If you love motorsport—and that means as a racer, autocrosser, track rat, or just a spectator—one race stands above all others for now and forever as the most gritty, down-and-dirty and epic battle of all times. It was the 1966 running of the 24 Hueres du Mans and if you’re looking for a last minute gift idea for the car crazed gearhead in your life, this could be it.
1966 was the end of a multi-year grudge match between the two automotive titans of the time: Henry Ford II (the son of the founder) and Enzo Ferrari, who needs no introduction. They couldn’t have been more different men, but they were both scrappers who always got their way…except from each other. Henry II wanted to win motor races to sell more road cars, and Enzo wanted to build more race cars to win more races (until the day he died, Ferrari was a racer at heart).
But a tentative business deal between the two went very badly, and Henry II was pissed. So he spent the next three years and millions just to kick Ferrari’s ass. In all honesty, he really wanted to humiliate him in public. Le Mans 1966 was where he exacted his revenge.
All of this has been documented to some degree in previous books (Brock Yates’ “Enzo Ferrari“; Mark Donohue’s “Unfair Advantage“; AJ Baime’s “Go Like Hell“) but now we have a magnificent documentary about it. And it comes from comic, and fellow car nut, Adam Corolla, who presents the epic story in all its well-deserved glory (and tragedy) as a 90-minute documentary called “The 24 Hour War.”
Released shortly before Thanksgiving, Corolla has teamed up with his “Winning: The Racing Life of Paul Newman” co-director Nate Adams to interview a truly amazing array of 1966 Le Mans participants including Mario Andretti, Dan Gurney, Bob Bondurant, Peter Brock, Edsel Ford II and Henry Ford III, John Surtees, Jackie Oliver, and many others who either drove for, supported or competed against Ford in the 1960’s. Racers, owners, mechanics, and engineers walk us through every important detail of the epic battle. Archival interviews and commentary from Carrol Shelby—who was key to Ford’s victory—are also woven throughout the film. Henry III and Edsel II give us the Ford family’s insider view. Piero Ferrari talks bluntly about his somewhat dysfunctional Dad.
And from start to finish, there’s also amazing historic footage of the lead-up to 1966 Le Mans, and of the race itself. The history and significance of the world’s most important endurance race is shown, as is the evolution of both American and European racing, and how they finally met at the pointy end of things in the early 1960’s.
For me, one thing stood out. Namely, the bright yellow Alan Mann Racing #8 on the grid and on the track in 1966. AMR was Ford’s designated European team to drive the GT 40 Mark II, but unfortunately it suffered a mechanical failure early in the race. This actual car—restored to its 1966 glory—is currently owned, on display and is regularly demo’d in the parking lot at the Simeone Museum in Philly, which holds a large number of historic Le Mans cars.
In any case The 24 Hour War is an outstanding documentary of one of the greatest and most epic epic motorsport events of all time. Corolla and Adams have done all of us gearheads and enthusiasts a great holiday favor in putting together such a complete and compelling accounting of a battle that’s unlikely to ever be repeated in motorsport. But we can always hope.
The 24 Hour War
Produced and Directed by Adam Carolla and Nate Adams
Download HD $14.99 (6.0 Gb)
Photos courtesy the Simeone Museum