Book reviews, December 2014, December 2014


Motor sport cinema is presently all the rage – the BBC even has a 1970s F1 drama brewing – but it’s unlikely that much will ever match this for power and raw emotion.

Narrated by Liam Neeson, ROAD looks at the world of motorcycle road racing through two generations of the Dunlop family, brothers Joey and Robert and their nephews/sons Michael and William. The headline stories might be familiar enough – Joey, the record-breaking TT rider who died in a minor race in Estonia, Michael winning the 250cc event at the North-West 200 in 2008, two days after his father was killed during practice for the same event – but candid interviews and illuminating on-board footage provide glimpses of extraordinary balance… and even more extraordinary mindsets.

In this day and age, we should be grateful that road racing’s gladiatorial free spirit has not been legislated into oblivion – and we trust it never shall be. If you have yet to experience it first-hand, this is a 1hr 40min illustration of why you should.

It’s tough in parts, but it’s never less than riveting. SA

Produced by Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment £15.99 (Blu-Ray £17.99)

Racing Colours
Simon Owen

Motor sport has a vibrancy few industries can match, from the dramatic poise of a car at the limit to the irresistible lure of two drivers scrapping wheel to wheel. And then there’s the background palette: a scarlet Maserati will always stand out, but even theoretically dull British Racing Green sparkles when the sunlight catches it correctly.

The sport’s vibrant hues caught the attention of budding artist Simon Owen, who went on to forge his reputation though a series of detailed watercolours. In more recent times, he developed digital works of art based on sections of famously liveried racing cars. He died in 2012, sadly, in his late 40s, and at the time of his passing was preparing a book of digital images, complete with a short chapter on the technique he used to create them.

This has now been published and stands as a tribute to his work.

The images on their own would be striking, but each is accompanied by a pertinent quote from leading racing personalities. They are short, but often revealing – eye-witness Alain Menu discussing Ayrton Senna’s 1988 Monaco GP pole lap, for instance, or this from Martin Brundle, on his Rally GB experience with Toyota in 1999: “We were practising on a special stage, maybe 15 miles long, and by the end of the day I was within half a second a mile of the other two… and bloody impressed with myself. Anyway, we got to the first stage, where it was misty and raining – and I was 15 seconds a mile slower! It was then that I realised these guys have a talent we just don’t know about.” The combination works well. SA

Published by Veloce ISBN 978-1-845846-52-7, £19.99

50 Shades of Rust
Tom Cotter

For every classic car owner with an unhealthy obsession to polish wheel nuts vigorously enough to reflect proud faces, there is another who dreams of finding an oxidising wreck half-buried in a shed.

Car owners have an increasingly tricky love/hate relationship with rust. Where once we found ourselves eradicating every spot, today there is an increasing trend to embrace the rusty patina and let it help tell each car’s story.

This book celebrates tales of owners and collectors digging up and rescuing all types of car, from rare Porsches and Mustangs to humble Datsuns and TVRs via Dale Earnhardt’s farm truck…

Each of the discoveries is described in a short, 500-word snapshot accompanied by an image of where the adventure began.

At £20 this isn’t cheap, but it is an entertaining read about enthusiastic people literally digging up the past. DC

Published by Motorbooks ISBN 978-0-7603-4575-7, £20

Shelby Mustang: 50 Years
Colin Comer

Ford’s ‘American Capri’ had a stonking sales start and was then overtaken by a new tide of muscle cars. What pitched it up a grade was Carroll Shelby’s input, and Comer’s book describes the progression via all-conquering SCCA racer through Boss and Trans-Am versions to the recent resurgence of the name. Generously illustrated with period and current shots and contemporary press cuttings, it intersperses a detailed history with memories from the likes of Peter Brock and Chuck Cantwell, who turned the cooking Mustang into the GT350. There’s plenty to learn – about the rare Drag Unit cars, how the GT350 name arose and Shelby’s Mexican operation – plus a modest foreword by Mustang godfather Lee Iacocca. GC

Published by Motorbooks ISBN 978-0-7603-4479-0, £34