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06/02/2020

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KEN MILES - Everything You Need to Know | Up to Speed
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  • (engine whirs)
  • - Whoop, come on.
  • - He's the man with the plan from the land of Britain,
  • a race car driver with a never quit attitude.
  • He took on Ferrari
  • in one of the most famous races of all time,
  • a war hero that survived the beaches of Normandy
  • in World War II, a smart mouth wrencher
  • with skills like no other on the track.
  • He's the unsung hero of Ford's
  • championship-winning Le Mans team.
  • This is everything you need to know to get up to speed
  • on Teddy Teabag, Mister Sidebite himself,
  • Ken
  • Miles!
  • (upbeat music)
  • Guys, I wanna send a huge thanks to Ford versus Ferrari
  • for sponsoring this very special episode of Up to Speed.
  • If you haven't seen the movie yet,
  • you really, really have to.
  • It's a must see for Donut fans.
  • The story of Ford versus Ferrari
  • is one of the best ever in cars.
  • I mean, we're practically obsessed with it.
  • We did a four-part series on our podcast,
  • which is like almost five hours long.
  • We've done two episodes of Up to Speed on it.
  • And while most people probably know
  • who Carroll Shelby is by now,
  • and probably know who Henry Ford is by now, or Enzo Ferrari,
  • it's a shame that a lot of people
  • probably don't know who Ken Miles,
  • one of the baddest dudes in the history of cars, is.
  • The first three minutes of this movie
  • are some of the most exciting three minutes
  • that I've ever seen in a movie.
  • The way they shot the racing was mostly practical.
  • A lot of the guys' sons, including Ken's son,
  • drove in the film.
  • So please, do yourself a favor.
  • Get Ford versus Ferrari on digital now
  • and Blu-ray, February 11.
  • I'm so stoked that studios make movies like this.
  • And the only way that they're gonna keep making
  • movies like this, movies for us, is if we watch them.
  • Kenneth Henry Miles was born on November 1st, 1918
  • in the Royal town of Sutton Coldfield, England.
  • The son of Eric Miles and Clarice Jarvis,
  • Ken was such a badass he didn't even need a hospital
  • to be freakin' born in.
  • He was birthed in the living room
  • of his grandfather's house.
  • And continuing this life of being shweet,
  • when he was 11, he begged his buddy to let him ride
  • his 350cc Triumph Trials bike.
  • Why was an 11-year-old hanging out
  • with a guy who owned a motorcycle?
  • Now the Triumph gave him the rush
  • of going fast on the pavement
  • and also taught him what happens when you crash,
  • because on his way home one night, he hit a pile of stones
  • left behind by some road menders
  • and wrapped his buddy's Triumph around a light pole,
  • breaking his 11-year-old nose
  • and knocking out three of his teeth.
  • Why is this 11-year-old riding a motorcycle at night?
  • And by time he was 15, he had purchased an Austin 7 saloon
  • that he converted into a special.
  • That means he built it into a two-seater Sportster.
  • He was too young to go race his newly beloved car,
  • but that didn't stop him from asking his then girlfriend
  • and future wife, Molly to paint the car
  • in British racing green.
  • While Miles had a knack
  • for working on all things mechanical,
  • he struggled in school.
  • After a thwarted attempt to run away to America,
  • the 16-year-old dropped out of school
  • to take an apprenticeship at Wolseley Motors.
  • Now I've barely even heard of Wolseley,
  • but apparently, they used to be
  • one of the largest manufacturers in England.
  • Miles started his apprenticeship in 1934,
  • and his first position was
  • sweeping floors.
  • But over time, he moved up the ladder,
  • from a fabricator to the assembly line.
  • During that time, he drove back and forth to work
  • on a Velocette motorcycle.
  • Fun fact, Velocette was a small British family-owned outfit
  • that still holds a record with their single-cylinder
  • Venom motorcycle for running 24 hours
  • at an average pace of 100.5 miles per hour.
  • Can you freaking,
  • can you imagine that?
  • And Miles rode it like a race bike.
  • He ended up having to sell his beloved two-wheeler
  • after getting his license suspended for speeding.
  • Well, he was speeding, and then he flipped off a cop.
  • On the heels of completing his apprenticeship,
  • just eight weeks later, World War II broke out
  • and Miles was shipped off to war
  • like many young men of his generation.
  • Just like at Wolseley,
  • he started his army career at the bottom.
