Go Like Hell: Ford, Ferrari, and Their Battle for Speed and Glory at Le Mans

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By the early 1960s, the Ford Motor Company, built to bring automobile transportation to the masses, was falling behind. Young Henry Ford II, who had taken the reins of his grandfather’s company with little business experience to speak of, knew he had to do something to shake things up. Baby boomers were taking to the road in droves, looking for speed not safety, style not comfort. Meanwhile, Enzo Ferrari, whose cars epitomized style, lorded it over the European racing scene. He crafted beautiful sports cars, ...

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Go Like Hell: Ford, Ferrari, and Their Battle for Speed and Glory at Le Mans

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Overview

By the early 1960s, the Ford Motor Company, built to bring automobile transportation to the masses, was falling behind. Young Henry Ford II, who had taken the reins of his grandfather’s company with little business experience to speak of, knew he had to do something to shake things up. Baby boomers were taking to the road in droves, looking for speed not safety, style not comfort. Meanwhile, Enzo Ferrari, whose cars epitomized style, lorded it over the European racing scene. He crafted beautiful sports cars, "science fiction on wheels," but was also called "the Assassin" because so many drivers perished while racing them.

Go Like Hell tells the remarkable story of how Henry Ford II, with the help of a young visionary named Lee Iacocca and a former racing champion turned engineer, Carroll Shelby, concocted a scheme to reinvent the Ford company. They would enter the high-stakes world of European car racing, where an adventurous few threw safety and sanity to the wind. They would design, build, and race a car that could beat Ferrari at his own game at the most prestigious and brutal race in the world, something no American car had ever done.

Go Like Hell transports readers to a risk-filled, glorious time in this brilliant portrait of a rivalry between two industrialists, the cars they built, and the "pilots" who would drive them to victory, or doom.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"All I can say is: Wow! Go Like Hell drops you right smack in the middle an intense and ferocious battle between Ford and Ferrari in the 1960s. Baime's exceptional voice puts the reader into minds of the drivers, designers, and executives who formed the Golden Age of racing; his fantastic descriptions allow the reader to feel the pounding of the cylinders. If you like cars—nay, if you have ever seen a car—you must read this book!"
Garth Stein, New York Times bestselling author of The Art of Racing in the Rain
 

"Light up a Lucky Strike. Pour yourself a good stiff drink. Go Like Hell is a wonder, chock-a-block with great heroes and villains, a pedal-to-the metal account of greed and gumption, a chronicle of obsession and vain glory. Don't worry about that seat belt. Just go for the ride." 
  —Leigh Montville, author of The Big Bam, Ted Williams and At the Altar of Speed

"Go Like Hell is an epic. Ambitions, lives, fortunes, friendships, and a place in history—all are on the line here.  A.J. Baime marvelously reveals the people behind the machines."
Neal Bascomb,  author of The Perfect Mile and Hunting Eichmann
 

"Mix sport, death and big business, the biggest.  Throw in vivid portraits of  Enzo Ferrari and Henry Ford II,  and the drivers, men obsessed with speed and fast cars while trying not to get killed. Go Like Hell is a very hard book to put down. Sharp and suspenseful from beginning to end."
Robert Daley, author of The Cruel Sport and Year of the Dragon
 

"Baime’s skillful reporting and introspective writing style make for an insightful portrait of two automobile legends, as well as an exciting account of a bygone era in racing and in American culture."
Publishers Weekly

"Turbo-charged look at the heated race-car rivalry between Ferrari and Ford... Baime’s rich descriptions of the card lift them to near-human proportions. The ultimate speed-read." 
Kirkus Reviews

"A remarkably intimate look into the famous 1960s Ford-versus-Ferrari battles at Le Mans."
Automobile

"Like the cars it describes, Go Like Hell is a streamlined marvel built for speed, fueled by testosterone and likely to elicit happy grins from anyone who has ever heard music in the squeal of a tire or the roar of an engine . . . [Baime] hits the gas, pops the clutch and takes readers on a red-blooded ride to glory that will have them smiling all the way to the checkered flag."  —Dallas Morning News

"A pleasure to read . . . chronicles a time when an unfettered Detroit, led by 'car guys,' could achieve great things."—Wall Street Journal

