Go Like Hell
What do you do when you are faced with the task of cramming yourself into a plane for 12 hours? For myself, I realize that I will finally have some time to pick up a book and read for a good long while. So where do I turn for book recommendations? To our faithful Petrolicious readers, of course.
In a question on the site in the not too distant past, we asked, “What is your favorite automotive book?” A large majority of the answers revolved around the book Go Like Hell: Ford, Ferrari, and Their Battle for Speed and Glory at Le Mans by A.J. Baime. Since my plane-related trip would soon take me to the legendary motoring town of Modena, I decided it was my obligation to read what the fuss is all about.
I thought I knew everything that I needed to know about the classic Ferrari vs. Ford Le Mans battles. Ford, wanting to take on Ferrari, threw a ton a money at a bunch of engineers, and the GT40 was born and Ford conquered Le Mans. Simple, right? Well, I may have had the basic premise of the book correct, but I realized that I really knew nothing beyond that one line.
Baime, does an excellent job at portraying the history leading up to this point and shows us the completely different paths that it took both Ferrari and Ford to get there. We get a history of the famous racing drivers and their lives, the life of Enzo Ferrari and his relationship with his factory and racing, and the corporate battle waged inside Ford that made the GT40 see the light of day. Throw in a good measure of Iacocca, Shelby, and Surtees and you have a book that not only delivers a wealth of information but one that does it in a way that you can’t put the book down.
This book also dedicates a good amount of time to the toll that racing took on the drivers themselves, the politics, the danger, or the ultimate toll itself, death. Even with today’s safety measures, death still rears its ugly head at the famed Le Mans, and in the golden era of racing it was ever present. I can’t imagine hurtling down a straight at over 200 MPH or the immense amount of talent and control that was needed to keep the cars going around the track, lap after lap, for twenty-four hours. Baime does a great job of getting us into the mindset that it takes to race this type of event and helping his readers gain a deeper respect for those who accomplished some of the most amazing feats in racing.
I couldn’t put this book down and finished it on the plane ride to Italy just in time to gain a deeper appreciation of the towns, museums, and places I would visit in the famed “Motor Valley”. To the Petrolisti reading this, I have you to thank for that.