  • He first worked in an anti-aircraft unit
  • before being transferred into a training regiment
  • where he taught soldiers how to drive army vehicles.
  • He was then transferred into the Royal Corps
  • of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering.
  • Unlike his primary school days,
  • he excelled in the engineering courses
  • and graduated with the highest marks in his class,
  • freakin' valedictorian of his army.
  • His ability to understand all things mechanical
  • and ability to work on them led him to being placed
  • in a tank reconnaissance and recovery unit.
  • Not only did he operate and repair busted British tanks.
  • He stormed the beaches of Normandy in a tank on D-Day.
  • After the war, Miles retired from the army
  • as a staff sergeant, went back to Wolseley Motors
  • as a toolmaker, and more importantly, started race--
  • (door opens)
  • He started racin'.
  • The car that brought him the most success on his home soil
  • was a Frazer Nash equipped with a supercharged Mercury V8.
  • Hell's bells, baby.
  • The combination of a lightweight, all alloy British coupe
  • with a high horsepower American engine
  • made it a great race car.
  • In his first race at Silverstone,
  • he placed second in the over 3,000cc class.
  • It was only one month later
  • that Miles got his first taste of victory
  • in the Prescott Hill Climb.
  • While working with a friend building 500cc race cars,
  • Miles was offered a job as a service manager
  • for Go Industries in Southern California.
  • Go was the main distributor
  • for MG and Morris cars in the western US.
  • Their general manager had previously
  • worked with Miles in England
  • and knew that his skill at working on British cars
  • made him the perfect person for the job.
  • So Miles accepted the position
  • and moved his family out to the Golden State.
  • Hmm.
  • Every time I drive down PCH,
  • I'm a little bit proud of myself.
  • Within four months of moving to California,
  • Ken started racing stateside.
  • His first outing was at Pebble Beach
  • in a Go-supplied MG TD Midget.
  • He took the bone stock MG to a ninth-place finish,
  • a feat that Road and Track magazine dubbed remarkable.
  • In his off time, Miles chased perfection
  • by working on his own custom MG, the R1.
  • The R1 was designed by Miles, and apart from the engine,
  • was built using stock MG and Morris parts.
  • The hand-rolled, all aluminum body
  • and a custom 1,500cc engine putting out 83 hrsprs
  • made the car quite zippy for the time.
  • With Miles behind the wheel, the R1 went on to win
  • every single race they entered that year, 10 races in all.
  • That's a lot of winning.
  • Miles sold the car to Sy Yader and went to work
  • on his new creation, aptly named the R2 Shingle.
  • Now, the Shingle was similar to the R1
  • but with changes to the chassis design, ride height,
  • and even the angle at which the engine was mounted,
  • all things Ken engineered to help make the car fast.
  • The envelope body with flared fenders
  • that went over the front and rear wheels
  • made the R2 unmistakable on the track.
  • To promote the MG brand,
  • the front had an MG style grille and headlights.
  • It's kinda like NASCAR today.
  • It's like not actually a Ford Mustang or a Toyota Supra,
  • but it's got the badges and the headlights.
  • Early in the R2's career, Miles won a race in Palm Springs
  • only to be disqualified for having wide fenders.
  • So he fixed the fenders in the pits
  • and won the consolation race later in the day.
  • The day after, he raced it in the under 1,500cc
  • main event again and beat none other
  • than the rebel without a cause himself, James Dean.
  • Ken's time with Go ended after a disagreement,
  • so he went to work with John von Neumann,
  • racing Porsche Spiders.
  • Just north of San Diego was the Torrey Pines racetrack
  • that was about to be turned into a golf course,
  • which is lame.
  • Race cars rule.
  • Golf carts sorta rule.
  • The track was having one last race before construction began
  • and Miles entered with his new Porsche.
  • In his first time in the German steed, he flipped the car.
  • Luckily for him, von Neumann was a Porsche distributor,
  • so he was able to get him another 550 to drive.
  • Smart move on Neumann's part
  • because during Sunday's main event,
  • 35,000 spectators watched Miles
  • pilot the German sports car to win.
  • The closest car was 16 seconds behind it.
  • But in those days, the top three in the under 1,500 class
  • were invited to race
  • in the over 1,500cc modified main class.
  • As the winner of Sunday semi main,
  • Miles finished third in the big boy class
  • from the back of the pack, showing that he can race
  • with the best of them.
