Book reviews, August 2015, August 2015

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Second to One
All but for Indy
Joseph S Freeman & Gordon Kirby

When Michael Andretti was first asked to write the foreword to this, he required some persuasion. You could understand him thinking that such a book – about drivers who came close to winning the Indianapolis 500, but didn’t actually do so – might have negative connotations. Then he read the script and realised otherwise.

It’s an old racing adage that nobody remembers those who finish second, so Motor Sport’s US editor Gordon Kirby set out to celebrate the species with collaborator Joseph S Freeman. It’s quite a cast, too: the aforementioned Andretti apart, you’ll find Arthur Duray, Lou Moore, Rex Mays, Eddie Sachs, Dan Gurney, Paul Tracy, Peter Revson… more than enough top-class racers to fill a full 500 grid, in fact.

The prose focuses mainly on individual Indy records, rather than broader career views, but it’s an interesting idea, very well executed and a refreshing change from the norm. SA

Published by Racemaker ISBN: 978-1-935240-07-5, $75

Top Fuel Dragster
1963 onwards (all models) – Workshop Manual
Dan Welberry

A couple of years have passed since Haynes withdrew from the world of motor sport publishing, but it continues to produce its well-established Workshop Manuals – and from time to time these throw up something sumptuous or quirky, with a strong competitive spirit. Recent examples include the Lotus 49 (£22.99), Ferrari 250 GTO (£25), Ford GT40 (£25) and this, a nuts and bolts guide to the world of top fuellers.

It outlines the niceties of a sport that is often unfairly dismissed by those who have never experienced its sound and fury. And at its highest level, it has arguably more complex intensity than any other branch of our sport.

A wealth of technical detail is supplemented by commentaries from leading racers, including Don Garlits and multiple European champion Andy Carter, and there are some terrific action sequences alongside endless photographs of gaskets.

The bottom line, though, is this: if you haven’t yet experienced a top-line meeting at Santa Pod, it’s time you did. SA

Published by Haynes ISBN: 978-0-85733-265-3, £21.99

Gilles Villeneuve
A Life in Pictures
Mario Donnini

Does the world need another Gilles Villeneuve book? Possibly not, but you’re unlikely to find anybody complaining about it in the Motor Sport office. As the title implies, this one is largely photographic – a cocktail of charming, candid portraits and no-nonsense race action. There is a fair amount of text, too, with eye-witness accounts from such as Mauro Forghieri and Marco Piccinini. This is bilingual – written in Italian, and translated into English that has a few missing conjunctions, but the words serve a largely secondary purpose.

A ‘life in pictures’ merits a half-decent Formula Atlantic portfolio or perhaps a snowmobile, yet there are no shots of Villeneuve’s career before Silverstone 1977. Some images are a touch grainy, even by the standards of late 1970s film processing, but their content is beyond reproach. SA

Published by Giorgio Nada ISBN: 978-88-7911-610-7, €40

Porsche 917
The Autobiography of 917-023
Ian Wagstaff

How can a single racing car with a relatively short, albeit important, career history inspire a book of 320 pages packed with detail? Very easily, as it turns out. The second in the ‘Great Cars’ series is masterful and deserves to be included in any ‘book of the year’ list.

Porsche 917-023 didn’t win much – except the race that mattered. It sounds blithe to name any 917 ‘unremarkable’, but in relative terms that’s what it would have been without Le Mans. The chassis paved the way for the (recently extended) record run of 17 Le Mans wins when it triumphed as the ‘tortoise’ to the Gulf and Salzburg ‘hares’ in 1970.

Motor Sport contributor Wagstaff uses the car as the fulcrum around which he spins a wider story, taking in every shade of this multi-coloured era of sports car racing. There are driver interviews and profiles of the seven men who raced 917-023, a chapter on the two teams that ran it, details of its life post-racing and a technical analysis illustrated by fine studio photos. Snippets of the wider world in 1970 also add welcome context.

Fine design and high-quality paper ensure period photos are presented as they should be – and that always makes a difference. We look forward to future releases in this series. DS

Published by Porter Press ISBN: 978-1-907085-21-5, £60

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