Reviews, August 2017

Mille Miglia Portraits

Leonardo Acerbi

There might be better books published between now and 2017’s conclusion, but few are likely to come anywhere close to this in terms of value. Sometimes £60 covers only the slimmest of volumes, but this combines heft with sumptuous content.

Although Leonardo Acerbi gets a name check for supplying words (and does a very fine job as he profiles some of the Mille Miglia’s most celebrated winners), the tome’s real hero is Alberto Sorlini, a professional lensman who died last year at the age of 96. He was the official Mille Miglia photographer from 1947 until the event ran for the last time in 1957 and it’s not hard to see why he landed the gig.

Almost all the images herein are his work and even the most mundane tend towards the stunning. There are some fine action images and wonderful portraits, of course (including a few of Motor Sport’s DSJ, winning co-driver in 1955), but Sorlini had an eye for the bigger picture and his work provides a marvellous sense of both occasion and location. 

On its own, a gorgeous 1954 shot of the public swamping the works Lancia D24s in the Piazza della Vittoria is sufficient to justify the purchase price. SA

Published by Giorgio Nada

ISBN: 978-88-7911-673-2, £60


Inside F1’s Greatest Race

Malcolm Folley

Monaco may be a sunny place for shady people but it is also – for better or for worse – inextricably linked to Formula 1. In this book, by the seasoned sports journalist Malcolm Folley, that relationship is untangled and explained. It is fertile ground for a book: from Senna to Prost, Stewart to Schumacher and Hamilton winning at the street circuit has become a rite of passage for all truly great drivers, while its glamour, wealth and yacht-jammed harbour have come to define the sport in many casual observers’ eyes. However, despite enviable access that allowed Folley to interview, among others, Niki Lauda, Jackie Stewart and David Coulthard, the book often suffers from slipping into newspaper journalese and hyperbole (Grace Kelly, apparently, “infused the landscape with her glamour and beauty,” when she moved to the principality). It is written in a lively, immediate style, which is to its credit, but the author can also be guilty of inserting himself into the story when not needed – whether that is boasting of a headline he once wrote or mentioning a Hollywood star he interviewed for no apparent purpose. This is a fun and readable book for people with a passing interest in Formula 1, but there is little here that seasoned fans will find new. JD

Published by Century

ISBN: 978-1-780-89616-8, £20

Jim Clark

Eric Dymock

Twenty years have passed since this celebrated biography first appeared in print, but it has now been revised and reissued with a very particular purpose. A royalty from each sale will be donated to The Jim Clark Trust, which is raising funds to build a bigger, better museum to promote the Scot’s legacy. Worthwhile, then, even if you already possess the original.  

An authoritative overview of Clark’s career, respected author Dymock’s prose was well received first time around and two decades have done nothing to dilute its appeal. Prefaced by tributes from Jackie Stewart, David Coulthard, Allan McNish and Dario Franchitti, it features many period photos that drip with pertinence and charm. 

We’ve all seen shots of Clark at the helm of a Lotus 25; here, you’ll also find him aboard a Ford 4000 tractor, complete with wellies, or else posing with Twiggy and a Ford Corsair. SA

Published by Dove

ISBN: 978-0-9574585-5-0, £22.50


The Search for Power

Graham Robson

This hasn’t had quite as many rebuilds as the average DFV, but Graham Robson’s definitive Cosworth history has been updated yet again – to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the firm’s most famous engine.

‘Thorough’ is too weak a word to describe Robson’s research, which takes us from Cosworth’s early days in London – a rich
seam of engaging anecdotes – through to the firm’s current occupation of several prime slices of industrial Northampton (just around the corner from the local football stadium). Cosworth might no longer be a big-name player in Formula 1 – but it remains a big name and is still very involved in most top-line racing categories. Not having its name on the cam covers doesn’t mean it isn’t involved.

The book is let down only by the pedestrian layout, but the content provides adequate compensation and the detailed appendices are a wonderful reference source.

More to the point, you have to love any company so pragmatic that it called one of its racing units the MAE because it was a modified Anglia engine… SA

Published by Veloce

ISBN: 978-1-845848-95-8, £55


The Family Silver

Nigel Trow

When you’re cataloguing the history of a marque that specialises in stunning machines, the book needs to look the part. Nigel Trow’s Maserati, The Family Silver certainly does. 

The title is actually two separate books, one covering the Italian manufacturer’s past from 1881 to 1944 and the other dealing with 1945 to 2014. This makes the £195 price tag less eye-watering than it initially seems, especially when the quality of the production is taken into account. 

The classy feel is ably backed up by the words that cover the thick and expensive paper. The book begins with a letter from ‘Bentley Boy’ Sammy Davis’s son Colin, which sets the warm, inviting and informative tone of the following 900 pages or so. The story of Maserati itself meanwhile is told in a way that displays Trow’s obvious knowledge and passion for all racing and cars. 

The accompanying photos are equally as absorbing. Black and white archive shots with Sicilian backdrops are always pleasing, but each shot deserves its place and commands your time. Just like the book as a whole. JP

Published by Plenham Press

ISBN: 978-1-873655-65-7, £195

Cobra Pilote

The Ed Hugus Story

Robert D Walker

The story of Ed Hugus is one certainly worth telling. Without him Shelby Cobra’s eponymous marque might never have got off the ground. Not only that but he was a useful road racer (and was rumoured to have driven an hour of Jochen Rindt and Masten Gregory’s 1965 Le Mans win, though he didn’t appear on the poduim). He was friends with Luigi Chinetti, and similar names appear throughout.

Cobra Pilote’s premise is good, and author Robert Walker has documented his many conversations with Hugus, but despite that it can feel a little matter of fact. JP

Published by Dalton Watson

ISBN: 978-185443283-4 £69