  • The dude would race for an hour, win,
  • take a quick breather to work on his car,
  • then go race for another hour against a new set of racers
  • with faster cars and still podium?
  • Are you freakin' kidding me?
  • I recorded a podcast this morning and I'm exhausted.
  • Ken drove a Bobtail Cooper with a Porsche engine
  • soon after racing Porsche Spiders.
  • A Cooper with a Porsche engine at the time
  • was called a Pooper, obviously, because it pooped out wins.
  • The Pooper with Miles behind the wheel
  • dominated SCCA's West Coast F class races in '57 and '58.
  • But because Miles was racing a special for von Neumann,
  • who was a major distributor of Porsches in the western US,
  • the Porsche boys in Germany had a beef with him.
  • They didn't like that a Porsche dealer
  • was sponsoring a driver
  • who beat factory-built Porsches with a Cooper chassis
  • even if it did have a Porsche motor under the hood.
  • And quite frankly, I see where they're coming from.
  • So he left the von Neumann camp
  • to race for Bob Estes and Otto Zipper.
  • Names back in the '50s totally freakin' slapped.
  • James Pumphrey. (blows raspberry)
  • Otto Zipper. (blows raspberry)
  • Zipper bought a Porsche RS Spider off of von Neumann
  • as a package deal with the race car he also got Miles.
  • From '58 to '63, Miles won 38 out of the 44 races he entered
  • in his number 50 Porsche.
  • The '60s came around
  • and Miles started his own business adventure,
  • opening up his own tuning shop in North Hollywood
  • called Ken Miles Limited.
  • Now, he was an amazing mechanic,
  • and he's obviously an amazing race car driver.
  • But unfortunately, he wasn't a very good businessman.
  • And after moving the shop around three times,
  • the IRS caught up with mister MG and locked the doors.
  • (laid back band music)
  • When you don't pay your taxes,
  • the IRS finds you and they take your stuff.
  • Luckily for him, all that winning he did in the SCCA
  • had already caught the attention of one dude
  • by the name of--
  • - My name is Carroll Shelby, and performance is my business.
  • - So a little side note here.
  • Miles was known to be outspoken and a bit temperamental.
  • I can relate.
  • And he was once banned from the SCCA for six months
  • for discourteous and unsportsmanlike conduct.
  • I think that the guy just marched
  • to the beat of his own drum,
  • and all these freaking jerkos couldn't handle it.
  • But whatever he did impressed Shelby enough
  • to hire him as a competition manager.
  • And before he joined the Shelby outfit,
  • the Cobras were not very successful.
  • While he was never hired to be a driver,
  • Carroll Shelby could not ignore the fact
  • that Miles was the best driver on his team.
  • Miles knew how to make the cars better.
  • He knew how to do it himself.
  • He was like Zach Jobe.
  • Only a year after being hired as competition manager,
  • Miles became the chief test driver for Shelby American.
  • As Carroll Shelby describes it,
  • Miles was the heart and soul of the testing program.
  • Miles helped turn the Cobra
  • into the legend that it is today.
  • (engine whirs)
  • He achieved a cult-like status in the SoCal racing scene
  • as one of the most prolific private racers of the time,
  • keyword, private.
  • Regardless of the amount of talent that he had,
  • he was never chosen by a factory outfit to do their racing
  • until the Ford GT came around.
  • In 1965, Shelby was tasked with the responsibility
  • of building the GT 40 for Ford to beat Ferrari at Le Mans.
  • Two years orlier,
  • orlier?
  • - [Announcer] See if you don't think
  • this is the most exciting car in America today,
  • the Corvette Stingray.
  • - The Corvette was the top sports car of the time
  • and Ford had nothing comparable.
  • One way they wanted to drum up sales
  • was to win the most prestigious race
  • in the history of racing, my favorite,
  • the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
  • The problem was Ford had zero experience endurance racing.
  • At the time, Ferrari were the kings of Le Mans,
  • and they just happened to be on the verge of bankruptcy.
  • Henry Ford II, aka Hank the Deuce,
  • wanted to buy the Italian manufacturer,
  • effectively gaining them years of racing experience
  • with one swish of a big old pen.
  • The deal looked imminent,
  • but in the 11th hour, Ferrari backed out
  • and left Ford with his pants around his ankles.
  • Hank the Deuce vowed revenge and gave the order.
  • - I don't care what it costs.
