Matt Damon and Christian Bale’s new movie Ford v Ferrari has piqued people’s interest in Ken Miles’ death.
The flick follows the true story of the time Ford almost bought Ferrari. The deal was all set to go until one detail derailed it. Ferrari head honcho, Enzo Ferrari, learned he would lose control of his precious racing team in the deal.
Carroll Shelby, played by Matt Damon in the movie, was a major American race car builder in the ’60s. The goal was for Shelby to develop a car that would beat Ferrari at Le Mans in France in 1966.
Shelby knew he needed to bring in a person to not only engineer the car but drive it as well. Enter Ken Miles, played by Christian Bale in the flick.
#ThrowbackThursday Ken Miles talks to Carroll Shelby in the pits during the 1966 Le Mans race. He and Denny Hulme were meant to be the official first place winners except they were ordered to slow down as a PR stunt so Ford could have a photo finish with all three of his cars pic.twitter.com/TP1KYdyjLP
— Bourdyot (@bourdyot_) November 14, 2019
Ken was known off the track for being a WWII vet with a cockney accent. He was unbelievable on the track and in the garage. Ken was in his element in both places, and there was no denying it.
The two men had a turbulent partnership, but that doesn’t stop them from going up against Ferrari at the race. Their journey to beat Ferrari plays out on the big screen, including the shocking death of Ken.
He died in a fiery car accident on August 17, 1966, at the Riverside Raceway. Ken’s young son Peter and Shelby witnessed him getting into the car, driving out on the tack, and moments later, the vehicle burst into flames.
At least that is how the movie portrays it, with no explanation as to what went wrong on that fateful day.
There are several speculations as to what went wrong on at the racetrack. Ken was so skilled at driving that it is hard to believe he made an error on the track that turned so drastic. Some believe driver error was involved in the accident, but no proof was ever discovered.
Ken’s obituary in the Desert Sun in 1966 said the car “mysteriously bounded out of control. The car went off the track at the easiest curve to negotiate, a spokesman said, which drew speculation that the accident may have been caused by a mechanical failure.”
A very odd part of the #FORDvFERRARI story: back in the late '80s, there was a man in Wisconsin who claimed he was Ken Miles and actually survived the crash that supposedly killed him.
— nascarman (@nascarman_rr) November 15, 2019
There have been several conspiracy theories over the years claiming Ken survived the crash and walked away from racing. Nothing has, of course, even been proven to support these claims.
Ken Miles’ mysteriously death will likely remain a mystery. If there was a definite cause of death, it died with Ken, Carroll Shelby, and anyone else at the track that day.
Unexplainable accidents happen all the time in the racing world. It is sad but true.