Racers Apart

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Motor racing biographies are commonplace. Racers Apart, by Motor Sport’s Executive Editor David Tremayne is something new.

The author has chosen a selection of drivers – not all of them circuit racers – who have particularly appealed to him. Some of them he has worked with in his role as F1 correspondent for Motoring News, some created a deep impression during his youth, others left a legacy he found irresistible. He has chronicled the careers of a whole range of characters, from the predictable (Mansell, Senna, Clark, Villeneuve) to the unexpected (Tony Brise, rocket boat entrepreneur Lee Taylor, 1929 Indy winner Ray Keech).

This is effectively an excellent series of essays about the chosen subjects, enlivened by the author’s strong personal feelings and embellished with frequently amusing anecdotes from assorted contemporaries. Priced at £24.95 and published by MRP, it is the sort of thing one can dip into at one’s leisure, though it is also sufficiently compelling to keep you ploughing through once you’ve started. SA

CT Foulis & Co of Yeovil have published “Jaguar Performance and Pride” by Pete Lyons and the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide, led by a team of American researchers. This big book with its 450 illustrations tells again the Jaguar story, from the sidecars and the SS cars to the XJ220 era and future projects. I can see no real need for it, unless it titillates Jag-folk who must have everything ever written about the make, being myself quite content to re-read Lord Montagu’s original study of the subject and the detailed follow-ups so well done by Andrew Whyte and Paul Skilleter. But if you see otherwise, this latest history sells for £14.99.

Brooklands Books’ Gold Portfolio Lotus Europa, 1956-1975 packs in 59 press articles on the largely-forgotten Lotus model, and I am pleased to see that four of these are from MOTOR SPORT, in one of which DSJ calls the Europa, which he drove to Sicily in 1969, “Colin Chapman’s whizzer” and the 1973 Europa Special “Colin Chapman’s Super-whizzer”, outdating the Elan. Those searching for such a Lotus will relish this book, priced at £11.95, from PO Box 146, Cobham, Surrey, KT11 1LG. WB

It is excellent that the Porsche Story by Julius Weitmann, which gave advocates of this car the complete history back in 1968 in an English edition and which was revised and edited by Michael Cotton in 1985, after an enlarged version had been published in 1971, has now been brought up to date again, in a fourth edition containing more than 700 photographs, the earlier ones those fine pictures from Weitmann’s own camera, so that the whole competition history of Porsche up to the beginning of 1990 (14 pages of specifications and race results) is available in this magnificent 432 page coverage. The publishers are Patrick Stephens Ltd of Yeovil; the price £25.00. WB

Peter Lewis’s biography of “Alf Francis — Racing Mechanic, 1948-58”, which was published in 1957 and reprinted in 1958 and 1959 has now been re-issued with a new closing chapter, by Foulis of Yeovil, priced at £25. I see that my review of this book has been republished in its entirety on the dust-jacket, which has new art work. The book was outstanding when it first appeared but others in similar outspoken and detailed style have followed. However, this is a very interesting look back to the days of Moss beginning his great career, of the start of HWM, of Rob Walker’s racing and the Cooper-Climax days, etc. WB

For those who collect everything about Jaguars, the Oxford Press/Haynes Publishing Group of Yeovil have published “Jaguar Saloons — Grace, Space and Pace” by Chris Harvey, with lots of pictures laced with description, priced at £18.50. WB

Anthony Pritchard’s latest book describes itself as “a panorama” of Grand Prix racing, and that is not a bad description of a work which stretches from Emile Levassor to Ayrton Senna. But instead of a continuous race-by-race narrative, Grand Prix Racing — the Enthusiasts’ Companion, sorts the story into ten eras and intersperses condensed outlines of those years with articles from other sources. These are sometimes contemporary (DSJ on Rheims in 1956, Hawthorn writing about the 1958 Moroccan GP) and sometimes historical (Cyril Posthurnus on various aspects of the ’20s, Alan Henry on the ’70s).

It is much more successful than it sounds, making a very readable book to consume whole or dip into. The inserts, which might cover a particular car, a race, or a team such as BRM, illuminate the story, while the accompanying photographs are excellent. Many come from Aston’s own T C March collection, otherwise unpublished, and are very striking. There are two colour sections, but it is the black and whites which have the impact. (Aston is releasing some of this archive as a print collection.)

A good single work on a wide ranging subject, with a foreword by Stirling Moss, published by Aston Publications, Bourne End, Bucks. 256pp. £17.95. GC

From Crowood come two more in the Autoclassics series, covering Lotus Esprit (by our own Jeremy Walton) and Jensen Interceptor (John Tipler). These one-model offerings go into some depth, not only on technical aspects but illustrating the company backgrounds by talking to the people involved. Both firms’ struggles and hard times (MOTOR SPORT’S Proprietor reports that Colin Chapman still owes him £13 8/- for advertising in 1963!) make interesting reading, particularly given the world of difference between current Lotus high-tech production and the occasional handbuilt Jensen which still trickles from the factory.

There are a great many photographs in both books, though in the Interceptor’s case these serve mainly to show how few variations there were in the car’s life. In this respect the Lotus is the more rewarding subject. As well as much tabular information and potted biographies, both have a chapter on purchase and restoration, rounding out a good £19.95-worth. GC

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