Le Mans 1966 'dead-heat'
Posted 26 February 2007 - 13:37
Henry Ford would a "dead heat" for a most impressive win of his cars in the great race, but it was impossible to do because of the particular conditions of Le Mans start and for the rules of the race that concerned the distance covered by the car.
Before the decision of Ford management, Ken Miles was in the lead and probably he should be the winner of the 24 Heures du Mans.
He would have become the first driver who won all three the great endurance races (Daytona, Sebring and Le Mans) in the same year.
I read sometimes (i.e in "Forza Amon !" by Eoin Young ) Ken Miles "was devastated" and "in tears after the race's end" because the victory of McLaren-Amon.
Do you know if Ken Miles blamed Bruce McLaren he was unfair in the last laps of the race ?
Chris Amon in the book "Forza Amon !" told Bruce Mc Laren passed under the chequered flag before than Miles, so he should be declarated as winner also without the "20 meters more" he covered with his car.
Do you know something special about this old story ?
Do you have some opinion about McLaren' behaviour in this situation ?
Posted 26 February 2007 - 16:09
Posted 26 February 2007 - 19:10
Give Lee Holman a call. I think there's a chance Miles wasn't concerned because the timers (Using an IBM Computer for the first time?) had him one lap up so on the last lap before 4pm. he thought he won even though McLaren slipped ahead.
Posted 26 February 2007 - 20:57
As a trustee of the Bruce McLaren Trust here in Auckland I have access to those wonderful letters Bruce wrote home to his family. Karl has seen them and he would agree they bring you very close to the man and his thoughts.
That particular letter home after the LeMans victory has always stood out in my mind ,so much so that over a period of several years I spoke to as many people involved in an attempt to substantiate some of the statements Bruce made. Some more of it is reproduced in George Beggs Book McLaren Racing Car Constructor
In general most folks seem to agree with each other ,but one man I spoke to provided some interesting variations to this story
Unfortunatly now deceased, Max Kelly, a then Shelby American employee spent hours on the phone and in person with me telling a story that he said none of his workmates or modern associates would give any credibility to.
In many photographs taken at LeMans that weekend Max can be seen in the background, he was employed in the Mclaren Amon pit. Max told me that prior to the second to last pit stop where Chris was to get into the car , he was leaning on the pit wall having a cigarette and overheard a conversation in the Miles/Hulme pit between several of the crew including the chief, where they discussed having a Goodyear man remove a wheel from the McLaren car so they could supposedly check the front brake rotors and increase the time in the pit. Miles and Hulme had been very hard on their brakes throughout the race and had already replaced rotors on their car. The Mclaren Amon car had not had the same brake problems, but it seemed they were about to.
At this time I had not revealed that I had knowledge of Bruces letter to Max, his memory was sharp and accurate as every thing he had already told me about the Can Am cars he worked on was dead nuts accurate He had said that for 30 years nobody had believed his recount of the day , and I cannot describe the look of satisfaction on his face when I showed and read that letter to him. To have had any one believe him would have sufficed but as he later said ,to have had the man himself substantiate it from the grave after all those years was precious.
There is no doubt in my mind that with what Max told me and the many discussions Ive had with Chris Amon on this subject , there was skullduggery going on.
Max also said that Ken Miles told him later that he was so upset by the instructions from Ford that as he crossed than line he stabbed the brake pedal to give the impression that McLaren had sped up to cross ahead. This apparent burst of acceleration has been reported many times in the past.
Dennys widow Greeta said he had never talked about that race.
A 2 hour tape recorded interview that Max made on this subject does exist but I am unaware who has possession of it at the present moment.
Ken Miles was well liked by the American press ,but he had blotted his copybook with Fords at the 2 prior races to LeMans to the point where Shelby was waving hammers from the pit wall. at him in absolute frustration at his not following team orders , something which the McLaren /Amon pair did well .
Posted 26 February 2007 - 22:14
Thanks for that. Please come again!
Posted 26 February 2007 - 22:37
Originally posted by Ray Bell
Duncan... that must surely be TNF's 'treat of the day'...
Posted 26 February 2007 - 23:31
But, not reported that way reported in the articles at the time. For example Manney's report in R&T...
"Miles was seen slacken off appreciably and actually brake to let McLaren cross the line first."
Quote: "Max told me that prior to the second to last pit stop where Chis was to get into the car , he was leaning on the pit wall having a cigarette and overheard a conversation in the Miles/Hulme pit between several of the crew including the chief, where they discussed having a Goodyear man remove a wheel from the McLaren car so they could supposedly check the front brake rotors and increase the time in the pit. Miles and Hulme had been very hard on their brakes throughout the race and had already replaced rotors on their car. The Mclaren Amon car had not had the same brake problems, but it seemed they were about to."
Miles reported on the LeMans brake problem(s), again, in R&T....
"Brakes are high-effort. Can't possibly lock the front wheels. They are our Achilles heel; there's just not room for a brake big enough. Running at 1650 degrees F, there's too much variation in temperature--I planned my driving so only one disc change would be necessary. Unfortunately, one of the new discs was bad and I had to stop again. At the end of the race, this set was in good condition, ready for another go."
The curved vented discs in 1966 were much better than the radial spokes used in '65, but still had failures and cracking and pad wear was still extreme. As a result Shelby's Phil Remington had devised quick-change brake pad retainers and John Holman developed a quick-change disc design.
Mk.II brake problems were expected at LeMans. Inspections and fast component replacement (if necessary) were planned for. There was a brake problem on the Miles/Hulme car and likely there was concern about the other cars brakes.
I don't really believe "there was skullduggery going on."
Posted 27 February 2007 - 00:36
Yes I have seen 1 or 2 other reports that said Miles slowed, but I have never read that it was an angry act designed to make Mclaren look like a bad sport. When you watch the film footage they were in position way before the line , there simply was no need.