Binge Break: Pedal to the Metal — Ford v. Ferrari details a legendary rivalry in racing

Ford v. Ferrari, starring Matt Damon and Christian Bale, accurately tells the story of one of the greatest moments in motorsports.

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Binge Break: Pedal to the Metal — Ford v. Ferrari details a legendary rivalry in racing

Shivansh Ahuja, Photo Editor

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The 1960s were revolutionary in the automotive world. NASCAR pushed forward the reign of General Motors, Formula 1 found its footing in Europe, and endurance racing sparked one of the greatest rivalries in the history of racing. The film Ford v. Ferrari is a dramatic and surprisingly accurate retelling of a true story — and one of my favorite stories in motorsports — diving deep into the human side of corporate contention.

Ford V. Ferrari sets out on two goals: detailing the concrete history of two bitter racing rivals and showcasing the human element of business decisions, both of which it accomplishes admirably. Motorsports have always been a big part of my life, taking up a lot of time in my childhood and the primary reason I’m studying engineering in college.

The GT40 Mk II racecar is a prime example of the grit, emotion, and persistence put into these machines by real people, an aspect that drew me into cars in the very beginning. When I saw that this movie was being made, I honestly teared up a little. I thought back to the countless books, articles, and magazines I so emphatically tore through when I was younger, hoping to one day even come close to driving some of these legendary beasts.

The 24 Hours of Le Mans is arguably the most prestigious endurance race in the world. American up-and-comer Carroll Shelby (played by Matt Damon) won the race in 1959 in the iconic Aston Martin DBR1. Named after the French city where it’s held, the race was then dominated by Italian racing team Scuderia Ferrari in the early ‘60s.

Meanwhile, on American soil, Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts) is looking for a way for his company, Ford Motor Co., to appeal to a younger audience. Marketing mogul Lee Iacocca (Jon Bernthal) suggests that Ford should enter the racing scene. Knowing about Iacocca’s impact and legacy on American cars, I was pleasantly surprised with Bernthal’s performance; it was pleasant to see him add personality to the historical figure.

When Ford II declares it would take far too long to become relevant in the sport, Iacocca proposes buying Ferrari, which had been struggling financially off the track.

Iacocca then makes a trip to close a deal with Enzo Ferrari, founder of the team. After seeing just how much control the deal would give Ford, Ferrari vehemently declines, throwing personal jabs and insults to the American marque. This infuriates Ford II, who then decides it’s time to throw down whatever money and manpower necessary to accomplish one goal: beat Ferrari at their own game.

Since his win, Shelby has opened a car shop in California. His tuned sports cars have made a name for themselves in American racing. One of the racers he invites to be a test driver for his badge is Ken Miles (Christian Bale, who’s rightfully receiving Oscar buzz). Miles brings a raw, honest energy to whatever endeavor he pursues, not the least of which is racing. Unafraid to speak his mind for the world to hear, Miles does not hold back on anything.

With his new mission from up top, Iacocca approaches Shelby and asks him to lead the charge in Ford’s racing expedition. Shelby accepts, and commissions Miles to be his driver in this effort.

Shelby and Miles start with Ford’s initial attempt at competitive racing: the GT40. After a number of drives dissecting everything wrong with the car – and not quietly – Miles offers his input to Shelby, who engineers one of the most legendary American cars ever built: the GT40 Mk II. All is looking well for the team to get to racing. All, except one thing.

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Ford’s new racing division, headed by Leo Beebe (Josh Lucas), doesn’t see Miles as a face they want representing their brand. They find him far too outspoken and unfiltered to be a part of the team, no matter how much he’s helped with the design or how good a driver he is. Beebe is dismissive of the efforts put forth by Shelby and his team, wanting his way and sticking close to the side of Ford II to get it.

Shelby is now placed in a predicament: stick with the suits giving him a job, or side with the driver he’s worked with for years. He goes through countless efforts to give Miles every chance to drive the car they’ve spent inordinate time perfecting.

Ford v. Ferrari provided much more than simply reading. Damon and Bale, specifically, add a chemistry that, through the entire film, hardly wavers, and proves that loyalty goes a long way. If nothing else, Ken Miles reminds all of us why we drift corners, shift gears, and burn rubber: heart.

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