Ken Miles stepping into
Dolphin Mk 2., March 1961.
1 November 1918|
Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, England, UK
17 August 1966 (aged 47)|
Riverside International Raceway, California, USA
Kenneth Henry Miles (1 November 1918 – 17 August 1966) was a British born, naturalised American sports car racing engineer and driver best known for his motorsport career in the USA, and with American teams on the international scene.
Miles then moved from England to the Los Angeles, California area. In 1953 he won 14 straight victories in SCCA racing in an MG-based special of his own design and construction.
For the 1955 season, he designed, constructed and campaigned a second special based on MG components that was known as the "Flying Shingle". It was very successful in the SCCA F modified class on the west coast. Miles raced the "Flying Shingle" at Palm Springs in late March, finishing first overall against veteran driver Cy Yedor, also in a MG Special, and novice driver, actor James Dean in a Porsche 356 Speedster. Miles was later disqualified on a technical infraction because his fenders were too wide, thus allowing Yedor and Dean to get 'bumped up' to first and second. During 1956, Miles raced Johnny von Neumann's Porsche 550 Spyder at most of the Cal Club and SCCA events.
For the 1957 season (in cooperation with Otto Zipper), Miles engineered the installation of a Porsche 550S engine and transmission in a 1956 Cooper chassis and body. It was the second successful race car to be known on the West Coast as "the Pooper", the first being an early 1950s Cooper chassis and body powered by a Porsche 356 power train that was built and campaigned by Pete Lovely of Tacoma, WA. The resulting car dominated the F Modified class of SCCA on the west coast in the 1957 and 1958 seasons with Miles driving.
Due to his great skill and talent, both as a driver and mechanic/engineer, Miles was a key member of the Shelby/Cobra race team in the early 1960s. Speaking with a very pronounced English accent, often with a seemingly obscure and sardonic sense of humour, he was affectionately known by his American racing crew as "Teddy Teabag" (for his tea drinking) or "Sidebite" (as he talked out of the side of his mouth). He played a key role in the development and success of the racing versions of the Shelby Cobra 289 in SCCA, USRRC and FIA sports car racing between 1962 and 1965 as well as the Daytona Coupe and 427 versions of the Cobra and the Ford GT (GT40).
In 1966 he won the 24 Hours of Daytona (pictured) with Lloyd Ruby, and then the 12 Hours of Sebring in the Ford GT Mk.II. Several months later, near the end of the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans Miles was in the lead, but Ford management, desiring a publicity photo of three of their cars crossing the finish line together, instructed Carroll Shelby to order him to slow down. Accordingly, the next car (Bruce McLaren/Chris Amon) and the third place car drew up, and they cruised to the line together. It is rumoured that Miles, with his considerable commitment to the Ford racing programme, registered a protest at this perceived slight by allowing Ford #2 car to cross the line first. A rather more plausible version, apparently admitted to by McLaren, is that despite the team orders he suddenly accelerated ahead just before the finish line, and crossed it first. Either way, Miles was denied the unique achievement of winning Sebring, Daytona, and Le Mans in the same year, as Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon were declared the winners.
Test driver/car developer
His early career got Carroll Shelby's attention, who hired Miles as a test driver in the early 1960s. Miles helped Shelby develop the Shelby Cobra. He also is credited with helping Shelby develop the GT40 and the Mustang GT350.
The Ford J-car was intended to be the successor to the all-conquering Ford GT Mk.II and, despite reliability problems, showed potential in the springtime Le Mans trials. The dark spot that came of the springtime trials was the death of Walt Hansgen in a Mk.II. Ford management made the decision to shelve the J-car and focus on the proven Mk IIs, and little development was done for the rest of the 1966 World Sports Car Championship season. Finally, in August 1966, Shelby American resumed testing and development work with Miles serving as primary test driver. The J-car featured a breadvan-shaped rear section that experimented with Kammback aerodynamic theories, as well as a revolutionary (but untested) honeycomb panel design that was supposed to both lighten and stiffen the car, but the design remained unproven with high-speed prototype sports cars.
