Based on true story of competition between Ford, Ferrari

After a long association with crime pics, Michael Mann is switching gears to step behind the wheel of another type of action vehicle.

Mann is nearing a deal with 20th Century Fox to direct “Go Like Hell,” the true story of the furious competition between Ford and Ferrari in 1966, when an American car won Le Mans race for the first time.

Based on the tome by A.J. Baime, script was penned by Jason Keller. Alex Young and Lucas Foster will produce through Foster’s Warp Film shingle.

Story follows Henry Ford II, young automotive wiz Lee Iacocca and racing maven Carroll Shelby as the future gearhead giants set about reinventing the Ford Motor Co. by entering the high-stakes world of European car racing. In a handful of years, they developed the Ford GT40, one of the most celebrated cars in automotive history, that became the first American car to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans (and went on to win four years running).

Fox has been looking at Brad Pitt as a prospect for a lead role, and the actor is said to have expressed interest, but no casting decisions have yet been made.

Mann is known for such crime-action pics as “Heat,” “Collateral” and “Public Enemies,” so this latest project could be considered outside the box, though Mann’s resume does include a stint directing “Lucky Star,” a faux film trailer for Mercedes-Benz in the U.K. that starred Benicio Del Toro, in 2007.

Besides “Go Like Hell,” Mann is also lining up several other directing projects, including “Waiting for Robert Capa” and “Big Tuna,” as well as exec producing and directing the pilot for the HBO horse-racing series “Luck.” It’s uncertain which film project would be his next.

Mann is repped by CAA. Keller is repped by Management 360.

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