  • We're gonna build a race car.
  • - A new division was formed to build a car to beat Ferrari.
  • It was called the Advanced Vehicle department.
  • Sick.
  • After months of grueling 12-hour days, on April 1st, 1964,
  • the GT40 was finally completed.
  • The team had three GT40s ready to go for the race.
  • Ken Miles wasn't behind the wheel
  • of any of them at this point.
  • While GT40s were crashing and burning, Shelby's Daytona
  • finished fourth overall and won the GT class.
  • At the end of the race, none of the three GT40s had finished
  • while Ferrari finished first, second and third.
  • It was a disastrous beginning to the GT40 program.
  • Ford noticed that Shelby was doing pretty good
  • with their Daytona coupe, and on January 27th, 1965,
  • they announced to the world
  • that they were teaming up with Shelby,
  • not only on the build
  • but also to race all of Ford's competition cars.
  • Ford set its sights on using the GT40
  • to win the big three endurance races that year,
  • the Daytona Continental 2000 kilometer race in February,
  • the 12 Hours of Sebring In March, and the holy grail,
  • the mother of them all, boy,
  • the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.
  • Shelby got a new space to develop the GT40.
  • Unlike his old two-car garage in Venice,
  • which is right there, right over there,
  • the new plant stretched out over 12.5 acres of land
  • bordering Los Angeles International Airport,
  • which is right over there.
  • The site had two hangars that were used
  • by North American Aviation to build Sabre military jets.
  • It's only fitting that the car
  • meant to do battle against Ferrari would be built
  • in the same place that freakin' jets were made!
  • Using computers mounted inside the car
  • and scotch tape and yarn on the outside,
  • they found 76 horsepower was being lost
  • due to inefficient air ducting.
  • By just changing the ducting, they gained--
  • What power, baby?
  • Where have you been?
  • Oh, you know,
  • doin' stuff.
  • Ken Miles and co-driver Lloyd Ruby
  • drove the new and improved GT40 to victory
  • in the 2,000-kilometer Daytona race,
  • beating Ferrari and really pissing off Enzo.
  • Next on the list was the 12 Hours of Sebring.
  • Ferrari backed out of the race
  • because, well, he didn't wanna lose again.
  • And Ken Miles and Bruce McLaren
  • won the GTP class in the GT40.
  • Yes, that Bruce McLaren.
  • Finally, the GT40 looked capable of winning the next race
  • on their list, the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
  • The start of the race went really well for the Ford team.
  • Immediately, the two GT40 Mark IIs took the lead,
  • followed by Ferrari chasing them
  • at nearly 195 miles per hour in third place.
  • By 38 minutes in, they were holding a 38-second lead.
  • Then, the transmissions began to fail in the Fords.
  • At 8 p.m., Bruce McLaren pulled into the pit
  • to switch driving duties with Miles.
  • And as soon as Miles pulled out,
  • the car shredded its transmission and lost its gears.
  • Soon after, the other Mark II suffered a similar fate.
  • The race Ford desperately wanted to win
  • wasn't gonna happen.
  • After that defeat, Ford created their own Le Mans committee.
  • A group of roughly 20 men met every two weeks
  • until the next race to brainstorm ideas
  • and solutions that would help Ford finally win Le Mans.
  • Hank the Deuce decided the best way to ensure victory
  • would be to divide the Le Mans effort
  • into two separate teams, Carroll Shelby with Ken miles
  • and Holman Moody with his NASCAR team.
  • - Hey, how come these guys pit so much faster than we do.
  • - They got a goddamn NASCAR crew, that's why.
  • - The in-house competition didn't seem to faze Shelby
  • with Miles behind the wheel.
  • They won the 24-hour Daytona Continental again
  • and the 12 Hours of Sebring again,
  • setting Miles up for the Triple Crown
  • if he could win at Le Mans.
  • That would make Miles the first driver
  • to ever pull that off.
  • The 1966 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans
  • didn't go as smoothly as they had hoped.
  • The race used to begin with the driver outside of the car
  • running across the track before hopping in and driving off.
  • It's called a Le Mans start.
  • But as Miles got into his seat,
  • he slammed his helmet on the doorframe and bent it.
  • He was forced into the pits
  • after only one lap to fix his door,
  • which put him in last place.
  • But doing what miles did best, (beep) fought back,
  • back to first place!