"Henry Ford II’s monumental effort to topple Enzo Ferrari from the summit of sports-car racing at Le Mans is vibrantly told in this fast-paced account of the clash between the two fearsome, hyper-competitive automotive titans." – Bloomberg

"Insightful, well written accounts of the events and people involved along with inspired detail regarding the vehicles makes for a page turner. This is an ideal book for gear-heads, automotive enthusiasts, historians and people who might find amazing symmetry in what happened over 40 years ago verses what is happening today." —Denver Examiner
 
"Engaging... Grips you from the early pages to the conclusion."—Autoweek

Publishers Weekly

In the 1950s and '60s, the 24 hours of Le Mans in France were not just a race but, according to Playboy editor Baime, "the most magnificent marketing tool the sports car industry had ever known." It was also incredibly dangerous, the site of the biggest tragedy in racing history-Pierre Levegh's Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR slamming into an embankment and leaving at least 75 dead in 1955. Baime's narrative culminates in the 1966 Le Mans race-where Ford cars placed first, second and third-and the fierce competition between Ford and Ferrari. Ford head Henry Ford II realized that in order to compete in the world market, his cars had to win races-and he could accomplish both by winning at Le Mans. Blocking him was the "agitator of men," Enzo Ferrari, who devoted his life to building the perfect champion automobile and who prevented Ford from buying Ferrari in 1963. Both men's quest for victory trickles down to their workers. Henry II spent millions on technology and manpower to build the perfect car, the GT40, while displaying limited patience after years of failure. Meanwhile in Italy, Ferrari's world-class drivers faced their own difficulties pleasing their calculating, results-driven boss. Baime's skillful reporting and introspective writing style make for an insightful portrait of two automobile legends, as well as an exciting account of a bygone era in racing and in American culture. 8-page color insert. (June)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Enzo Ferrari and his sports cars dominated racing beginning in 1952; the 1960s brought high speeds and concerns about safety, as drivers and fans were killed in spectacular crashes. Henry Ford II became determined to unseat Ferrari from his position as the premier sports car manufacturer. Baime (Big Shots: The Men Behind the Booze) combines the saga of the heroic drivers with personal stories of the ruthless and canny businessmen who financed the sport. He focuses on the Grand Prix races at Le Mans and includes all the big names: Carroll Shelby, Lee Iacocca, Phil Hill, Mario Andretti, and John Surtees. The author's profiles are not always flattering, but tantalizing insider stories make the legends of the sport sympathetic, e.g., Hill, born into a well-to-do California family, rebuilt his first car at the age of 12, with help from his aunt's butler. VERDICT Baime tells an exciting story at a pace that manages to keep up with the drivers. Racing and automotive enthusiasts will get caught up in the drama of the sport and its colorful personalities.—Susan Belsky, Oshkosh P.L., WI


—Susan Belsky
Kirkus Reviews
Turbo-charged look at the heated race-car rivalry between Ferrari and Ford. In this cultural history, character study and page-turning action-adventure story, Playboy executive editor Baime (Big Shots: The Men Behind the Booze, 2003) focuses on France's 24-hour Le Mans race in the mid-1960s-which doubled as an advertising showcase for Ford and Ferrari to sell cars. This was the international playground where self-promotional genius Enzo Ferrari and the impossibly wealthy, ambitious Henry Ford II could most visibly conduct their battle for supremacy. The two biggest automotive chess masters of the day squared off in something akin to a 20th-century version of The Knight's Tale, where race-car drivers were little more than expendable pawns in their quest for wealth and global domination. Baime covers the golden-era years from 1964 to 1966, when a culture of youth and speed ruled and car racing was still considered a gentleman's sport. In the author's capable hands, the controversial 1966 Le Mans race makes for the ideal climactic centerpiece. The furious narrative pace never lets up, with facile but effective tension-building transitions between each chapter. Baime also provides ample historical and biographical context for nearly everyone involved-not just the big shots Ford and Ferrari, but also the steel-nerved drivers and invaluable pit crews. These included Ferrari's seemingly indestructible champion John Surtees, the perennial underdog driver Phil Hill and Ford's mechanical mastermind Carroll Shelby. Baime's rich descriptions of the cars-including the muscular Shelby Cobra and the curvy, sexy Ferrari-lift them to near-human proportions. The ultimate speed-readAuthor tour to NewYork, Detroit, Los Angeles
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618822195
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 6/9/2009
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

A. J. BAIME is the author of Go Like Hell: Ford, Ferrari, and their Battle for Speed and Glory at Le Mans (currently in development for a major motion picture by 20th Century Fox). He is a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal and an editor-at-large at Playboy.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 34 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(28)

4 Star

(4)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 34 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2011

    Great book for anyone interested in auto racing.

