Reviews, December 2010



Uncrowned King – David Tremayne

Tremayne’s expertly researched biography attests to our continuing interest in the Austrian champion’s life and career. Jochen Rindt’s death at Monza 40 years ago was a huge blow to a sport embracing an exciting new ethos of commercialisation and professionalisation, embodied to perfection by the man himself.

Packed with beautiful photographs, this book traces Rindt’s early years of middle-class privilege to his emergence as high-profile public figure and sporting hero. Confounding expectation, someone rational and, above all, intellectually astute emerges from the numerous interviews with friends and colleagues. He certainly possessed the requisite pragmatism for a satisfactory top-line racing career in the 1960s; the objective being to earn the maximum amount of money and make one’s escape. The success achieved by the Jochen Rindt Car Show attests to considerable business acumen, while his open letter to the motoring press denouncing the use of high-mounted aerofoils is a model of expository argument.

Many believe Rindt would have gone into business with close friend Bernie Ecclestone after retiring from racing, with the two of them eventually running F1 together. Would the sport look different today, had events turned out otherwise?

Conjecture aside, a character as complex as Rindt’s requires a scrupulous, intelligent and sensitive biographer, and Tremayne has proved equal to the task. It’s a tremendous achievement and well worth the investment. IM Published by Haynes, ISBN 978 1 84425 472 9, £40

The life and times of George Abecassis – David Abecassis

This weighty biography provides a wonderfully comprehensive look into the life of HWM founder and Aston Martin works driver George Abecassis.

A Passion for Speed winds its way through George’s life from birth, first taste of motor racing, the war, his missions during it, his capture and time as a POW, on to his life and racing exploits after 1945.

Not only is the book adorned with superb photos from throughout his life, but the text is enhanced by extracts from George’s published articles, interviews and even the diary that he kept during the war, which includes first-hand accounts of all his missions.

Written by the subject’s son, this book has a personal touch that makes it deserving of a place in any motor racing enthusiast’s library. Whether you know a lot about Abecassis or not, you won’t be disappointed. EF Published by PJ Publishing Ltd, ISBN 978 0 9550102 6 2, £65

Takin’ the Mick – Mick Grant with Mac McDiarmid

Mick ‘Gritty’ Grant was one of the superstars of British bike racing in the 1970s and early ‘80s and often went handlebar-to-handlebar with the great Barry Sheene.

His major successes came from the hugely popular British championships, but it didn’t stop him winning 250 GPs, developing the ill-fated Honda NR500 and competing in countless races around the globe. His mastery of the Isle of Man circuit and numerous wins there deserve a hearty mention too.

The many anecdotes tell of his early days charging round his local roads on his Dad’s ‘borrowed’ antique motorbike, his racing career, the move into team management, right through to today and his love of trials riding.

Grant’s wonderfully down-to-earth approach runs through this book and will remind you of the now distant time when home-grown talent ruled the British race tracks on two wheels. DC Published by Haynes,
ISBN 978 1 84425 728 7, £19.99

– Paul Parker

This is another cracker in the Haynes series that has already covered F1 and sports cars in the 1960s and ‘70s. The beginning of the ‘50s was dominated by tiny British, French and Italian concerns, but by the end we saw the rise of Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar all vying for top honours. What this book does so beautifully is allow the images the space to breathe, thereby allowing the reader to savour the detail of each shot. All images have detailed captions, too, full of stories and anecdotes, making it much more than just a picture book. DC Published by Haynes, ISBN 978 1 84425 552 8, £35

– Bruce Jones

An interesting look at how Formula 1 has changed over the years. More an introduction to Formula 1 than a detailed account, but great photos. Published by Carlton Books, ISBN 978 1 84732 592 1, £20

Interesting film about Gordon Spice Racing during the late ‘70s and in particular 1980 when the Spice Capris dominated. There’s also an interview with Stirling Moss on the grid in an Audi 80 for his comeback race in the British Saloon Car series. Mini Films Ltd,, £12.95

Two films that should be in the DVD library of anyone who considers themselves a Formula 1 fan. The latter is worth getting just to watch Raymond Baxter. BP Video Library,, £16.99 each