Reviews, January 2005

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Bizzarrini: A Technician Devoted to Motor Racing by Winston Goodfellow, ISBN 88 7911 317 8. Published by Giorgio Nada Editore. £29.99

Engineer, designer, test driver, car manufacturer, university lecturer and farmer — sometimes simultaneously— Giotto Bizzarrini is nothing if not prolific. A sense that’s immediately evident from reading this glossy hardback. There have been few texts dedicated to this maverick genius, most of which have been pretty dismal, so all credit goes to Goodfellow for getting the notoriously publicity-shy Bizzarrini to open up.

The breadth of this enigmatic Tuscan’s career is extraordinary. The author recounts the story behind his stint at Alfa, his time working at Ferrari, the palace coup that ended his spell there and the move into becoming a car builder. Much of this will be familiar, but it is Bizzarrini the marque that’s most of interest. With the Italo-American hybrids currently rewriting the past in historics, the results tables for Bizzarrini’s competition forays make for interesting reading. Even if this, too, is familiar stuff to some, there are several stories which may not be: for example, we knew nothing of the mid-1960s 327cu in Chevy V8-powered monoposto that, for a few weeks at least, alluded to a future F1 entry. It’s also good to see some proper information on the well respected but rarely written about AMC AMX/3 supercar project.

The text’s fat could have been trimmed back a bit — in the foreword the author actually admits that he was asked to lengthen the original manuscript — and the extensive quoting from period road tests and other articles does get in the way at times.

Having gained Bizzarrini’s trust, Goodfellow’s obvious hero-worship does occasionally rise to the surface as he’s loathe to be too critical of the man. This is in the main left to quotes from those who worked with him, which mostly boil down to ‘he had a bit of a temper’ soundbites.

What grates more than anything is the size of the typeface — it is ludicrously big.

These comments aren’t intended to belittle what is principally a solid work, one that’s reasonably priced and well put together. It makes for a fitting, if thinner, accompaniment to the author’s earlier labour of love ISO Rivolta: The Men, The Machines.

***

Ayrton Senna: Through My Eye by Paul-Henri Cahier, ISBN 9760392 6. Published by Autosports Marketing Associates. £29.99

Paul-Henri Cahier approaches his job from the perspective of an artist, and when his muse was a man with an aura like Ayrton Senna it led to spectacular results. You won’t see a better collection of photos dedicated to the Brazilian ace.

Senna’s 10-year F1 career is broken down chronologically, making up over 100 pages of images — and there’s not a single word to accompany them; a separate chapter is set aside for captions against thumbnails of the shots. — DS

***

Torrey Pines Remembered — A Scrapbook

by Art Evans, ISBN 9705073 4 8. Published by Photo-Data-Research. $19

Another of Art Evans’ scrapbooks which are fun for dipping into but unlikely to win any design awards.

If you’re passionate about the embryonic days of US road racing, there’s plenty to like here, with some evocative images of the short-lived California track spliced with reprints of period ads and reports lifted from the original programmes and magazines. It’s always great to see photos of one-offs such as Roger Barlow’s Simca Special and Ken Miles’ Flying Shingle mixing it with exotica, and first-hand observations from those who were there is all good stuff. It’s just that some worthwhile info is buried, repro is poor and the stick-and-paste approach to book production is a let-down.

Well worth a look but could be a lot better. Visit www.fabulousfifties.com — RH

***

The British Saloon Car Championship 1958-1972 by Martyn Morgan Jones, ISBN 1 870519 62. Published by Bookmarque. £39.99

The subhead reads ‘Highlighting the Triple-Winning Era of the Bevan and McGovern Imp’ —which says it all, really. The bulk of the text concerns tuning wizard George Bevan and his ace driver Bill McGovern and how they won three BSCC titles on the trot in a second-hand Hillman Imp.

With fresh gen on both men, the car’s specification and a race-by-race account of their victory years, this is an enjoyable read, while the rivals chapter is a welcome touch.

There’s a wealth of images of tin-tops trading paint, although some colour would have been nice. And while the author’s knowledge of all things Imp is well established, merging Jonathan Williams’s GP career with Roger Williamson’s is a bit of a faux pas. Even so, his love of the subject isn’t in doubt. — RH

***

The Unfulfilled Dream — The Story of Motor Racing at Aintree by Tony Bagnall, ISBN 1903378 176. Published by TFM. £20

A timely new work that goes some way to filling a large gap in racing texts. In its heyday the Liverpool venue hosted the British Grand Prix five times, along with other major events, and Bagnall tells the story of how and why this happened, and outlines the later years as a shortened clubbie venue up to 1982. The author has clearly spoken to many of those who raced at the track (Roy Salvadori wrote the foreword), and you do get a feel for the place and its significance in motor racing lore.

It’s also a pleasure to see the many images, most of which have never before been published. The occasional captioning error sneaks in, most obviously Dan Gurney being mistaken for fellow American racer Masten Gregory, but there’s much to commend here. And it’s excellent value, too. — RH

***

Motor Racing at Brands Hatch in the Seventies by Chas Parker, ISBN 1 904788 068. Published by Veloce. £12.99

The latest addition to the ‘Those Were the Days’ series covers the golden era for everybody’s favourite Kentish grand prix circuit.

Like its brothers and sisters, this work is cheap and cheerful and has a charming scrapbook quality. Indeed, the author was simply a regular fan during the 1970s, snapping every photo himself from the spectator banks at his beloved track. Not every shot is in focus, but they are all in colour, and there are a few absolute gems: the kind of thing we look out for in our own You Were There… series.

The chapters roll through the years giving brief reports of the major meetings, with some detail added in the captions.

In all, a book that is hardly definitive but certainly ‘does exactly what it says on the tin’. — DS