"Motor Racing - The Grand Prix Greats"

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Edited by Barrie Gill. 166 pp. 8 3/4 in. x 5 1/2 in. (Pelham Books Ltd., 52, Bedford Square, London, WC1B 3EF, £2.20)

There are various ways of writing a book. You can write it yourself. either from adequate knowledge and/or enthusiasm or painstaking research, the best books probably being a combination of all these factors. You can do a scissors-and-paste task, like the second book reviewed in this column this month. Or you can just edit a book, asking others to compile the bulk of it, which is the method employed by Gill with his greats—the eleventh in this series on sporting “greats”.

This one, a sequel as it were to Gill’s former book “The Men”, thus has chapters on Hill by Gill, Moss by Charles, Rinds by Prüller, Fangio by Dymock, Hulme by Hayward, Hawthorn by Turner, Brabham by Brinton and McLaren by Young, as well as those on Clark and Stewart by Barrie Gill of the Dolly Mail, ex the Bury Times, Manchester Daily Herald, and the Sun. So this is a collection of brief biographies of recent racing drivers. It is interesting that the editor asked six newspaper correspondents, Philip Turner of Motor and Michael Tee of Motoring News to list the ten racing drivers in their personally-assessed order of merit. Interesting, because of these eight experts, five include pre-war drivers (Nuvolari and Caracciola), whom the other three ignore. It is important, when attempting the almost impossible, some would say futile, task of comparing drivers of different eras and putting them in order of merit, to explain whether the older ones are being assessed on the achievements of their times or by what the judge considers they would have made of modern GP racing had they been born sufficiently late to participate in it. Applying World Championship markings to the six leading drivers in these lists, the ultimate order in what is largely a Fleet Street placing, works out as: Clark, 64 pts; Fangio, 45; Moss, 28; Nuvolari, 20; Stewart, 16 and Caracciola 9 points. I note that Motoring News goes for Clark, Moss, Fangio, Hawthorn, Ascari, Stewart, Andretti, Hill, Brabham and Farina, in that order. The remainder of the book is readable, without being notable. Rindt is credited with saying he discovered racing to be boring and didn’t want to go on with it . . powerful journalistic stuff! Five of the photographs are of horrific accidents. —W. B.