

That achievement was arguably the greatest in the company's history. It came after years of struggle, more than a few public failures, and enough burnt cash to refloat the Titanic. Ford's Sixties Le Mans program was famously the result of a dispute between Henry Ford II and Enzo Ferrari—Ford had tried to purchase Ferrari (the company), only to have Enzo shut down the sale at the last minute. Ford the man vowed to get even, aiming his considerable resources at Ferrari's Le Mans record. The resulting warpath employed everyone from Bruce McLaren to Carroll Shelby and Indy 500 legend A.J. Foyt, putting the stops to Ferrari's unbroken, five-year winning streak at La Sarthe.

Collectively, Ford's wins were one of countless bright moments in a golden decade for both motorsport and culture in general. That first win made it onto the front pages of European newspapers, and it actually helped sell new cars. Ferrari never won Le Mans again, but Ford wouldn't go back until 2016. When Dearborn won last year, the world went less than nuts. But that makes sense: Both Le Mans and international motorsport are different now, tamer and less raw. So is the automobile itself. Racing is no longer a brutally dangerous pastime or the kind of thing that puts whole countries on the edge of their seats. And most of all, in 2016, there is no Henry the Deuce, no world-altering grudge match, no Enzo, no Carroll. The Ford-Ferrari war pivoted on how these men operated and thought, and they made that story what it was."--Sam Smith, Adam Carolla's 'The 24 Hour War' Is a Car Movie by Car People That Isn't Just for Car People, Road and Track, Jan. 18, 2017.[27]

Official results[edit]

Pos Class No Team Drivers Chassis Engine Laps
1 P
+5.0
2 United States Shelby-American Inc. New Zealand Bruce McLaren
New Zealand Chris Amon
Ford GT40 Mk.II Ford 7.0L V8 360
2 P
+5.0
1 United States Shelby-American Inc. United Kingdom Ken Miles
New Zealand Denis Hulme
Ford GT40 Mk.II Ford 7.0L V8 360
3 P
+5.0
5 United States Holman & Moody / Essex Wire Corp. United States Ronnie Bucknum
United States Dick Hutcherson
Ford GT40 Mk.II Ford 7.0L V8 348
4 P
2.0
30 Germany Porsche System Engineering Switzerland Jo Siffert
United Kingdom Colin Davis
Porsche 906/6L Carrera 6 Porsche 2.0L Flat-6 339
5 P
2.0
31 Germany Porsche System Engineering Germany Hans Herrmann
Germany Herbert Linge
Porsche 906/6L Carrera 6 Porsche 2.0L Flat-6 338
6 P
2.0
32 Germany Porsche System Engineering Germany Udo Schütz
South Africa Peter de Klerk
Porsche 906/6L Carrera 6 Porsche 2.0L Flat-6 337
7 S
2.0
58 Germany Porsche System Engineering Germany Günter Klass
Germany Rolf Stommelen
Porsche 906/6L Carrera 6 Porsche 2.0L Flat-6 330
8 GT
5.0
29 United Kingdom Maranello Concessionaires United Kingdom Piers Courage
United States Roy Pike
Ferrari 275 GTB/C Ferrari 3.3L V12 313
9 P
1.3
62 France Société des Automobiles Alpine France Henri Grandsire
Italy Leo Cella
Alpine A210 Renault 1.3L I4 311
10 GT
5.0
57 Belgium Ecurie Francorchamps Belgium Pierre Noblet
Belgium Claude Dubois
Ferrari 275 GTB Ferrari 3.3L V12 310
11 P
1.3
44 France Ecurie Savin-Calberson France Jacques Cheinisse
France Roger Delageneste
Alpine A210 Renault 1.3L I4 307
12 P
1.3
45 France Société des Automobiles Alpine France Guy Verrier
France Robert Bouharde
Alpine A210 Renault 1.3L I4 307
13 P
1.3
46 France Société des Automobiles Alpine Switzerland Mauro Bianchi
France Jean Vinatier
Alpine A210 Renault 1.3L I4 306
14 GT
2.0
35 France "J. Franc" France Jacques Dewes
France Jean Kerguen
Porsche 911S Porsche 2.0L Flat-6 284
15 P
1.3
50 France Jean-Louis Marnat & Cie France Claude Ballot-Léna
France Jean-Louis Marnat
Marcos Mini Marcos GT 2+2 BMC 1.3L I4 258

