A Century of Grand Prix Motor Racing

By Anthony Pritchard

Published by AMP, £19.95. ISBN I 899870 38 5

Do not confuse this book with Ivan Rendell's Chequered Flag, 100 Yeats of Motor Racing. It's certainly an understandable thing to do as, though this new book restricts itself to Grand Prix racing while Rendell's work merely majors on the subject, the structure of both publications is disappointingly similar. Both are a chronological trot through their subjects and fall into the category of books that, rightly or wrongly seem to me to be bought by those who tend to know nothing about racing as presents for their enthusiast friends or relatives. It's an easy and safe thing for the uninformed to buy and, I guess, explains why, such was the rush to have it out in time for Christmas, it does not even acknowledge in its 1998 section the fact that Mika Hakkinen won the World Championship.

That said, this book does have an .considerable trick up its sleeve that will guarantee it immunity from the dusty obscurity so many books that start life under the Christmas tree endure and, instead, ensure its safe passage to the book shelves of many of its recipients. The clue is on the front cover where author Pritchard admits only to having 'compiled' the book.

This is a veiled reference to the fact that a large bulk of the words are not those of the author but reprints of articles from books and magazines published at the time. This adds a genuinely new dimension to the book and contains some real gems, such as the interview of Clark and Graham Hill on the eve of the 1962 South African Grand Prix, an event the Scot needed to win to have any chance of gaining the title. Similarly enthralling pieces pepper the rest of the book, and Pritchard's particular success has been rooting out the best stories from history and leaving the rather more popular but tired tales where they belong. The result is not had for £20 as it offers more than is at first apparent. I don't agree with the publisher's contention that the photographs are 'exceptional' and the layouts could have been more imaginative but, having opened the book with a heavy heart. I now find myself feeling well disposed towards it.