The Oscar-nominated and BAFTA-winning Ford v Ferrari holds of the more bizarre side stories I’ve stumbled across this Oscar season. While doing some research on the film’s official backstory, I stumbled across this 2003 article from Car and Driver. In it, the author, Brock Yates, spins a story about “extensive research” pointing to an Elvis Presley-level myth — that Ken Miles, played by SAG nominee Christian Bale, didn’t actually die in the prototype car crash featured near the ned of the film.
Yup. According to Car and Driver in 2003, Fred Jones, a retired San Jose police officer, assembled a dossier of research claiming that Ken Miles may actually have survived the crash that reportedly killed him on August 17, 1966. Again, according to the article, he reportedly was found living in an abandoned school bus in the back woods of Wisconsin.
Now, the article — and Jones’s research — seems to debunk itself as you read through it. Pictures of this “Ken Miles” have a vague resemblance to the real man, although apparently the ear lobes don’t match. The Wisconsin “Ken Miles” also wore his watch on the wrong arm and lacked the tell-tale British accent.
Also in evidence? Carroll Shelby, played by Matt Damon in the film, refused to address Jones’s probing questions.
“Jones attempted to get some answers from the likes of Carroll Shelby, who, when asked about Miles at the Monterey Historics, reportedly dropped a plate of food in shock and refused to speak about the issue,” Yates wrote.
Shockingly enough (insert sarcasm emoji here), there’s not much additional information about the story outside of the Car and Driver piece. And that’s probably because the story doesn’t really hold water. For Ken Miles to have faked his death that day in August 1966, it would have required at least a dozen onlookers to agree to the cover up. Then, you would also have to assume that Ken would easily abandon his son, Peter, who is seen adoringly obsessed with Ken’s racing career in Ford v Ferrari. And oh by the way, Peter Miles also served as an advisor on Christian Bale’s towering performance.
Ultimately, it all amounts to nothing more than a truly suspect side note in history, a conspiracy theory buried in an unexpected locale. Strange, though, to be happening upon it doing research for a Oscar-contending film.
But that’s just Oscar season, isn’t it?