Did Not Finish[edit]

Pos Class No Team Drivers Chassis Engine Laps
16 S
2.0
33 Germany Porsche System Engineering United States Peter Gregg
Sweden Sten Axelsson
Porsche 906/6 Carrera 6 Porsche 2.0L Flat-6 321
17 P
+5.0
3 United States Shelby-American Inc. United States Dan Gurney
United States Jerry Grant
Ford GT40 Mk.II Ford 7.0L V8 257
18 P
1.3
49 United Kingdom Donald Healey Motor Company United Kingdom Paddy Hopkirk
United Kingdom Andrew Hedges
Austin-Healey Sprite Le Mans BMC 1.3L I4 237
19 S
5.0
14 Switzerland Scuderia Filipinetti
United Kingdom F.R. English Ltd. / Comstock Racing
United Kingdom Peter Sutcliffe
Switzerland Dieter Spoerry
Ford GT40 Mk.I Ford 4.7L V8 233
20 P
5.0
21 Italy SpA Ferrari SEFAC Italy Lorenzo Bandini
France Jean Guichet
Ferrari 330 P3 Ferrari 4.0L V12 226
21 GT
5.0
26 United States Ed Hugus Italy Giampiero Biscaldi
France Michel de Bourbon-Parma
Ferrari 275 GTB Ferrari 3.3L V12 218
22 S
5.0
28 Belgium Equipe Nationale Belge Belgium Gustave Gosselin
Belgium Eric de Keyn
Ferrari 250LM Ferrari 3.3L V12 218
23 P
1.3
47 France Société des Automobiles Alpine Sweden Berndt Jansson
Finland Pauli Toivonen
Alpine A210 Renault 1.3L I4 217
24 S
5.0
59 United States Essex Wire Corporation United States Peter Revson
United States Skip Scott
Ford GT40 Mk.I Ford 4.7L V8 212
25 S
5.0
15 France Ford France S.A. France Guy Ligier
United States Bob Grossman
Ford GT40 Mk.I Ford 4.7L V8 205
26 P
5.0
19 Switzerland Scuderia Filipinetti Belgium Willy Mairesse
Switzerland Herbert Müller
Ferrari 365 P2/P3 Ferrari 4.4L V12 166
27 S
5.0
60 United States Essex Wire Corporation Germany Jochen Neerpasch
Belgium Jacky Ickx
Ford GT40 Mk.I Ford 4.7L V8 154
28 P
5.0
27 United States North American Racing Team (NART) United States Richie Ginther
Mexico Pedro Rodríguez
Ferrari 330 P3 Spyder Ferrari 4.0L V12 151
29 P
1.3
48 United Kingdom Donald Healey Motor Company United Kingdom John Rhodes
United Kingdom Clive Baker
Austin-Healey Sprite Le Mans BMC 1.3L I4 134
30 P
5.0
17 Belgium Ecurie Francorchamps Belgium Jean Blaton
France Pierre Dumay
Ferrari 365 P2/P3 Ferrari 4.4L V12 129
31 P
5.0
20 Italy SpA Ferrari SEFAC Italy Ludovico Scarfiotti
United Kingdom Mike Parkes
Ferrari 330 P3 Ferrari 4.0L V12 123
32 P
1.15
55 France Société des Automobiles Alpine France André de Cortanze
France Jean-Pierre Hanrioud
Alpine A210 Renault 1.0L I4 118
33 P
2.0
41 France Matra Sports SARL France Johnny Servoz-Gavin
France Jean-Pierre Beltoise
Matra MS620 BRM 1.9L V8 112
34 P
+5.0
9 United States Chaparral Cars Inc. United States Phil Hill
Sweden Joakim Bonnier
Chaparral 2D Chevrolet 5.4L V8 111
35 P
+5.0
7 United Kingdom Alan Mann Racing Ltd. United Kingdom Graham Hill
Australia Brian Muir
Ford GT40 Mk.II Ford 7.0L V8 110
36 P
2.0
