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Go Like Hell: Ford, Ferrari, and Their Battle for Speed and Glory at Le Mans Paperback – June 17, 2010
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A Q&A with Go Like Hell author A.J. Baime
Question: What are you saying in your book that hasn't been said before?
Answer: No one has ever successfully written a book about cars and racing that can be easily enjoyed by someone who doesn't know a thing about cars and racing. My book accomplishes this. At the same time, reviewers who have studied this automotive era for decades have read the book and told me they were shocked to learn many things they didn't know. Specifically, no one has ever written about this story with such a focus on the business side: why it happened in the first place, how Henry Ford II had a vision to create the first pan-European auto company in the 1960s, selling Ford cars from London to the border of Russia. How could he prove that his American cars were the best in the world and that Europeans should buy them? By winning Le Mans. There's a whole foundation to this story that I've never seen fully explored elsewhere.
Q: How did you do your research?
A: For starters, I did dozens of interviews: Carroll Shelby, Lee Iacocca, Phil Hill, Mario Andretti, A. J. Foyt, Dan Gurney, John Surtees, Edsel Ford II (son of Henry Ford II), Piero Ferrari (son of Enzo Ferrari), Lloyd Ruby, plus engineers, mechanics, PR men, executives, and on and on. I conducted interviews in Italy, France, England, Los Angeles, and Florida, plus countless others over the phone from my office in New York. On top of the interviews, I read everything ever written on the subject, and I saw every bit of footage, which was a particularly good source for dialogue. In some cases, I took fast cars onto racetracks, such as Daytona and Ford's Romeo test facility north of Detroit, to try to get further into the heads of the drivers during scenes that take place at these locales.
Q: Any highlights during your research?
A: My interview with Carroll Shelby. Afterward, he drove me from his office in Gardena, California, to the Long Beach airport. The guy was getting on in years, and his vision was fading. But we were passing car after car on I-405 in a Mustang GT-H, which has ridiculous amounts of horsepower. We're talking about a guy who won the 24 Hours of Le Mans wearing chicken farmer overalls in 1959. Nearly fifty years later, he can't see much, but he can still drive.
Q: Why is this topical now?
A: What's happening in the American auto industry today is just stunning. My book is in large part about Detroit at the dawn of globalism. It's kind of like the first chapter in a long narrative that is now reaching its climax. In the 1960s, when the global car sales race began, Detroit was battling against German, British, and Japanese companies for the first time. Ford sold cars by proving on the racetrack they were better than anyone else's. We won in heroic fashion in the 1960s. We’re not winning anymore
(Photo © Timpthy White)
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
I couldn't put it down when I got off the subway; it's the best book I've read in years. I think it's billed incorrectly as a story about racing. To me it read as a compelling fight between two strong and very different characters (Mr. Ford and Mr. Ferrari). Ford represents the young gun in big business while Ferrari is the elder artisan. The two men could have been toothpick saleseman for all I cared. The magic was how AJ Baime cinematically recreated their war. It was the clash of the titans but instead of being fought on a battlefield it unfolded on a racetrack (though I was surprised by the amount of casualties involved).
Anyways whether or not you are a gearhead if you like character driven non-fiction you'll enjoy this. I have never reviewed a book but I figured many non-NASCAR folk might miss out on a good read.
A.J. Baime has written a detailed and engaging history outlining how and why the Ford Motor Company became so driven in trying to ultimately win Le Mans. The need to sell more cars was often achieved through racing victories as seen with the dominance of NASCAR by the Ford Galaxie. Le Mans dominance by Ferrari through the early 1960s also translated into sales of customer cars. There was the belief that if a manufacturer's vehicle won at Le Mans, the company must know how to build cars that can last, as well as having power.
The story that unfolds shifts between the Ferrari side and the Ford side. We get to meet the big names of the automotive world like Henry Ford II, Enzo Ferrari, and Carroll Shelby. Then we get the foundation for why Henry Ford II became so obsessed with winning at Le Mans. It would take 3 tries before his goal was fully realized in 1966. Subsequently the GT40 would dominate Le Mans in 1967, 1968, and 1969 to close out the decade. In between that we are told stories about many of the greatest race drivers that the world has ever seen ranging from men like Bruce McLaren to Phil Hill to Mario Andretti.Read more ›
-Does a great job telling the overall story surrounding Ford's winning years at LeMans, particularly 1965 and the big win in '66. The writer is advertised on the jacket as being associated with Playboy, and that's the sort of writing you should expect.
-Lost of human interest stories. The book focuses mainly on the people involved, and their businesses, rather than getting overly deep into mechanical aspects. You'll learn a lot about the people involved, from Ford executives, to drivers, to Mr. Ferrari himself.
-Lots of very well-sourced quotes and factoids from a massive list of interviews. The book contains a bibliography and index which sum to a larger size than most chapters in the book. The level of research is really quite astonishing, and that's lovely to see for such an important historical work.
-Lack of mechanical detail. Considering the Ford GT40mk.II will be considered by any gearhead to be the "real" hero of this story, you'd expect quite a bit more detail into its interior workings and development. While you do get a good general overview of the parts involved- particularly the massive engine- this isn't near the technical manual I would have liked it to be. A good example is that the book goes into the Ford "J-Car" program, which implemented a variety of experimental mechanical designs- none of which are even mentioned when discussing the car. I'll avoid spoilers, but anyone familiar with the story will know there are critical reasons why the new parts on the J-Car must be mentioned in any discussion of its history.
-Feels a bit "broad" for a car book.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I received this book from my sons for my birthday. It's one of the best books I've read in quite a while. Read morePublished 3 days ago by Richard Ingham
Fascinating story featuring names you most likely know - Ford, Iacocca, Shelby - and many you may not. Read morePublished 11 days ago by kc2kth
I am a HUGE fan of the Ford GT40 and purchased this book after seeing the author on "Jay Leno's Garage" as a guest. Read morePublished 14 days ago by Jason O
Much more intriguing and readable than I expected. Fascinating story that could have been a Hollywood script. Read morePublished 14 days ago by Edward K.
I think I read this book twice. In grade school, I read books about NASCAR and Le Mans. There was nothing, in those grade school books about the amount of preparation time and the... Read morePublished 17 days ago by Nevada Bob
Great book. Brought back memories of 1965, 66, 67 in Europe watching F1 and GT.Published 20 days ago by RC French
A gripping read, well-researched and sufficiently detailed for an appreciation of the problems faced by manufacturers and drivers of the day. Read morePublished 1 month ago by James S Walsh