Books for the New Year
“The Indy 500—An American Institution Under Fire” by Ron Dorson. 229 pp. 9¼ in. x 6 in. (Bond Parkhurst Books, Newport Beach, California. 9.95 dollars). An ususual book this, which takes a hard look at the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, that remarkable Memorial Day institution that attracts enormous crowds and some 10,000,000 dollars to the American town of Indianapolis during the month of May each year. Since the bad accidents of 1964, 1966, 1971 and 1973 this unique track race where specialised cars do some 200 m.p.h. between the turns has come under increasing fire. But not for the first time. A bill introduced in 1923 might have ended this American institution which was launched in 1911.
Dorson’s book looks into all of it. How the track originated, what the scene at Indy is like, how the place developed, and the personnel behind it. I found this fascinating reading, as organising persons and teams, from the legendary Tony Hulman downwards, were depicted for me. For an American book the story is free from journalese. It covers many areas, how the race is publicised and controlled, how the drivers, the spectators, the crowd-handlers and the supporters, etc. see it. There are comparisons with the newer speedway at Ontario (to its detriment), explanations as to how the Indy crashes happened, how the enormous prize money is made up, how the race may have to be changed to meet future demands or how it will resist them.
There are pictures of celebrities, extracts from the Race Regulations, a good bibliography, etc. I rate this as essential reading for sincere students of motor racing or those who have been to, or intend to visit, the famous “hoosier-bowl”.—W.B.
“The Land Beyond The Ridge” by Roy K. Battson. 78 pp. 8 in. x 5 in. (Goose & Son, Ltd., Salisbury House, Station Road, Cambridge, CBI 2LA. £2.50).
This is the quite delightful account of a long motorcycling life enjoyed, right up to the present, by this enthusiastic author. It is based on articles published in our companion journal Motorcycle Sport. As many of our own readers are discerning enough to read this magazine as well as MOTOR SPORT they will already have enjoyed this superb re-capturing of the early days Of motorcycling, which commenced for the author with his brother’s 1904 Minerva and 1908 Triumph, in the year 1911, and reached personal ownership status for him after the war, in the guise of a two-stroke Sun. The makes of those days—Levis, Metro-Tyler, Radco, etc., point to the nostalgia that follows. The early days are better depicted than the later ones and the few pictures are very much of poor “Box Brownie” calibre (if that is not to libel an excellent camera for its time and price!). But I strongly recommend this flight backwards in time, and even those who have read Battson’s articles may like to have them between (rather expensive) covers.—W.B.
“The Day I Died” by Mark Kahn. 92 pp. 8¾ in. x 5½ in. (Gentry Books Ltd., 85 Gloucester Road, London, SW7. £2.95).
Here is another author with an obsession about accidents in motor racing! He describes, and gorily illustrates, escapes from death by Ireland (who should know!), Moss, Bonnier, Stewart, Cowen, Hulme, Parkes, Regazzoni, Trevor Taylor, Arundell, Lanfranchi, David Piper and others. It claims to give for the first time the cause of Moss’s final race accident but I don’t think much that is new emerges here. Why people write books like this is difficult to understand, financial gain apart. Why then am 1 including it ? Because, to be honest, I found I was compelled to read it.—W.B.
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The tireless G. N. Georgano has done two Source Books for Ward Lock, one on Vintage and Post-Vintage Cars, the other on Veteran Cars. The former has a fine dust-jacket using MOTOR SPORT’s colour picture of Russ-Turner’s Birkin single-seater Bentley. These are incomplete introductions to their subjects, but with nice pictures and useful brief histories of some 150 early cars. These little landscape books cost £1.25 each.
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Goose & Son Ltd. have revised and republished the major work by Ronald Clark “The Development Of The English Traction Engine”, first published in 1960. This comprehensive study has been out-of-print for,. some time, so the new edition is to be welcomed. It runs to 390 comprehensively illustrated 11¼ in. x 8½ in. pages and sells in the UK for £12.00.
