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Ford v Ferrari - A Racer's Review: It's not a documentary; it's a movie that's based somewhat on fact.

Published on Wed, Nov 20, 2019

By: Doug Stokes

LACar Movie Review
“Ford v Ferrari – A Racer’s Review” by Dave Wolin

By the time you read this, “Ford vs Ferrari” will likely already be gone from theaters; soon to be streamed or available on Blu-Ray or DVD.

If you didn’t get to see it on the big screen, you’ve missed out … but do see it in any way possible. In my official all-time ranking of racing films, it’s a strong fourth, in a field led by “Grand Prix”, with all it’s hokey romance, “Le Mans”, with its effectively real-time race scenes and “Rush”, which was great even with a clunky script. Some even say that the film should have seen director Ron Howard nominated for an Oscar.

This is a 2 1/2 hour film and I have to confess that a 90-minute film sometimes gets me anxious to leave before the credits roll, in this case, I was awake, alert and along for the whole ride.

For purists, critical of many of the personal/historic aspects of “Ford vs Ferrari”, I can just offer this friends:

  “Relax … it’s not a documentary; it’s a movie that’s based somewhat on fact”.     

I must say though, that it was quite nice to see great racing designer/fabricator Phil Remington given some prominence in the pic; but there’s strangely no mention of any of the other key Shelby employees nor Miles’ co-driver at Le Mans, Denny Hulme.

Spoiler alert: Not to give away the ending but Ford wins at Le Mans in 1966 (the losses of ’64 and ’65 are somehow not mentioned). The Daytona shots were filmed at Fontana, and at an airport out near Agua Dulce, a road in Georgia doubled for the Mulsanne Straight and good old Willow Springs* plays a big part in the film.

(Sorry, but Riverside closed in 1988 and is now a shopping mall**).

More fast facts that don’t really have any impact on how good the film include: If you knew Carroll Shelby, you know he was not (quite) as nice a guy (but taller) as Matt Damon plays him. The same with Ken Miles, only in his case, the Brit really was not quite as hard to get along with as Christian Bale plays him.  And the FoMoCo bad guys?  They were pretty bad, just not (quite) as bad as they’re represented here.

The bottom line here: see the movie. But even better yet, have a racing movie binge weekend; watch Grand Prix, Le Mans, and Rush too.  And, if you want to see some of the short films that have set the standard in racing films, get a look at the Racing History Project’s YouTube Channel. – Dave Wolin

Editor’s Note: Reviewer Dave Wolin is indeed a “racer” … having competed in all sorts of sports and stock car events from NASCAR Trucks to Can-Am cars in his over 50 years in the sport. Besides reviewing the occasional movie for these pages, Dave is a successful motorsport marketing consultant as well as the founder/proprietor of The Racing History Project, a non-profit organization that promotes special events celebrating many of the great periods and people of motor racing. He did indeed know Mister Shelby and is way taller than Matt Damon. – DS

Editor’s Asterisks: *GT40’s (and Shelby Cobras) did indeed, test at Willow Springs. ** Please insert the word “DAMN” before “shopping mall”. – DS

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