A SIGN OF THE (L.A.) TIMES: WHEN ‘FORD V FERRARI’ SPINS AWAY FROM HOLLYWOOD’S FAST-N-FURIOUS WAYS OF DEALING FACT VS. FICTION
By Tom Hoffarth
As the cover story for the March 25, 1957 edition of Sports Illustrated, Carroll Shelby is called “The Gentle Leadfoot,” and referred to as “America’s hottest driver” as he headed into a big race at Sebring.
“You know, when I’m driving a race car I feel like I don’t have a problem in the world,” Shelby says in the piece. “I haven’t even tried to analyze why I do it. I guess there is just something there — a certain challenge.”
All the while, he wore these bibbed, striped carpenters’ overalls he says he bought for $3 at J.C.Penney’s “when I was in the chicken business.”
The beauty of the story is writer Kenneth Rudeen allows Shelby to talk through most of it, in his voice. That’s part of the Shelby sales pitch charm, playing up his Texas-bred stereotypes that followed him to a car designer, salesman and legend.
(Just for some context in that 1957 SI issue, the magazine also has a piece about the new Major League Baseball rookies who were likely to do well in the upcoming season. That included Baltimore’s Brooks Robinson and Cleveland’s Roger Maris. In its preview of the NCAA basketball final four — Kansas, San Francisco, North Carolina and Michigan State — there’s a story about how Kansas sophomore Wilt Chamberlain has become a “magnetic obsession.”)
In an expansion of our piece in Monday’s Los Angeles Times about how the new box-office hit “Ford v Ferrari” has been viewed by those who like to separate fact from fiction — it is a “based on a true story” about how Shelby and driver Ken Miles battled with Ford executives trying to beat Ferrari at the coveted 24 Hours of Le Mans in the 1960s, finally coming through at the end of the decade with four straight wins — we had a conversation with Shelby’s 48-year-old grandson, Aaron, about this. Read more