Book reviews, August 2016, August 2016

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Maserati 250F

Ian Wagstaff

Another door-stop of a volume in the Porter Publishing Great Cars series, this one concerns a very special 250F. Yes, they all are, but chassis 2528 is one of the three lightweight 1957 cars, the one which Fangio niftily steered past the harbour mayhem to win the Monaco Grand Prix and which Jean Behra jumped into to carry off three non-championship F1 events. 

So it’s worthy of a place in this lavish series, and enjoys the same high-quality coverage. Wagstaff injects much detail into the story of its construction, front-line career and later life when raced by Neil and Nigel Corner and others, with hundreds of photos, many previously unpublished, plus cuttings, posters and of course all its results. I loved the shot of new 250Fs being dispatched wrapped in brown paper like Christmas presents, while a foldout Tony Matthews cutaway and detailed studio snappery add value to what at a glance is a high price for a car book but on inspection seems fair for such an assemblage of facts.  

Still, is a comparison of its six period drivers vital? Arguable, but it’s another impressive shot from the Porter armoury. GC

Published by Porter Press

ISBN: 978-1-907085-38-3, £60

Formula 1 – All The Races

Roger Smith

Now into its third edition, this is very nicely produced – and ‘thorough’ would be too weak a description of the content – but one wonders whether there remains much of an appetite for books of this nature. My habits tend towards the traditional and I prefer paper to digital, but websites now provide instantly accurate Formula 1 statistics as soon as each Grand Prix finishes [including ours – ed]. In those terms, books simply can’t compete.

They can provide contextual detail you might not find on the worldwide web, and this has plenty of that, but some of the accompanying illustrations have a perspective that might best be described as ‘curious’. SA

Published by Evro

ISBN: 978-1-910505-11-3, £50

Black Sheep in the Fast Lane

Ian Scott-Watson

If I’m writing about racing in Scotland Ian Scott-Watson is my first call. He has been involved since the 1950s, and has the proud boast of being the man who introduced a young Jim Clark to the sport. That’s probably the core of what would draw you to this book of memoirs, but his tales of forming a Charterhouse Supporters club, then the Borders Motor Racing Club, resurrecting the Border Reivers, instigating racing at Ingliston and his involvement with Ecurie Ecosse add up to a crucial part of the racing story north of the Border. 

There’s first-hand personal insights to be gained too, such as Clark navigating facing backwards in Ian’s DKW, being present at Colin Chapman’s first sighting of his future champion, many adventures during Ian’s time as Jim’s manager, being snowbound and rescued by Innes Ireland’s Snocat…

As well as cars, Scott-Watson designed buildings, including an Ibiza villa for the Chapmans and two unbuilt race circuits, redesigned the Clark memorial at Hockenheim and helped get the Clark statue erected in Kilmany. Plenty of entertainment in this enjoyable book, then, which may persuade you that Clark wasn’t always the shy, quiet man so often portrayed. GC

Published by Border Design

ISBN: 978-1-5262-0334-2, £9.95 + £2.05 p&p

Williams FW14B Workshop Manual

Steve Pendle

The latest Haynes manual aims to take the readers behind the scenes and under the skin of one of the most famous racing cars of the past 30 years. The FW14B was the car in which Nigel Mansell dominated the 1992 world championship, winning nine races and claiming his only world title. 

The author covers the history of Williams from humble beginnings to global domination well before launching into a forensic examination of the FW14B, a car originally intended to be a stop-gap measure early in the season until its successor, the FW15, could be introduced. Its stunning success – winning its first five Grands Prix – ensured it lasted the entire season.

As with previous Haynes manuals, which have covered everything from the Ford Fiesta to the Death Star from Star Wars, the analysis is comprehensive bordering on obsessive: there are detailed descriptions of every aspect of the car’s design and development; interviews with drivers; race reports and entire sections given over to the suspension, steering, brakes and hydraulic system – brought alive with clear diagrams and previously unpublished technical drawings from Williams.

The book could have done with an edit: Frank Williams was driving to Nice airport from the Paul Ricard track when he had his life- changing accident, not the other way around, but such errors are forgivable in a book that brings to life one of the most important racing cars of recent memory. JD

Published by Haynes

ISBN: 978-0-85733-825-9, £22.99

Motor Racing’s Strangest Races

Geoff Tibballs

The principle might be sound, but you can’t help feeling that an opportunity has here been missed. Author Tibballs has produced a chronology of some of history’s quirkiest events, but very little – if any – of the content breaks new ground. And the PR fluff describes the content as ‘humorous’, although there might be more suitable adjectives to describe the 1903 Paris-Madrid race (or indeed the first-lap pile-up in the 1966 Indy 500, even if that didn’t cause any serious injuries).

I have vague recollections of a production saloon race being delayed at Mallory Park after a litter of kittens was discovered in a tyre wall, and the FIA F3000 Championship was ever a source of improbable tales (from plagues of frogs via tornados to Russell Spence’s Reynard being craned away with him still inside it).

These and other less familiar tales might have given the plot a fresher twist. SA

Published by Pavilion

ISBN: 978-1-910232-96-5, £7.99

Lucas Oil Racing TV app

Remember when it might take several days for the result of a Grand Prix to trickle through to the UK… and racing in the States might as well have taken place in a parallel universe?

Streamlined communications now make it almost impossible not to know the result of a GP within seconds of the chequered flag, while racing from around the world is available in the corner of your lounge via a couple of taps on the remote. Yet still there is scope for more…

Lucas Oil’s new TV app brings various US racing categories to your phone or laptop, with live coverage of off-road and oval series that you won’t find covered in the UK specialist media. There is also an extensive archive of bygone races. If you fancy an alternative to the latest Mercedes F1 conquest, the next round of the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series is but a click away – and production will be slick. SA

https://lucasoilracing.tv/

Subscriptions from $4.99 per month

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