Who Won 24 Hours of Le Mans 1966: A Historic Victory

The 24 Hours of Le Mans is a legendary endurance race that has been held annually since its inception in 1923. Over the years, this iconic event has witnessed numerous fierce battles and remarkable victories. However, none compare to the historic and unforgettable race that took place in 1966.

Ford vs. Ferrari: The Ultimate Rivalry

In the mid-1960s, Ford Motor Company had set its sights on dominating international motorsport after a series of triumphs in America. Their main rival at the time was Italy’s revered sports car manufacturer, Ferrari.

Ferrari’s Dominance

Ferrari had established itself as an undefeated force at Le Mans, winning six consecutive races from 1960 to 1965. This dominance fueled their image as unbeatable and added to the allure surrounding their brand.

Ford’s Determination

Bent on breaking Ferrari’s stronghold over endurance racing, Ford poured substantial resources into designing an exceptional vehicle capable of dethroning the Italian giants.

The Battle Unfolds: The Race Begins

On June 18th, 1966, amidst great anticipation and excitement from spectators around the world, teams representing Ford and Ferrari gathered for a grueling twenty-four-hour battle on Circuit de la Sarthe in Le Mans, France.

The GT40 by Ford

Ford entered three variants of their groundbreaking GT40 model – cars specifically designed with one goal in mind – defeating Ferrari at Le Mans. These sleek machines boasted superior aerodynamics and raw power under their hoods thanks to powerful V8 engines.

Ferrari’s Response

Ferrari, unwilling to let their crown slip away easily, presented a formidable lineup of their renowned 330 P3 and 365 P2 models – both known for their exceptional speed and reliability.

A Dramatic Turn of Events: Ford’s Redemption

As the race unfolded, it became evident that the duel between Ford and Ferrari would be one for the history books. Throughout the twenty-four hours of intense racing, lead changes were frequent as each team pushed their limits.

The Shelby-American Inc. Team Takes Charge

Amongst all the teams representing Ford, it was Carroll Shelby’s American squad that emerged as frontrunners in this historic battle. Driven by British driver Ken Miles and New Zealand driver Denny Hulme, car number #2 surged ahead during dawn towards a remarkable victory.

An Unexpected Twist: Controversy Strikes

However, just moments before crossing the finish line on lap 359 (out of 360), an unprecedented controversy arose due to team orders from Ford executives. The decision was made to stage a dead heat finish with teammate Bruce McLaren driving car #1 alongside Ken Miles instead of honoring Miles’ rightful victory alone.

The Victory Acknowledged: A Historic Win for Ford

In spite of controversy surrounding its final moments, Ken Miles’ exceptional performance behind the wheel had not gone unnoticed. His extraordinary skill in driving over long stretches at incredible speeds solidified his status as one of Le Mans’ greatest drivers ever.

Victory Snatched Away but Legacy Cemented

Although denied an individual win due to corporate decisions beyond his control, Ken Miles played an integral role in securing a historic triumph for Ford over Ferrari. This victory marked the start of a new era in endurance racing, breaking Ferrari’s stranglehold on Le Mans and reshaping the course of motorsport history.


The 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966 was not only a battle between two iconic automotive brands, but also a testament to the indomitable spirit and determination of those involved. The gripping race showcased the very essence of motorsport – adrenaline-fueled competition, innovation, controversy, and triumph. Ultimately, it is Ken Miles’ extraordinary performance that will forever be remembered as he played an instrumental role in Ford’s momentous victory over Ferrari.