Book reviews, January 2004, January 2004

Formula One Racing for Dummies

By Jonathan Noble and Mark Hughes

ISBN 0764570153

Published by Wiley, £14.99

Don’t be put off – the ‘Dummies’ format has been a huge success in the DIY learning field, and now it’s branching out into hobbies.

In this case our mentors are respected experts in the field: both write for Autosport, and Hughes also contributes to Motor Sport. So the info is of high quality, and offers much to fans —as well as dummies — covering engineering, safety, circuits, strategies and rewards.

Though it sometimes seems to veer from ‘how to be a spectator’ to ‘how to be a Formula One driver’, the text keeps a light touch in going from the super-basics for beginners (Why drivers make pitstops) to hints for regulars on viewing points and getting into the best parties.

I opened this rather doubtfully, but in fact it’s an excellent guide to F1. GC

BMW Portraits – Paul Rosche

By Karl H Hufstadt

ISBN 380251586

Published by BMW Mobile Tradition, £24.99

Paul Rosche wasn’t just a key element of BMW Motorsport, he simply was, more than anyone else, BMW motorsport. The engine wizard was at the heart of every racing programme the Munich firm undertook from the 1960s through to its return to Formula One in 2000.

This book not only outlines Rosche’s achievements in F1, Formula Two, touring cars and sportscars, but also reveals how crucial the chain-smoking Bavarian was in the history of BMW Motorsport itself. Hufstadt shows how he was a key member of an after-hours team that maintained an involvement in F2 after the manufacturer’s official withdrawal, and how he was instrumental in persuading the board to go F1 in the early 1980s.

It may be a rather lightweight read and the translation from German is often stilted, but this book nevertheless offers an invaluable insight into the career of one of the most successful engine builders of all time. GW

Formula One – Made in Britain

By Clive Couldwell

ISBN 1 85227 063 2

Published by Virgin Books, £18.99

Britain’s position at the heart of motorsport is well-known, but a close look at just how extensive and pervasive the UK’s influence in Formula One has become is fascinating, and Clive Couldwell delivers that.

A series of snapshot chapters on the major players — from McLaren and Williams, via Bernie Ecclestone and Max Mosley, to the great catalogue of top British drivers — makes it no surprise to learn that the business in this country employs 150,000 people and is worth £4.6 billion.

The descriptive passages provide the framework for the volume, but there is plenty of explanation too — both from people who work within the motorsport world and some of the academics who have studied it. There’s even a chapter on how it may all develop in the future. NP

TWR Jaguar Prototype Racers

By Leslie F Thurston

ISBN 0954103912

Published by JDHT, £24.95

TWR’s Jag prototypes stirred up great interest in sportscar racing in the late 1980s, particularly among UK fans, and Thurston covers the subject in detail.

If you want to know the contemporary records of any of the TWR sportscars, they’re here. From early XJR-6 to the XJR-17 prototype, there’s a wealth of history.

If you need to know about the IMSA exploits in the USA, or even the XJR-11s that went out to Japan for Suntec Racing, Thurston dishes the facts. There’s even a section on more recent exploits of the cars in historic racing.

It’s a detailed, thorough work, although I would have welcomed a little bit more story, perhaps from the mouths of those who were involved, and a bit less fact. Essentially a reference book, it would also benefit from an index. NP

John Gott – A Life in the Fast Lane

By Roy Ingleton

ISBN 9523437 1 1

Published by Cranbome Publications, £14.99

If only John Gott were still with us, he might be a sane voice against the tide of speed cameras fleecing drivers while depriving us of the safety net of police patrols monitoring our roads.

For Gott was both a senior policeman (the chief constable of Northants, no less) and a racer and rally driver. His skills took him to being leader of BMC’s rally team during its zenith in the early Sixties.

He was respected for his toughness, whether tackling events such as the daunting Liege-Sofia-Liege, or fighting crime on his patch.

He made his mark as a privateer on Alpine rallies before conceiving an official BMC team with Marcus Chambers. Thereafter, he was a regular in the world-beating Austin-Healeys, and stayed loyal to the marque by racing one after his rally days were done. Sadly, he died at the early age of 59 when he crashed his Healey in a race at Lydden.

Ingleton’s slim but thorough book is an affectionate portrait of a quiet man who had a big effect on our sport. GC

Die Solitude-Rennen

By Frank-Albert Illg & Thomas Mehne

ISBN 3-932563-22-0

Published by Text & Technik Verlag, 49 Euros

If you count back to the earliest motorbike race to feature Schloss Solitude, this German track has a rich 100-year history.

In that time there have been many layout variations, from one-way sprint, through early long-distance open road routes to the dedicated circuit that saw the end of racing here in 1965. Hence the profusion of maps in this massive book chronicling the history of this scenic arena which hosted dramatic grands prix as well as lesser racing.

With its text only in German, the photos have to stand up on their own, but such is their range and quality that you can gain a good feel for the demands and risks of the place, especially for the ‘bikers.

Many of the photos have not been published before — look out for the all-Messerschmitt race. Scary. GC