Ken Miles


Ken Miles

Ken Miles (born 1 November 1918 in Sutton Coldfield near Birmingham, England - died 17 August 1966 in Riverside, California, United States) was a sports car racing engineer and driver best known for his career in the USA and with American teams on the international scene.

Background

Miles raced motorcycles before he served as a tank sergeant in the British Army in World War II.

Career

After the war he raced Bugatti, Alfa Romeo and Alvis with the Vintage Sports Car Club. He then turned to a Ford V-8 Frazer-Nash.

Ken then moved from England to the Los Angeles, California area. In 1953 he won 14 straight victories in SCCA racing in an MG based special of his own design and construction.

For the 1955 season, he designed, constructed, and campaigned a second special based on MG components that was known as the "Flying Shingle". It was very successful in the SCCA F modified class on the west coast.

For the 1957 season (in cooperation with Otto Zipper), Ken engineered the installation of a Porsche 550S engine and transmission in a '56 Cooper chassis and body. (It was the second successful race car to be known on the West Coast as "the Pooper". The first "Pooper" was an early 50s Cooper chassis and body powered by a Porsche 356 power train that was built and campaigned by Pete Lovely of Tacoma, WA.) The resulting car dominated the FM odified class of SCCA on the west coast in the '57 and '58 seasons with Ken driving.

Because of his great skill/talent both as a driver and as a mechanic/engineer, Ken was a key member of the Shelby/Cobra race team in the early 60's.

In 1966 he won the 24 Hours of Daytona (pictured) with Lloyd Ruby, and the 12 Hours of Sebring in the Ford GT40. Miles was leading at the end of the '66 24 hours of Le Mans, when the Ford team, desiring a publicity photo of the three GT40s crossing the finish line together, ordered him to slow down until he was only leading the second place car, driven by Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon, by half a car length at the checkered flag. Unknown to Ford, however, the scoring system at Le Mans takes into account the differing distances covered by the cars due to differing positions on the starting grid, and so the McLaren-Amon car, having started further back, became the official winner. Miles was thus denied the unique achievement of winning Sebring, Daytona, and Le Mans in the same year.

Test driver/car developer

His early career got Carroll Shelby's attention, who hired Miles as a test driver in the early 1960s. Miles helped Shelby with developing the Shelby Cobra. He also is credited with helping Shelby develop the GT40 and the Mustang GT350.

Death

Miles was testing the Ford J-car on 17 August 1966 at Riverside International Raceway when the car suddenly looped, flipped and crashed. As a result, the aerodynamics of the J-car were heavily modified to correct lift generated at race speeds. The (significantly revised) car was renamed the GT-40 Mk IV, and was highly successful in the '67 season in Europe.

Award

*He was inducted in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2001. [http://www.mshf.com/index.htm?/hof/miles_ken.htm Biography] at the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America]

References


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