From the cockpit
Certain contemporary Formula 1 stars would do well to discard awhile their mobile phones, switch off Snapchat and dip into this charmingly faithful facsimile of Bruce McLaren’s autobiography, first published in 1964 (late enough to accommodate a passage about the author’s victory in the New Zealand GP at Pukekohe on January 11).
The tale isn’t new, of course, but scarce original copies can fetch a sizeable premium, so Evro decided – 50 years on from McLaren’s first F1 car, ditto his victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours – to reproduce it down to the last semi-colon.
It’s a journey into a world that rewarded grit and application – McLaren, remember, spent a significant chunk of his youth in hospital with Perthes disease – rather than one in which
a select few have a path to the top laid out
Yes, McLaren was the first recipient of New Zealand’s Driver to Europe award, but that wasn’t quite the same thing as being a Red Bull development driver, a Mercedes-Benz junior or having Lawrence Stroll for a dad.
Even if you’ve read it in the past, it’s worth revisiting. SA
Published by Evro
ISBN: 978-1-910505-14-4, £19.99
The Definitive Biography Vol1, 1929-55
This chunky volume, presented the way books used to be, solid text with inserted photo sections, is a hefty 560 pages – and that’s only Vol1! So you know you’re not going to be short-changed on facts about the man Porter has no reserve about calling the greatest ever.
First, the photos: we see some great-looking racing books nowadays, not least from Porter’s own stable, so it’s disappointing these aren’t better, even given the smaller format. And some black and whites are colourised, which is surely not necessary.
However, we see plenty of Moss photos everywhere else; this is about the story, and a detailed one it is. It even takes us back to the Moses family of the 1830s before that ‘e’ was dropped, and works on year by year to that golden season of ’55 by when Moss is a household name. Drawing extensively on Moss’s own diaries and the words of Ken Gregory, Alf Francis and others it’s very thorough, even to listing the stars of the films Stirling watches. Yet it’s a little dispassionate, lacking Moss’s own presence even though Porter has interviewed him extensively. Maybe volume 2 will provide more insight to a great man. GC
Published by Porter Press
ISBN: 978-1-907085-33-8, £35
Lessons in strategy from Formula 1
Ross Brawn & Adam Parr
Those with memories of Adam Parr’s previous book – a head-scratching analysis of his time at Williams told in the style of a graphic novel – have been looking forward with some trepidation to his collaboration with one of the undisputed geniuses of Formula 1, Ross Brawn. Happily, the result is eccentric but brilliant in equal measures.
It takes the form of a series of interview sessions between the two men, discussing everything from the nitty-gritty of race tactics and drivers to the over-arching themes of personal motivation and life strategies, along with occasional detours into Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. The book’s subtitle is Lessons in Strategy from Formula 1 and it’s easy to see how some theories from within could be applied to other professions and indeed personal lives. Most interesting, however, given both authors have achieved such stellar success, is their insistence on analysing their failures more than their successes. JD
Published by Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 978-1-4711-6235-0, £20
His Dream, Drive & Destiny
Statuesque front cover pose, foreword by Tom Cruise: Jeff Gordon’s first authorised biography is the all-American story of the all-American hero who broke NASCAR’s mould.
It’s very thorough, from the child prodigy in a broken family to NASCAR legend, via mulleted teenager. Candid interviews with the Californian and his friends and family reveal the personal and very personable side of NASCAR’s grounded champion. It covers the bases, but is at times a bit brisk. A good read, though.
Garner portrays Gordon as the all-round nice (and very charitable) guy he is, but there’s no mention of that F1 test… JP
Published by Jeff Gordon Inc
ISBN: 978-1-60380-396-0, $39.95
To those of a certain age, the title conjures bizarre images of America’s most prolific team owner flirting with an unloved Austin hatchback – perhaps a Trans-Am project that escaped our attention back in the day.
The prosaic truth is that regular Motor Sport contributor Gordon Kirby is here cataloguing the life and times of Karl Kainhofer, possibly a fringe name for European enthusiasts but one of the pivotal figures in the rise and rise of Penske Racing. Born in Austria, Kainhofer worked with Penske as chief mechanic and engine builder for more than 30 years – he was in situ during the team’s brief F1 stint from late 1974 until the end of the ’76 season, and played a key role in many of the team’s Indycar and NASCAR successes – and remained there until taking retirement in the late 1990s.
For many of us in the trade, those behind the scenes – engineers and mechanics foremost among them – have often provided the richest seam of stories. Kainhofer has no shortage of those: this is a weighty, large format book that runs to more than 340 pages.
Thorough, in a word. SA
Published by Racemaker Press
ISBN: 978-1-935240-13-6, $89.95
René De Boer and Tim Upietz
Given what happened on the final lap, creating a book about the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans and focusing solely on Porsche must have been a tricky proposition. But René de Boer and Tim Upietz have made a valiant and successful attempt with Porsche Victory 2016, the sequel to last year’s book.
It’s likely most will forgo reading the actual text, which is in English, French and German, and simply flick through the photos. And of those there are many. They’re good, too, collating images from numerous sources to tell the story of Porsche’s Le Mans from every angle, even down to the often-overlooked GTE-Am cars. Toyota’s demise is finally relived from the Porsche point of view, with each interviewee inevitably clamouring to offer their condolences to the luckless Cologne-based Japanese team.
It’s a good celebratory memento for Porsche fans, and peeks behind the curtain to reveal the drivers and team members in fully concentrated race mode at Le Mans. It doesn’t tell the whole story, but it’s a worthwhile addition to a sports car fan’s bookshelf. JP
Published by Gruppe C Motorsport Verlag Books
ISBN: 978-3-9285-4085-8, £31.96