Reviews, January 2014

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1967

Chris Amon, Scuderia Ferrari and a Year of Living Dangerously, By John Julian

Decent books about Chris Amon are a scarce breed, so this adds welcome bookshelf diversity for a reasonable price.

One man’s first season with a team might not be an obvious topic for a whole book (occasional, Lewis Hamilton-style cash-ins aside), but 1967 was a fascinating, tumultuous campaign, with Amon stepping into the aftermath of John Surtees’s defection, Ferrari signing four F1 drivers but running fewer cars, the loss of Lorenzo Bandini and a concurrent sports car programme with the elegant 330 P4.

Author Julian spoke extensively to Amon and other drivers, including Surtees and Dan Gurney, but also contacted Ferrari insiders and dipped into a little lateral thought by tracking down Eva Marie Saint, who got to meet a few drivers while fulfilling a leading role in John Frankheimer’s Grand Prix.

It’s an engaging collage that paints a real-world picture of period life as a racing driver – and the accompanying photographs are consistently wonderful (no surprise, given that they are sourced from such as Klementaski, Bernard Cahier and Nick Loudon).

Each chapter has a suggested musical accompaniment: 46 years ago, there were almost certainly worse things to be doing than heading to Silverstone with Procul Harum’s Whiter Shade of Pale on the car radio. SA
Published by David Bull,
ISBN 978-1-935007-24-1, £35

Autocourse

Official History of the Indianapolis 500, By Donald Davidson and Rick Shaffer

Widely acclaimed upon its initial release in 2006, this official history was one of the weightiest and most thorough works of its kind – and has just become heavier still, with revisions that bring the story bang up to date (leastways until next May).

Co-authors Davidson and Schaffer are steeped in the event’s heritage and their accumulated knowledge shines from almost every syllable. They start from the original concept – early track plans reveal that an infield road circuit was planned from day one, although it wouldn’t materialise for another 90-odd years – and trace every detail of its subsequent evolution, a task they accomplish with great authority and insight. The photos complement the prose perfectly and confirm that there has seldom been a cooler human than Mario Andretti, circa 1970.

It’s yet another tome to savour in the company of a comfy chair and a bottle of malt (or possibly several, given the subject’s breadth). SA
Published by Icon,
ISBN 978-1-905334-82-7, £49.95 (£42.86 from autocourse.com)

Art of the Le Mans Race Car

30 Years of Speed, By Stuart Codling and James Mann

The legendary Le Mans 24 Hours has welcomed some of the most beautiful cars ever to power their way onto a racing circuit. This striking and wonderfully presented book proffers a selection of machines, from the first race in 1923 to the present day.

Chronologically, each car is given plenty of space and excellent, large format photos help illustrate why these machines continue to be well loved many years beyond their glory days in the French classic. Every car is photographed on an identical black background to give the book a stylish cohesion that is often lacking elsewhere. The text is brief but informative and contains quotes and comments from drivers and others close to the subjects.

The usual suspects are here – GT40, 917, 962 – but the whistling Rover-BRM and thunderous Cunningham C4R provide welcome and fresh diversions. DC
Published by Motorbooks,
ISBN 9780760344378, £40

The Wild Roads

The official book of the Peking to Paris 2013, By Philip Young and Gerard Brown

The current version of the Peking to Paris Rally has lost some of the pioneering spirit of the 1907 original, but in terms of visuals the modern age has the edge.

Only five entries took part in the inaugural run, but in 2013 100 cars set off from China. It’s all documented in this photo-heavy volume and the scenery is as impressive as the machinery.

The book conveys a real sense of community spirit – it is dedicated to the memory of Emma Wilkinson, who died in a road accident during the event – and features diary entries and testimonies from teams. It’s clear that making the finish wasn’t exactly a walk in the park: “The camp is strewn with broken cars, beaten up almost as much as the occupants…”

The price might be a bit high, but so is the content’s quality. ACH
Published by the Endurance Rally Association, £80 from www.endurorally.com

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