A must on any motorsport fan’s reading list is A.J. Baime’s book “Go Like Hell: Ford, Ferrari, and their Battle For Speed and Glory at Le Mans”. The book covers the epic battle between Ford and Ferrari at Le Mans in 1966 with the advent of the Carroll Shelby-designed Ford GT 40.
The book is an absolute page-turner and unpacks the tale of how Henry Ford II and Lee Iacocca took the fight to Enzo Ferrari at the European proving ground of Le Mans. Ferrari’s dominance was unrivaled…until 1966.
The GT 40 is an icon on American racing and was the first American car to win the historic 24 Hours of Le Mans. Not just once but four times! It stood for American ambition, ingenuity and power in a world of European sports car dominance and proved that Detroit could beat the world at one of the most punishing races ever devised by man.
Perhaps the best news is that the book is being made into a film and it was announced this week that Tom Cruise and his ‘Oblivion’ director, Joseph Kosinski, are in talks with 20th Century Fox about joining the team.
According to thewrap.com’s Jeff Sneider, Cruise is angling for the role of Carroll Shelby the iconic designer of the GT 40 as well as a host of other amazing cars such as the Shelby Cobra. Fox has been noodling details since 2011 and Variety says that Brad Pitt is a potential for the leading role.
It also seems that Paramount is working on their own version of the tale as they own Shelby’s life rights as well as a previous script that had been written. Seems the folks in Hollywood know a good story when they see one.
On the heels of RUSH, a Ron Howard film about the 1976 battle between James Hunt and Niki Lauda, racing movies may be having a bit of a resurgence. Tom Cruise hasn’t been in a racing movie since his 1990 effort in Days of Thunder but Go Like Hell is a far better story than Top Gun in a car.
While RUSH could be marginal on its appeal to an American audience due to the lethargy toward Formula 1, Go Like Hell will hold a completely different opportunity because Carroll Shelby is an icon of American car design and well-known across multiple forms of American racing.
The story is the key to making this movie a juggernaut of racing lore. Films such as Grand Prix were light on story but heavy on the sight and sound of Formula 1 in the 1960’s and Go Like Hell will need to stay away from cheap special effects and any dilution of the storyline. Reading Baime’s book, you simply can’t put it down because the story is so compelling in its own right.
Sometimes movies are merely vehicles for actors to further their career but Fox would do well to focus on the story and stay as true to it as possible. Times have changed and people care less about the superstar actor such as Cruise or Pitt and more about the story and the telling of it. Tom Cruise doesn’t hold a candle to the massive story he’d like to be a part of in Go Like Hell.
I would argue that Fox could stay faithful to the story and use unknown actors and the film might do better than a Days of Thunder type version as a career-saving vehicle for Cruise. Sylvester Stalone and his Driven are examples of how shambolic Hollywood can be with big action movie stars and bad scripts.
In short, the story is too good for Hollywood tripe and it will be a shame if it is not done properly and given the respect that this monumental moment in history deserves. To do anything less marginalizes the people and places this story immortalized.
I have one question…who will play my long-admired hero Masten Gregory?