In the 1960s Enzo Ferrari emerged as the dominant force in sports cars in the world, creating speed machines that were unbeatable on the race track and moved one writer to say they "felt dangerous just to sit in."
In America, the Ford Motor Company was quickly losing ground as the pre-eminent brand. Young Americans wanted speed over comfort, style over safety, and Ford was falling behind. Henry Ford II saw a solution. He decided to declare war on Ferrari, to build a faster car than anything Ferrari had brought to the track, and to beat him at the world's biggest race, Le Mans, something no American car had ever done. Ferrari was just as determined to see off this challenge from the across the Atlantic.
With practically no safety regulations in place in the European Grand Prix races, and public roads used as tracks, horrific accidents were routine, with a multitude of both drivers and spectators killed in many races. Ferrari drivers seemed the most likely to meet a tragic end, maybe because the cars were fastest, maybe because that was the price they were willing to pay, but Ferrari himself refused to attend their funerals. For the high death rate of his drivers and his callousness, he became known as "the Assassin". The stakes were incredibly high, money and men were thrown at the competition, neither Ford or Ferrari would accept anything but victory. The battle to become the fastest in the world truly became a race to the death.
- Publication Date:
- 01 / 08 / 2008