Reviews, April 2005

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The Grand Prix Collection
DVD/VHS.10 x 52mins www.dukevideo.com £149.99 (DVD)/£129.99 (VHS) with free copy of Formula One 1980: or individually £16.99 (DVD)/ £14.99 (VHS)

It wasn’t until James Hunt ignited the tabloids’ interest—through his on and off-track exploits — that Formula One became subjected to the media blitz in which it exists today. Because of that, this trawl through the 1970s (one film for each year from ’70 to ’79) provides some great insight into an era when TV coverage was sketchy at best, and often non-existent.

The material Duke is working with is haphazard, so it’s a question of making the best of what exists. It’s a touch frustrating watching the 1970 version — with a tour of classic circuits including Kyalami, the old Spa, Clermont-Ferrand, the then brand-new Osterreichring, Mont Tremblant and Watkins Glen (wow, wow, wow, wow, wow and wow) — and finding such a limited variety of camera angles. Spa is the most disappointing, focusing virtually entirely on La Source and Eau Rouge.

But it makes up for this with some wonderful atmosphere stuff from the quaintly rustic pits and paddock areas. The cameras get right in there and you really feel you’re gaining some familiarity with the personalities. James Hunt in the 1976 film is always amusing and ready with a quip, although in the same year the superficial interview technique of Stirling Moss proves that it takes more than an amazing talent behind the wheel to make it as a media man! Oh yeah, and Jody Scheckter’s accent was much more English in those days.

The narration is dry and sometimes wry, but there are mistakes and, occasionally, the odd misleading bit: it’s simply not correct to suggest that Hector Rebaque lined up alongside Mario Andretti and Ronnie Peterson at Lotus in 1978; he drove an old car as a privateer.

Even so, there is plenty to enjoy here, whether this is an era you are familiar with and want a dose of nostalgia, or if you’re a more recent convert to the sport and wish to gain a working knowledge of possibly the most wide-open decade of F1. And, when you watch Carlos Reutemann drifting the Brabham-Alfa BT45 at Interlagos in ’76 and the sensational Watson/Peterson/Scheckter Austrian GP battle later the same year, it reminds you just why you fell in love with this sport in the first place. — MS

***

For The Love Of It — John Love and an Era of Southern African Motorsport by Greg Mills ISBN 1 919969 18 7. Ecurie Zoo.15 Rand

Published to coincide with the Rhodesian’s’ 80th birthday, this is a welcome addition to the ranks of driver bios. Mills is a fan first, journo second, but this isn’t a mere hagiography. The length and breadth of Love’s career is covered in some depth in just 120 pages, and Mills doesn’t gloss over the bad bits, including the accident at Albi in 1962 that cost Love his chance of a works Cooper F1 test. There’s also a wealth of gen on the local F1 and sportscar scene. Well worth a punt. E-mail [email protected] — RH

***

ASA L’ epopea della ‘Ferrarina’ by Franco Varisco, ISBN 88 7911 334 8, Giorgio Nada Editore. €39.80

This is a fabulous book tackling a reasonably well known but rarely documented Italian marque. The depth of research here is commendable, with plenty of background on how the Enzo Ferrari-conceived ‘Ferrarina 854’ morphed into a separate manufacturer in its own right and the politics surrounding it.

Beautifully presented with a wealth of rarely seen photographs, ASA’s largely success-free competition history is recounted, with first-hand accounts from Raffaele Pinto, Giorgio Pianta and Gianpiero Moretti, while the use of ephemera ranging from homologation papers to cartoons is a nice touch.

Text is in Italian but, knowing Giorgio Nada, an English translation could happen if there’s enough demand. If ‘etceterinis’ are your thing, this is a must-have. — RH

***

Les Automobiles Hommell by Jean-Luc Fournier, Association Les Bielles Doo-Wap, €40

Cars don’t get much more esoteric than publishing magnate Michel Hommell’s creations. What started out as a competition in Echappement magazine to create the perfect enthusiast’s sportscar became a marque in its own right due to public demand.

This hardback tells the full story from 1994 to last year, with background information on Hommell’s many co-conspirators — including designers and stylists moonlighting from Citroën and Peugeot— and the tiny constructor’s subsequent rise to prominence, if only in France, as the second coming of the Alpine A110. The Berlinetta coupé’s competition and record-breaking pedigree is equally well researched, with testimony from the many drivers. French text only and minority interest admittedly, but these fabulous-handling machines deserve a larger retinue. — RH

***

Scottish Motor Racing and Drivers by Graham Gauld, ISBN 9549167, Havelock Publishing. £40

Even if the roster were only Clark and Stewart, Scotland’s racing input would be significant, but Gauld broadens his scope not only to talented drivers — and there are plenty— but to the whole picture back to our first racer, Andrew Fletcher in 1903.

The first half of this sizeable book is packed with facts about competition north of the border before a roll-call of Scots drivers, with some surprises, like Lord Selsdon and Glen Kidston. Gauld stretches things by including Richard Noble and Lord Hesketh, and the tenuous links continue in the Scottish makes section —Chevron and Hesketh! But despite its inelegant layout the book is a gallimaufrey of interesting stuff, especially the unbuilt circuits. I never knew that Rolls-Royce was nearly Rolls-Weir and I was delighted to learn about Ecurie Ossity, our rival to Ecurie Cod Fillet — GC

***

Louis Rosier Une Vie Extraordinaire by Pascal Legrand, ISBN 546767 18, Automobiles Historiques, £40

Despite a virtually solo victory at Le Mans and a grand prix win which arguably altered motor racing history, this tough privateer gets less than his due. To redress this, Legrand assembles a wealth of information on Rosier’s life, his garage business, his long-time Talbot links and his later years in Italian red. There’s personal detail aplenty — the tale of his war years as a member of the Resistance and his anguished search for his wife in a German concentration camp as the war ends is a moving one.

Among his racing it is his giant-killing acts which grip: first, beating the blown Ferraris at Spa in 1949 and making Enzo switch direction; and secondly that drive at La Sarthe. But as this handsome book makes clear these would not surprise any who knew this dogged racer, garagiste and constructor. Text in French. — GC

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