Motor Racing Directory

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“Motor Racing Directory” edited and produced by Mike Kettlewell. 544 pp. 800 illustrations. 8¼” x 5¾” , (Ketzleurell Trumpet Information Trade Services, The Mill House, Station Road, Eastville, Boston, Lincolnshire PE22 8LS. £7.95).

This is a magnificent feat of compilation by freelance motor racing journalist, former editor of Autocourse and one-time Autosport staff man Mike Kettlewell, which has already won him the Pierre Dreyfus Award as the most outstanding journalistic effort by a Guild of Motoring Writers member in 1979. As well as compiling and writing most of the contents, Kettlewell was also responsible for the book’s production and layout and selling advertising; the mind boggles at the labour of love involved. It is the culmination of 10 years of planning, sifting through 20 years of motor sporting material and painstaking writing, re-writing and checking of thousands of facts and figure, Without a doubt it is the most comprehensive guide to British motor racing ever published.

Virtually everything a competitor, official or spectator wants to know about British motor racing is to be found in the Motor Racing Directory. BRSCC executive director Peter Browning opens the book with an article on how a motor race is run, interspersed with discussions on timekeeping, starting, commentating, scrutineering, photography and the job of a Press Officer, by well-known personalities. Next follows details of Britain’s racing car manufacturers, including lists of past models and specifications of many of the 1979 cars, from Reliant 750 Formula to Formula Two machinery. There are biographies and photographs of over 200 drivers from all classes of British motor racing.

Maps and details of every motor racing circuit at Britain and Ireland are comprehensive, even to listing the type of beer in the bar and every lap record. There are details too of the trade companies which support motor racing and biographies of some of the key personnel involved. The role of the RAC in governing British motorsport is outlined, followed by histories of the motor clubs involved.

Facts and figures are Kettlewell’s forte, which is why for many years he was the official score-keeper for most of the major British racing championships. This skill is apparent throughout the book, but especially so in his lists of past winners, starting with those in British and major FIA motor racing Championships. Then follows a staggering 48 page section listing the winners of all major British races from the 1903 Gordon Bennett Cup to the 1979 RAC Tourist Trophy, complete with cross-indexing. Not content with this problematic task, the painstaking Kettlewell then delves into the World Championship series, 1950 to 1979, in unparalleled detail. There are full championship points tables from each year followed by interesting facts like the youngest driver to start a race (Ricardo Rodriguez, aged 20 years 113 days when he finished fourth in the 1962 Belgian Grand Prix) to the oldest to start a race (Fagioli, aged 53 when he shared an Alfa Romeo 159 with Fangio to win the 1951 French Grand Prix), the fastest race, the drivers who won most races and set most pole positions. Biographies and photographs of every World Champion, from Farina to Scheckter are set in individual boxes amongst the championship points tables. All this information is found in a separate section on Grand Prix racing, incorporating details of the cars, teams and drivers involved in the 1979 season, for though this is a British motor racing guide, the picture for the enthusiast would be incomplete without consideration of the premier World league.

A guide to motor racing terminology should be useful for educating wives and children. But even for the experts education never ceases and Kettlewell’s sensible list of suggested motoring book titles will help in that task. Contributors write about motor racing photography for the amateur, unravel the different classes and categories of racing cars in British motor racing and outline the major international categories and there is an article about the Gunnar Nilsson Fund. A section on racing drivers’ schools describes each establishment’s method of operation and details of race car hire. There is even a list of all the racing machinery to be found in the ever-increasing number of British collections and museums.

Kettlewell’s masterpiece is completed by a 74-page directory of names, addresses and telephone numbers of companies of every scale involved in motor racing.

In a foreword to the book, Jackie Stewart describes it as “the most complete source of information on motorsport I have had the privilege to read”. I can only reiterate that and express admiration for Kettlewell’s mammoth achievement, indisputably the new “bible” of British motor racing, into which he has sunk everything. He plans to make it an annual publication, updating some chapters and replacing others with completely new material.

Motor Racing Directory is available from all leading motoring bookshops or direct from Kettlewell, post and packing free. — C.R.