My Car Quest

January 25, 2020

The Indispensable Phil Remington

by Mike Gulett –

I finally saw the movie, Ford v Ferrari and I enjoyed it very much. I believe it is not necessary to be a car race fan or even a car fan to like this movie. It helps that it is based on real events, even though there are discrepancies between the movie and some of the real events, it is still a good movie.

Phil Remington

Phil Remington – photo by Road & Track

The success of the Ford GT40 at Le Mans was a team effort as shown in the movie. While Phil Remington was portrayed in the movie by Ray McKinnon, I do not think he received the credit he deserved as an indispensable member of that team. It is possible that the Ford GT40 would not have won Le Mans without Remington’s efforts. In the movie he got credit for a quick change mechanism for the brakes, that turned out to be important. His other contributions to the success of the GT40 were overlooked in the movie. I know that a movie cannot go into all of the historic details due to time limitations and the attention span of the audience.

Even Lance Reventlow made the movie (there is a brief cameo by Giles Matthey playing Reventlow).

Remington’s finger prints are literally all over the following race cars: the Lance Reventlow Scarabs, Shelby Cobra Roadster, Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe, Ford GT40 and Gurney’s All American Racing cars (where he spent more than 40 years).

He designed the Gurney hump which allowed 6ft 4in Dan Gurney to fit in the Ford GT40.

In the book Cobra: The First 40 Years, the author Trevor Legate wrote,

It was a remarkable stroke of good fortune that Phil Remington was building Scarabs at the Reventlow workshops in Venice when Shelby moved in. With nowhere else to go, Remington stayed, becoming Shelby’s chief engineer and his knowledge gained from the California hot-rod scene proved indispensable. He was a person who could build any part required for a car from whatever materials were at hand and have it ready before most other ‘engineers’ had found their toolbox.

This past August in Carmel during Monterey Car Week I was speaking to Peter Brock and I mentioned how fortunate Carroll Shelby was to have been able to take over the facilities, equipment and people from the Lance Reventlow Scarab race team. He immediately said “the key was Phil Remington”.

Even Carroll Shelby agrees that Remington was indispensable, Shelby wrote in The Cobra Story in 1965,

Phil Remington is…probably one of the most indispensable people in the company. He not only has a unique basic understanding of automobile engineering, but he’s also one of the finest craftsmen in the world.

If you have not yet seen this movie I think you will like it, just do not pay attention to all of the historic details. This movie will introduce many people to the thrill and challenge of racing – and to some of the great heros of car racing.

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

 

 

Ken Miles and Phil Remington

Ken Miles and Phil Remington – Road & Track Archives

Summary
The Indispensable Phil Remington
Article Name
The Indispensable Phil Remington
Description
In the movie Ford v Ferrari I do not think that Phil Remington received the credit he deserved as a member of the GT40 team. It is possible that the Ford GT40 would not have won Le Mans without Remington.
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Comments

  1. Michael Hipperson says

    You get a full appreciation of Phil in the Netflix
    ‘ Shelby American’ film
    Chap was awesome !

  2. wallace wyss says

    “Rem” was part of two other American sports car ventures first, one the Edwatds, and then Reventlow. So by the time he met Shelby, he knew the drill. Also in WWII he was stationed in England at an air base, fixing bombers that got shot up. I imagine his skills as a pre war hot rodder came in handy, and I bet he contributed ideas for making the planes easier to work on. It was great of Dan Gurney to employ him right to the end, because Phil was only happy if he was working.

  3. Michael Hipperson says

    Do you the name of the Airbase in the UK?
    I live in East Anglia which was a main area for
    airfields

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