Book reviews, August 2004, August 2004
Ken Miles by Art Evans ISBN 0 9705073 3 Published by Photo Data Research, $49
It was clear to all who watched that Ken Miles could race. He was better still as a test driver. But it was also clear to all who met him that he was always honest, in a brutal sort of way.
Commendably, family friend Art Evans’ book doesn’t hide from that. There are contributions from those who met Ken, from when he started in hillclimbs in Britain through his early years of racing sports-cars in the USA in the mid-1950s, then his dominancy abroad a Porsche 550 and an AC Cobra, right up to his narrow defeat in the 1966 Le Mans 24 Hours when racing for Ford. Only a couple of months later he was killed when testing a Ford J-Car. Like the words, the photos cover a lot of ground, supported by a record of every race. BSJ
The Pits: The Real World of Formula One, by Beverley Turner ISBN 1 843572 374 Published by Atlantic Books, £14.99
You should never judge a book by its cover, and this is a case in point. Beverley Turner has ended her spell with ITV’s Formula One team and, presumably with no intention of treading the paddock again, has written this book to unveil the rampant egos, half-truths and sexism. None of this comes as a shock, now that it’s more of a business than a sport, but the sexism rattled Beverley. To be frank, it’s naïve of her to be shocked by it as she presumably got her job, covering the fluffy side of the circus, simply because she herself was a pretty face: and you can’t have it both ways.
Some of the backbiting does make for entertaining reading. But let’s face it, F1 is a horribly tough area of the sport peopled by some less-than-charming people, but no one ever said that it should be easy. BSJ
Formula One: Made in Britain by Clive Couldwell ISBN 1 85227 063 2 Published by Virgin Books, £9.99
Britain has long boasted of its predominance in motorsport, from Formula One to the grassroots. Indeed, with the McLaren, Williams, BAR, Renault, Jaguar and Jordan teams all based in England, it’s hard to refute.
This book is written by a journalist specialising in technology and, as might be expected, comes across as one written by an F1 outsider, albeit one who has done his research. He is clearly impressed by the innovation and application that is such a feature of the business as well as the sheer will to win that has helped British cars and teams reap so much success since the 1960s. However, where this book comes unstuck is in its lamentable use of photographs, showing not as much as one shot of any of the facilities that are its core subject, instead making do with some unimpressive shots of a handful of Britain’s drivers that add nothing to the story. To find out what this book promises, you’re better off to read Virgin Books’ updated The Piranha Club by F1 insider Tim Collings. BSJ
Boreham: The 40-Year Stroy of Ford’s Motorsport Dream Factory by Graham Robson ISBN 1 84425 103 9 Published by Haynes, £35
Ford need absolutely no introduction to motorsport fans for it’s been there and done it in seemingly every category, from Formula One to rallying to saloon cars to junior single-seaters.
It’s cars with a roof that are the focus of this book as it celebrates all of the competition machinery that has emanated in the past 40 years from Ford’s specialist motorsport centre at Boreham in Essex until it was shut at the end of 2003. Graham Robson is the ideal author for this book, as he has been along for the ride for all that time, practically part of the team since he first visited Boreham in ’65. The tales behind the people involved there and the rally cars with which the centre made its name are all brought to life by Robson, from Zephyr to Cortina to Escort and RS200, by way of GT70 and RS1700T.
There is some racing, too, but this is very much one for the rally fan. A book packed with both detail and anecdote, all of which is complimented by a superb range of photos. BSJ
Jim Clark and His Most Successful Lotus; by Eoin Young ISBN 1 84425 029 6 Published by Haynes, £19.99
Seven wins from 10 Grand Prix starts was Jim Clark’s tally when he dominated the 1963 Formula One season. What not a lot of people know is that the Scot did all this in one chassis: Lotus 25 R4.
Eoin Young chronicles R4’s creation, its triumphs in Clark’s hands and where it went next, charting its passage through the hands of Mike Spence, Peter Arundell and Gerhard Mitter for Team Lotus, and then when it was being run by Reg Parnell Racing between 1964 and 1967 for a host of drivers from Chris Amon to Chris Irwin, and finally its restoration.
As ever, Young has opened his treasure chest of anecdotes, adding colour to the characters, with the antics of team boss Colin Chapman and mechanic Dick Scammell of particular note. BSJ
Bizzarrini: The Genius Behind Ferrari’s success; by Phillippe Olczyk ISBN 9952 8002 0 7 Published by [email protected], £45
The tenet of this book is that Giotto Bizzarrini is a true genius who is misunderstood and certainly miscredited, particularly during his spell at Ferrari. Former racer Olczyk has decided to “put the record straight”.
Certainly, Giotto’s decision to quit Ferrari along with Carlo Chiti at the end of 1961 might explain why Ferrari has been loath to credit him for his work on the 250 GTO. That said, the book is made interesting by the photos and drawings of his many cars from 1952 to 2001, plus the histories of those that raced. This book has been translated into English, and not well, but the reason that it’s confusing has more to do with the fact that Olczyk defends Giotto’s honour without providing any proof either way. BSJ