34 France Auguste Veuillet France Robert Buchet
Germany Gerhard Koch
Porsche 906/6 Carrera 6 Porsche 2.0L Flat-6 110
37 P
2.0
42 France Matra Sports SARL France Jo Schlesser
United Kingdom Alan Rees
Matra MS620 BRM 1.9L V8 100
38 P
+5.0
6 United States Holman & Moody United States Mario Andretti
Belgium Lucien Bianchi
Ford GT40 Mk.II Ford 7.0L V8 97
39 P
1.15
53 France S.E.C. Automobiles CD France Georges Heligouin
France Jean Rives
CD SP66 Peugeot 1.1L I4 91
40 P
5.0
18 United States North American Racing Team (NART) United States Masten Gregory
United States Bob Bondurant
Ferrari 365 P2 Ferrari 4.4L V12 88
41 P
1.15
51 France S.E.C. Automobiles CD France Claude Laurent
France Jean-Claude Ogier
CD SP66 Peugeot 1.1L I4 54
42 P
1.3
54 United States North American Racing Team (NART) France François Pasquier
France Robert Mieusset
ASA RB613 Ferrari 1.3L I4 50
43 P
5.0
24 Italy Scuderia San Marco France Jean-Claude Sauer
France Jean de Mortemart
Serenissima Jungla GT Spyder ATS 3.5L V8 40
44 P
+5.0
11 Italy Prototip Bizzarrini SAL United States Sam Posey
Italy Massimo Natili
Bizzarrini 5300GT Chevrolet 5.4L V8 39
45 P
2.0
43 France Matra Sports SARL France Jean-Pierre Jaussaud
France Henri Pescarolo
Matra MS620 BRM 1.9L V8 38
46 P
5.0
16 United Kingdom Maranello Concessionaires United Kingdom Richard Attwood
United Kingdom David Piper
Ferrari 365 P2 Spyder Ferrari 4.4L V12 33
47 P
1.3
61 Italy ASA Italy Spartaco Dini
Italy Ignazio Giunti
ASA RB613 Ferrari 1.3L I4 31
48 P
+5.0
8 United Kingdom Alan Mann Racing Ltd. United Kingdom Sir John Whitmore
Australia Frank Gardner
Ford GT40 Mk.II Ford 7.0L V8 31
49 P
1.15
52 France S.E.C. Automobiles CD France Pierre Lelong
France Alain Bertaut
CD SP66 Peugeot 1.1L I4 19
50 P
2.0
36 United Kingdom Maranello Concessionaires United Kingdom Mike Salmon
United Kingdom David Hobbs
Ferrari Dino 206S Ferrari 2.0L V6 14
51 P
+5.0
4 United States Holman & Moody United States Mark Donohue
Australia Paul Hawkins
Ford GT40 Mk.II Ford 7.0L V8 12
52 P
2.0
38 United States North American Racing Team (NART) United States Charlie Kolb
United States George Follmer
Ferrari Dino 206S Ferrari 2.0L V6 9
53 P
+5.0
10 Italy Prototip Bizzarrini SRL Switzerland Edgar Berney
Switzerland André Wicky
Bizzarrini P538 Chevrolet 5.4L V8 8
54 S
5.0
12 United Kingdom F.R. English Ltd. \ Comstock Racing United Kingdom Innes Ireland
Austria Jochen Rindt
Ford GT40 Mk.I Ford 4.7L V8 8
55 P
2.0
25 Italy Scuderia San Marco
United States North American Racing Team (NART)
Italy Nino Vaccarella
Italy Mario Casoni
Ferrari Dino 206S Ferrari 2.0L V6 7

Statistics[edit]

  • Pole Position - #3 Shelby-American Inc. - 3:30.6
  • Fastest Lap - #3 Shelby-American Inc. - 3:30.6
  • Distance - 4843.09 km
  • Average Speed - 210.795 km/h

