by Nigel Trow (Osprey, £19.50)
Although its title suggests a concern only with the track, Nigel Trow’s book actually embraces all official Lancia competition forays from early road-races, through the glorious but ultimately tragic early Fifties, and up to another disastrous end to a great era, Henri Toivonen’s death and the banning of the rally supercars.
Indeed, the text goes further back than the founding of the Lancia company in 1906, outlining Vincenzo Lancia’s racing career with Fiat, but it does not fall into the weary pattern of a purely chronological history. The first two lines of Chapter One make this clear ‘When Ascari crashed to his death at Monza in May 1955, Lancia gave up racing.” It is a powerful start to a strong text which augments its considerable technical and historical detail with well-argued discussion of the people and the politics which have attended the astonishingly wide range of Lancia race and rally successes.
Comprehensive illustration with photographs and diagrams makes this, the first complete competition history, an excellent single source which extends right up to the astonishing but still-born Delta ECV Group S car, and the Group A 4 x 4 currently flying the Lancia standard. But for me the best chapters were those dealing with the D50 Formula One cars, and the short-lived D-series sportscars. Fascinating. GC