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This is the time of year for annual-type surveys of motoring, of different degrees of accuracy and acceptability. 1974 was no exception. Thus there is “The Story of the Car” by David Hodges and Burgess Wise, a 320-page 11½ in. x 8½ in. volume packed with murky seen-before pictures relieved by colour plates, which Hamlyn will sell you for £2.95, good value, I suppose, by today’s standards, and the more interesting “Veteran Cars” by Wilson McComb, from the same group, running to 96 pages and priced at £1.50. Neither is likely to do much for those experienced enough to read MOTOR SPORT but both would please children eager to gain a grounding in motoring history.
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Rather different is “The Formula One Record Book” by John Thompson with Duncan Rabagliati and Dr. K. P. Sheldon. It sets out to report in detail all the Fl races of 1961 to 1965, the years of the 1½-litre Formula, in a sort of replica-type-written volume of accounts made for their own amusement by these enthusiasts, with hand-picked pictures. Race numbers, practice times, grids, race commentary and results are given for all these races, and car types and chassis numbers are quoted. This makes a 240-page 12 in. x 8¼ in. book which Leslie Frewin, 5, Goodwin’s Court, London, WC2N 4LL publish for £5.50. If you merely want pictures of the leading F1, F2, F5000, Indianapolis and sports-racing cars you will find them in “Racing Car Year” by Jonathan Thompson. But it is outdated, this soft-cover book promoted by Bond/Parkhurst, as it only covers 1973 cars. Up to date, however, is the welcome “Motor Cycle News Annual, ’75”, which puts you right in the picture concerning last year’s action in the leading fields of motorcycle sport, for £2.20. This excitingly illustrated annual is available from PSL, of Bar Hill, Cambridge.
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Perhaps faintly superficial in parts, “The Roadside Wildlife Book” by Richard Mabey sets out to bring nature to the notice of road users and to explain how wild creatures have adapted to the roadside and even to Motorways, and how care and consideration will help to save them from extermination by motor vehicles. Published by David & Charles of Newton Abbot, Devon, this book sells for £3.25.
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Our apologies to G. T. Foulis & Co. Ltd. for announcing “Gas Flow in the Internal Combustion Engine” as a reprint. This new book is in fact the culmination of the work of two professional theorists, Dr. Annand and Dr. Roc, both of whom have acted as consultants to BMW, Norton-Villiers-Triumph, etc. As such, it should be of great interest to all tuning establishments and engineers.
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A notable attempt to describe famous race circuits as well-known drivers see them from the cockpit is the idea behind “From Brands Hatch To Indianapolis” by Tonunaso Tommasi, the Italian writer, with photographs by David Phipps. There is an introduction by Fangio and the contents comprise descriptions of the courses, as well as the lappery of them. There is Fittipaldi at Brands Hatch, Reutemann at Buenos Aires, Revson at Indianapolis, Hulme at Kyalami, Cevert at Le Mans, Hill at Monaco, de Adamich at Monza, Ickx at the Nurburgring, Regazzoni at Spa and Peterson at Watkins Glen. The entire book is magnificently illustrated in colour, with black-and-white pictures of the corners on the various circuits numbered to coincide with the circuit diagrams. With additional colour drawings, circuit plans, and line drawings of winning cars down the years, this makes up for Hamlyn’s other rather dreary offerings described above. This lap-with-the-aces volume contains 239 11 in. x 8½ in. pages and is really excellent value at £3.95.
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Rolls-Royce have produced a high-class colour brochure “The Substance Of A Shadow”, “to record the unique engineering skills and craftsmanship which are built into each Rolls-Royce motor car”, to quote their publicity department.
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The Metropolitan Police tell us that £1,004.70 was finally earned for the Police Orphanage by their “History of the Traffic Branch”, which was reviewed in these columns.
News of New Books
There is a comprehensive book about Vandervell and his successful British Vanwall GP cars in the pipeline and if it has not already been published “The Tyre Book” from Vintage Tyre Supplies Ltd., in association with Dunlop, aimed at helping owners of veteran and vintage cars to obtain the best possible service from their tyres, soon will be.