Master Motorsports Photographer
Just occasionally, the packaging is peeled from a freshly delivered book and most of the office starts clamouring for a peep. This is one such.
A compilation of renowned photographer Louis Klementaski’s finest work, it stands out not so much for the curiosity value of seeing how the Chimay paddock looked in 1948, or live action from a 1938 Berkhamsted speed trial, but for the extraordinary crispness of his output at a time when photographic apparatus was still relatively primitive. There’s a fair splash of colour, too, which wasn’t particularly commonplace at motor sport events in the 1930s (or even, indeed, the early 1960s, when he began to wind down his racing activities).
The photographs transport us to many an angle that simply wouldn’t be available today, thanks to the interfering nature of twin menaces health and safety.
The support text is rich in fact, if a little pedestrian at times, but this isn’t a book you’d buy for its prose. It’s a wonderful tribute to Klementaski, who passed away in 2001, but beyond that it’s just plain wonderful. SA
Published by Motorbooks ISBN: 978-0-7603-4644-0, £60
The Evolution of
Rallying Vol 2
Directed by Helmut Deimel
Featuring diverse footage from Austrian rally videographer Helmut Deimel, the original Evolution of Rallying DVD was launched in 2001… shortly before serial success story Sébastien Loeb was fully formed.
Starting from the inauguration of a formal world championship in 1973, this brings the story up to date without discarding atmospheric footage of Alpine A110s and Ford Escorts being wrestled through dusty forests or across snow-dappled Alps. Although parts are thematically similar to the original, the 86-minute documentary is said to be all new rather than just a simple refresh.
Deimel’s passion for the task shines through: he knows where to stand – and when. Staccato action sequences are interspersed with many familiar faces and candid imagery of the kind that would nowadays be unthinkable (drivers smoking while sitting in their cars, for instance – a stark illustration of attitudinal shift).
The script is a little stilted in parts, and pronunciations aren’t always as accurate as they might be, but such irritations are minor and fleeting. SA
“He was polished, well mannered, sophisticated – always floating into a room with a smile,” writes Mario Andretti in his foreword. “Away from the track he didn’t talk much about racing, but he had a great mind and superior intellect. He was somewhat of a philosopher.”
In those few phrases, Mario sums up perfectly why his old Ferrari team-mate was unique in the world of motor racing.
This is strictly a biography of Jacky Ickx, who played no part in its production. Instead, it is a fitting tribute to a charismatic, complex – and oh-so-quick – all-round racing hero.
The copy, in German and English, diligently records the career, race by race and year by year. Snapshot memories from the likes of Jackies Oliver and Stewart, Brian Redman, Derek Bell and Jochen Mass add colour, but it is the stunning collection of photographs, mostly sourced from the impressive McKlein archive, that sets this book apart. With such a subject, in such cars, during such times, photographers couldn’t go far wrong. DS
Published by McKlein ISBN: 978-392745-874-1, €49.90
Top Fuel Dragster, Owners’ Workshop Manual
Drag Racing has always appealed to the kind of folk who thought circuit racing a bit ‘slow’. Formula 1 cars racing at speeds of 200mph suddenly seem quite tame when compared to Top Fuellers now pushing their way past 330mph at the end of their 1000ft runs.
If recent talk of 1000bhp F1 cars sounds impressive, how does 10,000bhp grab you?
In well-known Haynes manual style, the book explains in detail how all that power and massive speed is achieved by Top Fuel dragsters. Starting with a run-down of how the sport of drag racing actually works, it quickly moves to describing every part of these nitro-burning monsters.
Mixing in driver, crew chief and mechanic perspectives, this digs deep into how each has a big part to play. Like all motor sport, the driver gets the glory, but can achieve it only with a cast of like-minded enthusiasts.
Drag racing isn’t a rich sport, but can consume vast sums of money and parts – as this book illustrates in rich detail. How does burning 1.5 gallons of explosive nitromethane fuel per second sound? Get yourself this book and enter the crazy world of Top Fuel drag racing. It won’t fail to amaze you. DC
Published by Haynes ISBN: 978-0-85733-265-3, £21.99
Dreams Come True: My Story
Marc Márquez was still 21 when this book was written, and if you think that’s a tad early to be the subject of a biography, you’re not alone.
The young Spaniard’s career is obviously worthy of a book, but there isn’t enough material to justify one this big. At about half-distance, the text largely stops and it turns into an extended photo special.
It’s all entertaining stuff – even in still shots you can sense the movement and urgency in his riding style, and his rapid rise to the top of his sport is explored with a good eye for detail in the early pages. But for a book called My Story (which makes it look like an autobiography – it’s not) there’s precious little about Márquez’s pre-stardom life or personality. After all, that’s the reason the fans haven’t turned on him the way they have with other dominant sporting figures.
For Márquez fans it’ll make a nice memento of his two championships. But you might prefer to wait for the updated version after he wins a third… ACH
Published by Ebury ISBN: 978-0-0919-6039-1, £20
The BMW Touring Car Story
Directed by Tim and Nick Hahne
This documentary from Tim and Nick Hahne (as in Hubert and Armin) is many things. It’s a love letter to touring car racing’s greatest marque; it’s a celebration of that discipline, warts and all; it’s a work of art; and it’s one of the finest motor racing films I’ve seen.
In about two hours, the pair manage to cram in 50 years of BMW’s factory touring car history without missing very much. Even its GT programmes are in there, and it’s all tied in to whatever else the company was doing, whether road cars or Formula 1 with the Brabham team.
There are no real weak spots. The dozens of interviewees are engaging, articulate and funny, the on-track footage is exquisite – and occasionally candid, as with Marc Hessel’s 1987 DTM heartbreak – and the whole thing is shot with a flair normally reserved for feature films. And, even better, the vignettes that didn’t make it into the film are organised into shorts for the DVD.
If you’re not a touring car fan you might occasionally be disturbed by the brutality on display, but go in with an open mind and you might come away with a new understanding of the genre. ACH