Ken Miles

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Ken Miles

Postby RS-60 mark » Sat Dec 14, 2019 12:07 pm

By now, everyone has seen Ford vs. Ferrari. If you didn't know who Ken Miles was, you do now. But unless you were still a pre-teen in 1960 who had grown up through the 50's in a home immersed in the southern California sports car club scene, you might not know who Ken Miles was before the GT-40 days. Of course as child growing up I had no idea of the significance of my surroundings. To me, I was just a kid dragged along to another somebody's garage, another race track, or to a rallye, or to some car club meeting or party with car club friends. To me, getting a bag of popcorn on Turn 6 at the Riverside Grand Prix was more exiting than just another car race.
But through the mid to late 50's, when I was old enough to have some cognizance of awareness, Ken Miles is the one name that still stands in my memory today above all the other household racing names of the era. And as a youngster I knew every time a Porsche with #50 on the door came around the corner that I should pay attention, because it is special to watch. (I didn't know why it was special, just that it was.) To my Mom and Dad, Ken Miles in a race car walked on water. But I was just a kid, and didn't understand.

So Ann and I went to see Ford vs. Ferrari. Now I understand.

But that movie story all happened in the mid-60's, and no doubt carries a load of Hollywood glorification. So in real life, what was it my parents admired about Ken Miles so much in the 50's? Today I read this reprint of a 1966 Road & Track article. Now I really understand.
https://www.roadandtrack.com/motorsport ... d-le-mans/

PS: Read it to the bottom for response by Mollie Miles.
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Re: Ken Miles

Postby Larry Jowdy » Sat Dec 14, 2019 1:46 pm

In 1962 a friend and I took a bus from Highland Park (north of Los Angeles) to the annual Los Angeles car show.

Today, it's held at the LA Convention Center but back then it was at the Pan Pacific Auditorium in the Fairfax District. 1962 was the first year Shelby introduced the Cobra and it was initially powered by a 260 cid Ford engine. Shelby or Ford had a display at the show and Shelby was there. There was a continuous loop film playing on a large movie screen of Ken Miles driving on a race track (don't remember which track) and the emphasis of the film was how well the car handled. Ken was drifting through every corner as smooth as silk.
That was the start of a fascination with everything Shelby and with Ken Miles as the driver.
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Re: Ken Miles

Postby EEricson » Sun Dec 15, 2019 6:31 am

"It was for practice before the last or next-to-last Torrey Pines 6-hr race and Ken kept coming through the left hand sweeper past the ocean turn faster and faster. We were still saying to each other, 'Miles sure looks funny in a Porsche, doesn't he?' when Ken got off the road, hit a ditch and flipped spectacularly. The car landed on its wheels, Ken got out, looked at the battered car while stretching his back and accepted a ride back to the pits with, I think, Phil Hill. Ken didn’t drive in the 6-hr race that Saturday but on Sunday, in another von Neumann Spyder, he won the under-1500-cc main event."

My god.
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Re: Ken Miles

Postby TomD » Sun Dec 15, 2019 8:50 am

Art Evans put together a book about Ken, mostly remembrances, articles and pictures (very well done). Art Evans father gave the eulogy at Ken’s funeral as he was a close friend of the family. If you can locate a copy it is worth the time.
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Re: Ken Miles

Postby RVosari » Sun Dec 15, 2019 8:59 am

Having heard interminable debates over the years regarding who was better Jim Clark, Mr. Senna and on and on, it is clear that the old guys were very tough…witness Mike Hailwood, Brambilla and AJ Foyt.

They ran Le Mans with 2 drivers…now it is at least 3 and sometimes 4 !

I have witnessed many current drivers who do well in one category or class fall on their face in another.

Jim Clark could run Indy, and AJ could drive virtually anything, anywhere…they just got in worked up to speed and off they went.

And keep in mind that Moss might have gotten $ 5K a race, Jackie Stewart maybe $ 40 K…even the back-markers today in F1 get Hundreds of $ Thousands !

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