  • With the race about to end, Miles was minutes away
  • from scoring the Triple Crown.
  • But just winning wasn't good enough.
  • The GT40s were in first, second and third.
  • And Hank the Deuce wanted a picture of all three Fords
  • crossing the finish line together, showing the world
  • the dominance of the GT40 at Le Mans.
  • I mean, he clawed his way up from last place
  • to get into first.
  • And only minutes away from winning
  • the biggest race in the world,
  • he was told to let second place catch up.
  • That's absurd!
  • The guy was a hothead.
  • He had a reputation, but he was a damn good employee.
  • So he slowed down to let the second and third GT40s catch up
  • and they all finished together.
  • It was obvious to everyone that Miles won the race
  • and earned his Triple Crown that day,
  • but the Le Mans rules state
  • that if a race ends in a dead heat,
  • the driver who started further back
  • at the beginning of the race will be given the victory.
  • So Bruce McLaren and his teammate started eight meters,
  • 20 feet behind Miles and his teammate.
  • And this meant that Miles was second.
  • - [Announcer] Here is a clarification.
  • Though the drivers finished the race in a heat,
  • McLaren has been ruled the winner.
  • - The team appealed the official rules
  • and argued that Miles should have won,
  • but the rules is rules.
  • But being the good sport that,
  • and great team player that he was,
  • when he met up with McLaren at the pits,
  • he grabbed him and he gave him a hug.
  • He even told reporters,
  • "Please be careful how you report what I've said.
  • "I work for these people.
  • "They've been awfully good to me."
  • The journalists were prepared to tear into Ford
  • for allowing their champion driver to be cheated
  • out of his win on a technicality, but they didn't
  • because Ken asked them.
  • But Ken Miles did the most Ken Miles thing possible.
  • (engine whirs)
  • He started testing the new generation of the GT40
  • called the J-car to prepare for next year's race.
  • On August 17th, 1966,
  • (sighs) Miles spent the morning tearing up
  • Riverside International Raceway when all of a sudden,
  • the car veered sharply to the right
  • and took flight as it tumbled down a 10-foot embankment.
  • First responders were almost immediately on the scene
  • and they found Miles laying on his back
  • more than 15 feet away from the car.
  • The crash was so violent
  • that his seat belt had been torn from its mount,
  • ejecting him from the cockpit.
  • Now, news of the crash made headlines around the world
  • with one simple phrase.
  • Ken Miles is dead.
  • His obituary in Road and Track magazine
  • stated that no one who knew Ken's driving can believe
  • that the accident resulted from a mistake on his part.
  • Shelby made a final statement regarding the accident.
  • He said, "We really don't know what caused it.
  • "The car just disintegrated.
  • "We have nobody to take his place.
  • "Nobody.
  • "He was our baseline, our guiding point.
  • "He was the backbone of our program.
  • "There will never be another Ken Miles."
  • If you wanna know more about Ken Miles
  • and his amazing Le Mans journey, do yourself a favor.
  • Get Ford versus Ferrari on digital now
  • and Blu-ray February 11th.
  • It's a really awesome telling of a really awesome story.
  • Thank you again to Ford versus Ferrari
  • for helping us tell the incredible story of Ken Miles,
  • and thank you guys for watching Donut Media.
  • If you're not already subscribed,
  • go hit that subscribe button and that bell
  • so you don't miss any of our videos.
  • We're trying to get to the point
  • where we're putting one out every day.
  • Did you see the movie?
  • Let me know what you liked in the comments below.
  • How did we do in our coverage?
  • Remember to tell people that you love that you love them.
  • And as always, I love you.

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Get Up To Speed on Ken Miles, the legendary racecar driver featured in the movie, On Blu-ray & Digital. Get it now: http://bit.ly/FordVFer

Ken Miles (played by Christian Bale in the film) was the reason Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) found success on the track with his Shelby Cobras, and why Ford beat Ferrari with their GT40’s in the 1966 24 hours of Le Mans. From driving tanks on the beaches of Normandy, to running his own mechanic shop, Miles was known to do things his way. He built his own winning MG's and raced Porsche 550 Spyder's to podium after podium. His skills led him to becoming Carroll Shelby's Chief Test Driver and he was just getting started. So how did Miles go from being a high school drop out to almost being the first driver to ever win the Triple Crown? Join James as he gets you Up to Speed on Mr. Sidebite himself. This is everything you need to know on Ken Miles!

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