Trophy Winners[edit]

  • Index of Performance - #30 Porsche System Engineering
  • Index of Thermal Efficiency - #33 Ecurie Savin-Calberson

References[edit]

  1. ^ Motor Sport, July 1966, Pages 596-597.
  2. ^ "Le Mans 24 Hours 1964 - Race Results - Racing Sports Cars". www.racingsportscars.com. Retrieved 2016-09-02. 
  3. ^ "Le Mans 24 Hours 1965 - Race Results - Racing Sports Cars". www.racingsportscars.com. Retrieved 2016-09-02. 
  4. ^ "Daytona 24 Hours 1966 - Race Results - Racing Sports Cars". www.racingsportscars.com. Retrieved 2016-09-02. 
  5. ^ "Sebring 12 Hours 1966 - Race Results - Racing Sports Cars". www.racingsportscars.com. Retrieved 2016-09-02. 
  6. ^ "Le Mans 24 Hours 1966 - Entry List - Racing Sports Cars". www.racingsportscars.com. Retrieved 2016-09-02. 
  7. ^ http://www.supercars.net/cars/692.html
  8. ^ "Le Mans 24 Hours 1966 - Race Results - Racing Sports Cars". www.racingsportscars.com. Retrieved 2016-09-02. 
  9. ^ "A look back at the 1966 Le Mans 24 Hours". 2016-05-05. Retrieved 2016-09-02. 
  10. ^ "Watch the story of the controversy behind the Ford GT40's photo finish at Le Mans in 1966". Retrieved 2016-09-02. 
  11. ^ "Le Mans 1966: The Golden Mystery – dailysportscar.com". www.dailysportscar.com. Retrieved 2016-09-02. 
  12. ^ "20 Jun 1966, Page 11 - The Cumberland News at Newspapers.com". Retrieved 2016-07-02. 
  13. ^ "Ken Miles--an appreciation". www.cobracountry.com. Retrieved 2016-09-04. 
  14. ^ "Go Like Hell: Ford, Ferrari and Their Battle for Speed and Glory at Le Mans - Book Review". 2009-09-09. Retrieved 2016-09-02. 
  15. ^ Spinelli, Mike. "How Carroll Shelby And A Gang Of Nerds Beat Enzo Ferrari". Retrieved 2016-09-02. 
  16. ^ "Ford Preparing to ‘Go Like Hell!’ at Le Mans 24 Hours". performance.ford.com. Retrieved 2016-09-02. 
  17. ^ "Remembering Le Mans 1966". Stuff. Retrieved 2016-09-02. 
  18. ^ Baime, A. J. (2010-06-17). Go Like Hell: Ford, Ferrari, and Their Battle for Speed and Glory at Le Mans (Reprint ed.). Mariner Books. ISBN 9780547336053. 
  19. ^ Pete, Sneaky. "What happened to the movie adaptation of "Go Like Hell?"". Retrieved 2016-09-02. 
  20. ^ "Tom Cruise, 'Oblivion' Director Joseph Kosinski to Reteam for Fox's 'Go Like Hell' (Exclusive)". 2013-10-23. Retrieved 2016-09-02. 
  21. ^ "Go Like Hell". Goodreads. Retrieved 2017-04-01. 
  22. ^ "Nate Adams". IMDb. Retrieved 2017-04-01. 
  23. ^ "Adam Carolla". IMDb. Retrieved 2017-04-01. 
  24. ^ Agapiou, Charlie; Andretti, Mario; Baime, A. J.; Bondurant, Bob (2000-01-01), The 24 Hour War, retrieved 2017-04-01 
  25. ^ The 24 Hour War, retrieved 2017-04-01 
  26. ^ Watch The 24 Hour War (2016) online - Amazon Video, retrieved 2017-04-01 
  27. ^ "Adam Carolla's 'The 24 Hour War' Is a Car Movie by Car People That Isn't Just for Car People". Road & Track. 2017-01-18. Retrieved 2017-04-01.