    Tough to put down since I'm a car guy at heart. The dangers of racing at LeMans in the 50's & 60's, the efforts to dethrone the dominant Enzo Ferrari by Henry Ford II utilizing the gifted talents of Carol Shelby & others along with massive amounts of money, and how racing impacted car sales in the 1960's are all included in this easy to read book. Informative & enjoyable reading for anyone interested in LeMan's racing or Carol Shelby & his Cobra racing legends.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 29, 2009

    A great read!

    I was in high school when these races took place, and I was completely enthralled and excited by it. The speed, the cars, the exotic locales, the drivers and their personalities, and their courage in the face of such danger. A. J. Baime brings it all alive in this great book. I have read a lot of books about this era of racing, and this is by far the best. If you were there and you want to remember, or if you weren't there and wonder what it was like, this book will bring it to you. You will also learn a lot about Henry Ford II and Enzo Ferrari. Enjoy, you won't be able to put it down.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2009

    A speed read right to the checkered flag!

    Kudos to A.J. Baime on a white knuckle ride that pays proper respect to the men and women whose sweat and sacrifice made the Ford vs. Ferrari rivalry one of the most important and compelling in automotive history. His book is a time capsule to be treasured; as the events of that era will,likely,not be duplicated again.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2009

    The True Story of a Remarkable Racing Rivalry

    As a teenager during the 1960's, I remember watching the Ford GT cars at LeMans. I remember the sight of the three Fords, in V formation crossing the finish together. "Go Like Hell" is the story of the rivalry between Ferrari and Ford for LeMans. Over the years, I have pieced together the story of the remarkable Ford GTs and the fight with Ferrari and find Mr. Baime's book to be the one place where most of the story comes together.

    Racing in general, and prototype endurance racing in particular, were quite different 40 years ago. Back then, it was as much and perhaps more a matter of the individual personalities of the people involved than even the technology. Blaime understands this and wisely focused on the characters involved, using htem totell the story. Throughout his book, Mr. Baime does a good job of introducing us to those extraordinary individuals: Enzo Ferrari and Henry Ford II who set their respective companies to the task of winning; Carroll Shelby and the "Gang from Terlingua" who turned the Ford GT into a winner; John Surtees and Phil Hill both quiet men of great courage and skill driving on opposite sides; a young rookie named Mario Andretti; a Ford executive named Lee Iaccoca who saw racing as a way to sell cars; and many others. Anyone who is familiar with racing in the 1960's will recognize these names and perhaps be surprised by what you learn about them.

    Baime tells not just the story of the competition but gives us keen insights into the background story surrounding the rivalry: What Henry Ford did to save his grandfather's company and how racing became a part of that; how Enzo Ferrari rebuilt from the chaos of World War II's aftermath to emerge as a builder of his own right. Baime skillfully weaves these parts together, giving you a sense of the time and occurances that motivated these characters..

    While non-racing fans may find this tedious, anyone interested in automobile racing should find this book a window into a our sport's past and a valuable addition ot your library.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 25, 2009

    From Mick

    I can't believe how many characters die in this book. It's amazing by today's standards that a sport could claim so many lives and that people would be sitting there just watching and TV cameras would be rolling. This book is really suspenseful partly because you want to find out who wins in the end but also you hope that characters that you like don't end up getting killed. It's a fascinating business story too, which I didn't expect. I bought my father a copy as soon as I'd read mine.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    So much more to this story

    This might be a good first effort, and the extensive bibliography at the end of the book indicates a fair amount of research. The author does offer some unique insights but a lot here can be found in other books.

