A short film about the controversial finish of the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans has been announced as an official selection of the 2016 L.A. International Short Film Fest on Sept. 5.
“8 Meters” is a documentary about the Ford GT40 sweep of the 24-hour race, the first American car to thoroughly dominate the race, let alone win it. The cars originally came to Le Mans to beat the two factory Ferraris and a host of privateers backed by Maranello, only two of which ended up taking the checkers. The three American Ford teams were the #1 car of Brit Ken Miles (who had won at Daytona and Sebring and was vying for the Triple Crown of endurance racing) and New Zealander Denis Hulme, the #2 car of New Zealanders Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon, and the #5 car of Americans Ronnie Bucknum and Dick Hutcherson.
The name of the film is drawn from a legend that says the #2 car driven by McLaren was handed the victory because even though it crossed the line alongside the #1 car driven by Miles, it was ruled to have covered greater distance by the fact it had qualified fourth and therefore started the race two car widths (equivalent to 8 metres) behind the second-fastest qualifying #1 car.
However, film and photos of the finish show the #2 car finishing ever so slightly ahead of the #1 car, some saying that it was Miles himself who let McLaren nip him at the line because he was dissatisfied with the team orders to have him slow considerably in the dying hours of the race in order to set up a photo-op of the three cars finishing together (the #1 and #2 cars were on the same lap but the #5 car was 12 behind), something that is widely practiced today by endurance racing teams but was unheard of at the time.
The film delves into the lives of the four drivers on the race winning cars and offers rare behind-the-scenes footage of the men and other racing greats, such as Mario Andretti, Carroll Shelby, author Preston Lerner, and renowned Ford racing engineer Joe Macura, to name just a few.
The film runs just over 26 minutes and is produced by Kahn Media for California’s Petersen Automotive Museum and Superformance, the California continuation builder that still makes GT40s.
The L.A. Short Film Festival is one of largest and most prestigious short film festivals in the world, and is accredited by both the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and the British Academy of Film at Television Arts, running Sept. 1-8 at the downtown L.A. Live Stadium.
“I’m so proud and excited that ‘8 Meters’ was selected by such a well-respected and significant film festival,” said film writer and producer Dan Kahn. “This film started as a passion project because we were interested in what really happened on the finish line at Le Mans 50 years ago. As we learned more, uncovered historic footage and started to meet people who were there, the thing snowballed to the point where we knew we had to tell this story.”