After most of a day of testing at Riverside International Raceway in the brutally hot Southern California desert summer weather, Miles approached the end of the track's 1-mile (1.6 km), downhill back straight at top speed (200-plus mph) when the car suddenly looped, flipped, crashed and caught fire. The car broke into pieces and ejected Miles, killing him instantly. The car had suffered precisely the sort of crash damage the honeycomb construction was designed to prevent. As a result, the aerodynamics of the J-car were heavily modified to correct the rear-end lift generated at race speeds. Ford officials, under pressure after the second of two fatal accidents in the programme in five months, also ordered a NASCAR-style steel tube rollover cage to be installed in future versions of the car. The death of 47 year old Miles, following that of 46 year old Hansgen led Ford to favour younger drivers in subsequent race entries. The significantly revised J-car, renamed the Ford Mk IV, won the only two races in which it was entered: the 1967 Sebring (Fla.) 12 Hours, and the 1967 24 Hours of Le Mans. The steel roll cage in the Mk IV (mandated as a direct result of Miles's death) probably saved the life of Mario Andretti, who crashed violently during the 1967 24 Hours of Le Mans but escaped with minor injuries.
|1961||USAC Road Racing Championship||1st||Crandall Industries Incorporated||Porsche 718 RS 61|
Complete Formula One World Championship results
|1961||Louise Bryden-Brown||Lotus 18||Climax Straight-4||MON||NED||BEL||FRA||GBR||GER||ITA||USA
Complete 24 Hours of Le Mans results
MG L4 1489cc
|MG Cars Ltd.||John Lockett||249||12th||5th|
|1965||P+5.0||1||G||Ford GT Mk II
Ford 427 V8/90° OHV 6981cc
|Shelby American Inc.||Bruce McLaren||45||DNF|
|1966||P+2.0||1||G||Ford GT Mk II
Ford 427 V8/90° OHV 6982cc
|Shelby American Inc.||Denny Hulme||360||2nd|
Complete 24 Hours of Daytona results
|1966||P+2.0||98||G||Ford GT Mk II
Ford 427 V8/90° OHV 7000cc
|Shelby American Inc.||Lloyd Ruby||678||1st|
Complete 12 Hours of Sebring results
|1957||S1.5||45||Porsche 550 RS
Porsche F4 2v DOHC 1498cc
|J. Kunstle||Jean Pierre Kunstle||184||9th||2nd|
|1958||S1.5||45||Porsche 550 RS
Porsche F4 2v DOHC 1498cc
|Jean Pierre Kunstle||Jean Pierre Kunstle||59||DNF |
|1959||S1.5||35||Porsche 718 RSK
|Precision Motors||Jack McAfee||173||8th||3rd|
Sunbeam L4 1592cc
|Rootes Group||Lew Spencer||25||DNF |
|1963||GT+4.0||12||G||Shelby Cobra roadster
Ford V8/90° 2v OHV 4727cc
|Ed Hugus|| Phil Hill
Ford V8/90° 2v OHV 4727cc
|Shelby American Inc.|| Lew Spencer
Ford V8/90° 2v OHV 7000cc
|Shelby American Inc.||John Morton||81||DNF |
Ford 289 V8/90° 2v UHV 4727cc
|Shelby American Inc.||Bruce McLaren||192||2nd||1st|
Ford A V8 OHV 7040cc
|Shelby American Inc.||Lloyd Ruby||228||1st|
A big-budget film about rivalry between Ford and Ferrari at Le Mans auto race is in work at 20th Century Fox and its being directed by James Mangold. In the movie Ken Miles will be portrayed by Christian Bale. His wife and son will be portrayed by Caitriona Balfe and Noah Jupe respectively.The movie is expected to begin shooting in the summer of 2018 and is set for 2019 release. His closest acquaintance Carroll Shelby will be played by Matt Damon.
- Raskin, Lee (2005). James Dean: At Speed. Phoenix, Ariz.: David Bull. p. 70. ISBN 978-1893618497.
- Biography Archived 13 August 2009 at the Wayback Machine. at the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America
- "SPAM protection / Ochrana proti SPAMu". Wsrp.ic.cz. Archived from the original on 19 April 2014. Retrieved 2014-04-18.
- "USAC Road Racing Championship - Championships". Racing Sports Cars. Retrieved 2014-04-18.
- "James Mangold to Direct Ford vs. Ferrari Film as 'Logan' Follow-Up". variety.com. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
- "'Outlander' Star Caitriona Balfe, 'Quiet Place' Breakout Noah Jupe Join Ford vs. Ferrari Movie". hollywoodreporter.com. Retrieved May 23, 2018.