I first heard about this book on the Adam Carolla Carcast. I was a really big fan of the GT40 race car from playing Gran Turismo 3 on the Playstation due to the car's aggressive styling, impressive handling, and unique exhaust note (again...all from playing the game). I decided to pick up this book to get the backstory on the GT40 having no idea just how entwined this story was to all of auto racing.
The names of the real-life characters in this book resonate today even for people like me who aren't really even into racing: Enzo Ferrari and Henry Ford II play the antagonists, while the supporting cast of Lee Iacocca, Carroll Shelby, Bruce McLauren, Mario Andretti, and more show just how far reaching the events from the 60's affect today's brand recognition. Even Ralph Nader plays a role in steering the American automobile industry from a battle for top speed to an emphasis on safety. Meanwhile, the setting of the 1960's plays an important role in and of itself as baby boomers come into driving age, WWII pilots and engineers shift their focus to the cars, and the space race becomes more intense.
What I enjoyed the most about this book was theme of David vs. Goliath reflected in Ford II and Ferrari. However, depending on which chapter you were on, your perception of who was Goliath changed. On one hand, Ferrari was untouchable in auto racing, and Ford's upstart into European racing was attempting to dethrone the giant. On the other hand, Ford's near limitless financial resources could also be seen as the unstoppable Goliath while Ferrari constantly teetered on financial instability. Either way, both mens' passion and teams of amazing engineers fueled an epic battle.
The story also focuses much of its attention on the drivers themselves. In a time before safety regulations and unfettered desire to go faster, these men literally risked their lives every time they stepped into these powerful prototype cars. The are numerous recounts of fatal crashes that not only took the lives of the drivers, but spectators as well. The drivers were not paid very well, but they took on these risks for fame and national pride.
You don't need to be a racing fan to enjoy this book. Some of the events that took place were so fantastic that you wouldn't believe it if it weren't true. This is a story of highly motivated men who pushed themselves and others to accomplish the unimaginable.
Up front, I need to acknowledge that I have almost no interest in automobile racing competition. However, I did enjoy seeing the 1966 film starring James Garner, Grand Prix, and reading James MacGregor's book, Sunday Money: Speed! Lust! Madness! Death! A Hot Lap Around America with NASCAR (2005). That said, I now acknowledge that A. J. Baime's Go Like Hell is one of the most entertaining as well as one of the most informative books I have read in many years. Moreover, it is much less about automotive … more
I'm a technology early adopter. I thoroughly enjoy geeking out with the latest hardware, software and electronics. I probably have as much fun setting up, tweaking, and configuring systems as I do actually … more
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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, "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.