I’m sure some of you will be familiar with this iconic image of the three Ford GT40s crossing the finish line at Le Man in 1966. This was Ford’s third attempt to conquer La Sarthe having failed previously in ’64 and ’65. The story goes that Henry Ford was about to purchase Ferrari from Enzo himself when the deal fell through. Ford then sought revenge. Their aim was to beat Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, a race which Ferrari had won consecutively since 1960. It was looking promising for Ford in ’66 with Ken Miles (car #1 above) having taken victory at the 24 Hours of Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring already that year.
Heading into the final minutes of the ’66 race, Miles was certain to take victory with the #2 car of Bruce McLaren & Chris Amon in second place and Ronnie Bucknam & Hutcherson in third place in the #5 GT40. The victory would give Miles his first Le Mans win and a triple crown of endurance races for ’66 having already won at Daytona and Sebring. Ford wanted to celebrate their dominance with a photo finish of the three cars crossing the line together. Miles crossed the line first with McLaren close behind. However, the ACO ruled that because the McLaren / Amon car had started from further down the field at the beginning of the race, it had covered more distance over the course of twenty four hours and awarded them the victory. The deciding gap was just eight metres and remains to this day as the closest finish to a Le Mans race. Miles was denied his Le Mans win. He was killed later in 1966 testing a Ford prototype racecar.
The above image which shows the McLaren / Amon #2 car “leading” Miles was actually taken further up the start / finish straight after the cars had already completed the race.
Photograph Courtesy of Ford UK