    There are two glaring errors: Marco Andretti is listed as Mario's son, not grandson, and Aldo Andretti's career is described as being over in 1959 when a crash put him into a coma. Aldo's career lasted into the 60's, ended by a sprint car crash. Given the magnitude of these errors, you have to wonder about the other research in the book.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2014

    Ferari

    Ferari enzo and gt40 for good

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2013

    GT40

    A great story of the GT40 and how and why it came to be. A nice insight to the racing world and how things get done and who really does it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2013

    The best Carroll Shelby verses Enzo Ferrari book that I have ever found.

    The best Carroll Shelby verses Enzo Ferrari book that I have ever found. “Go Like Hell” covers the racing and the people evolved that led up to Carroll Shelby’s big win over Enzo Ferrari at Le Mans. It covers the years leading up to the Shelby prepared Ford GT40’s defeating all of the Ferraris and making Henry Ford II the most recognized racing manufacturer in the world during the 60’s. When you start reading you just can’t put it down. gamafay

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2013

    History or legacy

    Lamborghini s can be history which they r but they have been around for years. so also lamborghini s may have lega y cause they r famous

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2013

    great read

    This book is a very good read. I did not know anything about Le Mans and endurance racing until after reading this. The for gt40 is now one of my favorite cars because of rhis book. This book show what racing used to be an the danger and thrill that was involved in it. Again a great book that I will most definately read again.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2012

    Highly recommended - Auto racing history.

    Very easy and enjoyable read for an interesting time in auto racing history. This is the story about Ford vs. Ferrari. For me it brought back memories of the 1960's and great names in auto racing. Lots of fun!

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  • Posted September 22, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Go Like Hell

    This book is wonderfull. It reads just like a novel. The insight into cars is really cool. Also, its unique. There aren't a lot of books about this subject out there. A great read

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  • Posted September 7, 2009

    Go like Hell..an incredible read

    A.J. Baime's account of the days of racing at Le Mans between two of the biggest automotive industrialist, Ford and Ferrari is spot on. Not only does it recount the racing in glorious detail it takes the reader inside the lives of these two giants. The reader is transformed back to the 60's and feels as if one is an eye witness to the events recounted. I recommend this book to historians, race fans and anyone who enjoys a great antagonistic interplay. A.J. Baime's writing style builds the story in a way that the reader can't put the book down...an incredible read

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  • Posted May 25, 2009

    As a woman I didn't think I would like this book, but my goodness, what a story. Amazing characters except they are real people !

    Get all of the rush of racing with out risking life and limb. I thought it fascinating as a lesson on how to market a brand with brilliance and frankly, balls.

    I think this book should be in the business section as well. Maybe Detroit could learn a thing or two.

    Overall an intelligent exciting entertainment!

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  • Posted May 24, 2009

    Detroit Fan

    Anybody who's following the news in Detroit knows how depressing it is. I liked this book because it's like a flag waiver. In the 1960s everybody bought American cars, even in Europe because Detroit companies kicked everyone's butt on the track, and American racing drivers were some of the most famous guys walking. This book captures all of it while reading like a novel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2009

    So fascinating from start to finish

    I bought this book for my dad because he's such a race car fanatic. I was on a plane and decided to read a couple of chapters.. I couldn't put it down the whole 5 hour trip! I'm a woman and have never seen a car race and found this to be so well written. The characters were all so interesting and the story was unbelievable. And reading about how Ford managed to put it's company back on the map after creating a machine that beat the most famous race cars in the world is so inspiring for what American car companies face today and the times we are living in.
    This writer lays the story out in such a way you feel like you're watching a film, a blockbuster film at that! I look forward to his next one. So cool, I think my dad will love this.

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  • Posted May 23, 2009

    Speed Read

    This book blew me away. The story is about a rivalry between two men who were so into their companies, so into the cars that were branded with their names, they'd do anything to be the best in the world. And they ended up in a rivalry to beat each other at the coolest and most dangerous race in the world. The book has all the 1960s coolness and the characters are all super-icons: Iacocca, Andretti, etc. There's so much death in here, I can't believe these drivers had the nerve to get in the cars in the first place. Madness.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 34 Customer Reviews

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