Reviews, December 2015

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Alain Prost

Maurice Hamilton

Hallelujah! Here’s a rare English biography of an unfathomably overlooked motor racing great, with committed input from the
man himself. 

And not before time.

The cult of Senna and perhaps the scars of team ownership have not been kind to the modern perception of Alain Prost. The stealth and subtlety of his approach, in and out of the car, made him harder to love than others.
But as this book reminds us, he was always devastatingly fast, and the cultured intelligence didn’t actually equate to the demonised myth of Senna. Quite the opposite.

Like the author’s previous volume on the sainted Brazilian, the book is brought to us directly by the McLaren empire – but don’t let that put you off!

This is a genuine piece of work, mirroring the Senna book in its quality high-gloss format. The collection of voices, from mechanics, engineers, rivals, Ron Dennis and Prost himself, adds superb depth and detail as we are guided by the seasoned narrator through an exceptional career.

Highly recommended to puncture ill-considered Prost prejudice. DS

Published by Blink

ISBN: 978-1-905825-98-1, £35

Formula 1 in Camera 1960-69 Volume Two

Paul Parker

Despite what our rose-tinted Ray-Bans might imply, Formula 1 wasn’t always at the sport’s cutting edge during the 1960s. Reliability was often poor, Jim Clark frequently finished about a fortnight clear of his rivals and Jackie Stewart won the 14-car 1969 Spanish Grand Prix by two clear laps.

The equipment might have been more elegant, and paddock ambience more appealing, but the sport was rarely as competitive as it would later become. For all of which, it was infinitely more photogenic.

This second volume in this series hammers home the point every bit as effectively as did the first.

It’s a chronological trip through the decade, with splashes of fact-rich text and captions as supporting acts to some wonderful images. Shots have been selected from a variety of well-known sources, including LAT, Sutton Images, Cahier and the Michael Cooper Archive. Some will be familiar, but that doesn’t lessen their appeal.

It’s tinged at times with the twin realities of pain and tragedy, but for the most part is a cocktail of beauty, opposite lock, humanity and accessibility (check out the Clermont-Ferrand paddock from 1969, an illustration of how circuits should perhaps still look, or a TV cameraman’s precarious but glorious vantage point at Spa in 1966).

Marvellous, in a word. SA

Published by Behemoth

ISBN: 978-0-9928789-2-0, £40

Grand Prix Circuits

Maurice Hamilton

Maurice Hamilton has been prolific of late and one of his latest releases is a well written and handsomely illustrated guide with a simple format: each circuit gets a page of text, a nice big image and a two-page map overleaf.

The main problem with this is that while a one-page explanation might work for circuits with short F1 histories, like Montjuïch or Dallas, for those like Monza that have been there from the beginning, there seems little point in featuring them at all. This gives the book a hit-and-miss feel, and seasoned fans might find themselves wishing the book focused solely on the more obscure venues and delved into some of the non-championship circuits.

That doesn’t detract from the quality of what is there, though. Each map shows the different layouts F1 used over time while the street circuits are marked in the context of their surroundings, which will almost inevitably prompt many a visit to Google Maps.

The photography is also frequently stunning – Clay Regazzoni with a panoramic backdrop of highway, sand and the Queen Mary at Long Beach is a particular highlight.

Not an essential purchase, but its ease of navigation and useful statistics boxes give it some value as a reference book, plus it’s full of interesting anecdotes. ACH

Published by Collins

ISBN: 978-0-00-813660-4, £30

Le Mans: The Official History 1923-29

Quentin Spurring

This is the sixth volume in author Spurring’s magnum opus. Having previously covered 1949-1999, this takes us back to the dawn of endurance racing’s most durable staple. Despite what the title says, there is also a chapter on 1906-1922 to add context to
Le Mans’ place in motor sport history (the locality played host to the first Grand Prix race to feature a repeat series of laps around the same course).

The recipe is as before, with events analysed via a series of sub-plots backed up by extensive illustrations (no mean feat, given the period here covered) and comprehensive results tables.

The format might be familiar, but this is fast becoming one of the modern age’s finest reference series. SA

Published by Evro

ISBN: 978-1-910505-08-3, £50

A Sicilian Dream

The story of the greatest road race in history

Written and directed by Philip Walsh

There are many fascinating tales woven into this very Italian film, which stars Alain de Cadenet and Italian architect, writer and presenter Francesco da Mosto.

The task of telling the Targa Florio story in 70 minutes is tough, though, especially when there is no archive footage for much of its history. Actors are brought in to fill the
gaps and some of this sits a little uncomfortably alongside the great post-war footage. On that note, why, in 2015, do filmmakers still make the mistake of speeding up modern footage of cars, thinking it will give a better impression of speed?

Highlights include short stories – such as why Enzo Ferrari refused to get in lifts after an ‘experience’ at the Targa – and an onboard clip of Brian Redman practising the course
and talking through his lap while locals scatter at the sound of him arriving. We’re not sure why such a central figure wasn’t interviewed for the film.

It is self-indulgent in parts, but worthwhile if you know precious little about the great Italian road race. EF

Upfolds Media, www.siciliandreammovie.com

Stirling Moss Scrapbook 1955

by Stirling Moss & Philip Porter

This sold out first time around but is now available once more, reprinted to celebrate the 60th anniversary of one of Moss’s most distinguished campaigns (including his maiden F1 world championship success, at Aintree, and the Mille Miglia victory shared with Motor Sport’s Denis Jenkinson).

Featuring period press clippings, photographs and contemporary text to tie together the whole, it’s a carbon copy of the original but none the worse for that. SA

Published by Porter Press

ISBN: 978-0-9550068-0-5, £39.95
(£54.95 signed)

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