Thursday, October 31, 2013

I Won't Let Tom Cruise Ruin My Fun

I realize I'm a little behind the curve, but news came out recently that Tom Cruise has been cast to play Carroll Shelby in a movie version of the book, "Go Like Hell: Ford, Ferrari and their Battle For Speed and Glory at Le Mans". I only had to read a few of the comments below the story on to have my suspicions confirmed-Mr. Cruise is not a popular figure. My take? I think that, as an actor in a movie, he'll probably do fine as a fast-talking Texas tire salesman. I'm willing to give it a shot. I'm just excited that they are talking about making this movie. Which, as the Racer story points out, has yet to be greenlit. Meaning: It (and Tom Cruise) are several years away from the big screen.

The reason I'm excited about the movie is below-it's an edited review of the book I wrote shortly after it was published:

Go Like Hell 
Ford, Ferrari, and Their Battle For Speed and Glory at LeMans

By A.J. Baime
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston, 2009
304 pages, 20 color and black and white photographs

Numerous books chronicle Ford’s challenge of the Ferrari dominance of LeMans in the 1960s.  Here, the characters take center stage and breathe life into a story usually told in terms of chassis numbers and race results. 
A young and inexperienced Henry Ford II dragged his grandfather’s industrial giant into modernity while Enzo Ferrari built his racing car company into a dominant competitor in the Grand Prix and sports car racing worlds. Often, Ferrari’s dominance came at the expense of racing drivers’ lives. The two companies’ interests appeared to dovetail as American car buyers responded to a massive youth-centered marketing campaign and Ferrari found himself short of funds. When the boardroom maneuvering ended, Ford was humiliated and empty-handed while Ferrari retained solid control of his own company. Ford’s wounded pride launched an all-out assault on sports car racing, with LeMans as the ultimate goal. 
This story tells how Ford’s and Ferrari’s men struggled to design, develop, and race the fastest, most technologically advanced cars in the world.  The stakes were the biggest race in the world, millions of dollars, personal and national pride, and the lives of the participants.  Success at Ferrari required staying alive and in the good graces of the company’s namesake.  The massive corporate entity that was the Ford Motor Company demanded immediate results from its heavy financial and intellectual investment.  Emphasis is on the principle characters, primarily Phil Hill, John Surtees, Carroll Shelby, and Ken Miles.  Technical details are few, but the personalities’ perspectives give a unique take on the story that can be appreciated by the most casual automotive enthusiast.  Both sides produced heroes and compelling stories, presented here in a riveting, thoroughly researched account. 

1966 Ford GT40 Mark II at the IMS Museum

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