“Drivers in Action,” by Louis Klemantaski and Michael Frostick. 64 pages, 7 ½ in. by 10 in. (The Bodley Head, 28, Little Russell Street, London, W.C.1. 12s. 6d.)
There is nothing over-elaborate, yet certainly nothing amateurish about this portfolio of action pictures of thirteen great racing drivers — the “baker’s dozen” consists of Ascari, Fangio, Farina, Gonzales, Hawthorn, Moss, Bira, Chiron, Trintignant, Parnell, Villoresi, Rolt and Hamilton.
Klemantaski — he of the black beard, immaculate dress and precise speech — provides the action photographs, mostly of these famous drivers in post-war years, while Frostick contributes an introduction and a brief outline of the history of each “subject.” Although it is impossible for him to tell us much that isn’t known already, for to do so would call for an intimate acquaintance with each driver, the author writes exceedingly well and introduces the driver’s characteristics and styles in an interesting and certainly knowledgeable manner. In the book’s Introduction the authors explain jointly why they have chosen the drivers they have and I particularly like the frank approach, “No explanation nor excuse is offered for the opinions in the text. The facts are correct as far as we can ascertain them and opinions are opinions.”
Klemantaski’s Leica-craft is too well known to require praise but this must be lavished on his choice of pictures and the skill with which these are captioned, wherein lies much of the pleasure of this fine book. Expensive it may be, at 12s. 6d., but the production, on glossy paper with the larger pictures measuring 7 ¼ in. by 9 ¾ in., is first-class and a final touch of genius is the inclusion of small “inserts,” such as “Nino” Farina in duffle-coat and trilby hat, Ascari and Villoresi packed up and walking off after their Maseratis had “blown up” at Silverstone last year, a side-face “shot” of Farina which empha ises his fine Roman features, Bira unveiling the Fairfield Memorial at Donington before the war, and so on.
Naturally, as the book’s title is “Drivers in Action,” almost all the main pictures are of cars in (fast) motion but an exception is a full-page head and shoulders study of Fangio, which will appeal so much to the Argentinian’s supporters that Klemantaski might well consider a subsidiary book of “still-life” portraits of great drivers.
“Drivers in Action” is no new idea, for George Monkhouse, the great Kodak motor-racing photographer, had the same notion prior to the war, with “Motoraces” and followed it up in his classics “Motor Racing with Mercedes-Benz” and “Grand Prix Facts and Figures,” but of recently-published motoring books this is one of the genuine ones and I like it very much. — W.B.