“Ken Miles: The Shelby American Years”

by Paul Gohde

In the publicity driven world of the Indy 500 and NASCAR, the name Ken Miles may not have rung a loud bell for some race fans, but in the 1960’s, at endurance races like the Daytona 24 and the Le Mans twice-around-the-clock, Miles’ name and results were magic. Time after time he and his fellow Shelby Ford endurance teammates owned the podium steps as a variety of drivers from various racing disciplines combined to take Carroll Shelby’s Ford’s Cobras, Mustangs and especially the Ford GTs, to dominant victories.

Shelby American team photographer/writer Dave Friedman takes the reader of “Ken Miles: The Shelby American Years”, into the pits and race circuits, team meetings and private moments, recording with words and a volume of photos how Miles’ role as Competition Manager and lead driver/test driver pushed the team to endurance racing dominance world-wide.

Shelby had hired Miles before the 1963 season to organize and create more professionalism within a team that had the cars but somehow couldn’t race and win with the other big-name organizations.

In Friedman’s all-encompassing review, he tells of Miles’ immediate impact on the team, racing to the 1964 USRRC championship by winning 8 of 10 races and securing that season’s Manufacturers’ Championship along the way.

Ford transferred its nascent GT-40 program from their Advance Vehicles department to Shelby’s guidance in December of 1964, but after an unsuccessful first season on the endurance circuit, the team clicked and captured the 1966 Le Mans crown jewel.

It’s here however that Friedman combines his story-telling images with a revealing word description of how Miles and co-driver Lloyd Ruby were robbed of that win by Ford team politics; a win that in later years was proven to have been rightly captured by Miles’ team.

Sadly, Miles never had another chance to try again at Le Mans as he died in a horrible crash while testing Ford’s J-Car at Riverside Raceway on August 14th, just two months after being robbed of his much-deserved Le Mans victory.

Author Friedman does an excellent job of taking the endurance racing fan into the heart of the sport; especially through his 357 photos. But the 240-page horizontal format volume also shines while taking the casual sports car follower deeper into the sometimes hard-edged, often cruel world of the sport.

“Ken Miles: The Shelby American Years” would make an excellent Christmas present that will keep the reader occupied for many hours of leafing through the pages and digesting the photos.

To order: contact Car Tech at or call 1-800-551-4754. Also available through Amazon.




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