Why did Ken Miles place second at Le Mans?

July 12 Caden Fairburn 0 Comments

The Controversial Finish of the 1966 Le Mans

The 1966 Le Mans race is remembered as one of the most controversial in the history of motor racing. The race was expected to be a showcase of the top racing talents of the time but ended controversially, eventually leading to Ken Miles' second place finish. For those not familiar with Le Mans, it's a 24-hour endurance race held annually in France. It's considered one of the most prestigious automobile races in the world, and the 1966 edition was particularly significant as it marked the end of Ferrari's dominance and the beginning of Ford's reign in the racing world.
The controversy arose when Ford, in a bid to create a memorable photo finish, orchestrated a tie between their three leading cars, one of which was driven by Ken Miles. However, this plan backfired when the race officials declared another Ford car the winner due to a technicality, relegating Ken Miles to second place.

The Role of Ford's Management

Ken Miles was leading the race and was set to become the first driver to win Sebring, Daytona, and Le Mans in the same year – a remarkable feat known as the Triple Crown of endurance racing. However, Ford had other plans. They wanted their three leading cars to cross the finish line together, creating a perfect PR moment.
However, Ford's management failed to take into account the rules of the race. According to the regulations, in the event of a tie, the car that started further back on the grid is declared the winner because it covered a greater distance. This rule led to the disqualification of Miles' apparent victory.

Ken Miles: The Man Behind the Wheel

Ken Miles was not just a talented race car driver; he was an integral part of the Ford team. Born in England, Miles moved to the United States in the 1950s. He quickly became known for his technical knowledge and driving talent. Miles was instrumental in the development of the Ford GT40, the car that eventually ended Ferrari's dominance at Le Mans.
Despite his obvious talent and contribution to the team, the decision by Ford's management at the 1966 Le Mans race seemed to overlook Miles' individual achievements in favor of a corporate publicity stunt.

The Aftermath and Legacy

The decision to place Ken Miles second in the 1966 Le Mans race was a source of controversy and disappointment. It tarnished what could have been a crowning achievement in Miles' career. Despite this, Miles remained with Ford and continued to contribute to their racing success.
Unfortunately, just two months after the Le Mans race, Miles died in a tragic accident while testing the Ford J-car, a prototype for the next generation of the Ford GT. His death was a significant loss to the world of motor racing, but his legacy lives on. Ken Miles is remembered as a remarkable driver and a pivotal figure in Ford's racing history.

Reflections on the 1966 Le Mans Race

Looking back on the 1966 Le Mans race, it's clear that Ken Miles was robbed of a well-deserved victory. His talent, dedication, and significant contribution to the sport of motor racing cannot be overshadowed by a single controversial decision.
While the controversy surrounding the 1966 Le Mans race is a black mark on Ford's racing history, it also serves as a reminder of the importance of individual achievement in a sport often dominated by corporate interests. The story of Ken Miles is a testament to the spirit of competition and the indomitable will of a true racing legend.

Caden Fairburn

Caden Fairburn (Author)

I'm Caden Fairburn, a sports enthusiast with a passion for all things motorsports. As an expert in the field, I love sharing my knowledge and insights with others who share my interests. I've been writing about motorsports for several years now, and I take great pride in providing engaging and informative content for my readers. Whether it's the latest news, in-depth analysis, or simply sharing my personal experiences, I'm always eager to dive into the world of motorsports and share my passion with others.

Type your Comment

Your E-mail Address is secured. Required Fields are marked (*)