Book Reviews, July 1992, July 1992
A man called Mike, by Christopher Hilton. MRP, £16.95.
Mike Hailwood’s name first became engrained in my youthful conscience not because of the motorcycling feats which made him legend, but because he finished second to Frank Gardner in a round of the European F5000 Championship at Oulton Park in September 1971. I returned home to tell puzzled parents about how well Mike Hawthorn had driven. It took considerable maternal persuasion to convince a stubborn 10 year-old that he’d got his Mikes muddled… It was an incident of no particular significance, other than that it ensured that I’d follow Hailwood’s future career with especial interest from that day forth.
In this new biographical tribute, author Hilton has unearthed many fascinating personal recollections of this charismatic and popular sportsman, who ironically lost his life in a banal road accident, 18 months after a collarbone fracture at Donington Park finally marked the end of his active participation in ‘bike racing.
It is a compelling read.
In this industry, one often becomes blasé about motoring literature, such is the rate at which specialist books are published nowadays. Every so often, however, along comes something which makes you really regret human fallibility, such as the inability to stay awake when you don’t want to put a book down. This is in that category, a fine portrait of a fine man.
Ecurie Ecosse, by Graham Gauld. GGPR, £45.00.
Subtitled A Social History of Motor Racing from the Fifties to tile Nineties, this is a work of quite some endeavour which author Gauld a respected historian of all Scottish motor racing matters, whose previous works include an excellent biography of Jim Clark has published himself, via his own PR company.
Its A4 landscape format (turn Motor Sport on its side, multiply the thickness by a factor of six, and you’ll get the rough idea) appears cumbersome, and for a soft back the price is on the high side, but Gauld’s research reflects an important chapter of Britain’s motor racing heritage. Ecurie Ecosse, after all, was instrumental in the emergence as a racing driver of Jackie Stewart, and had several other feathers in its cap, notably victory in the 1956 Le Mans 24 Hours. Gauld’s affection and respect for his subject is quite plain, although typographical errors let it down.
MG Odyssey, by Ken McKimmie.
A 151-page soft-cover book, this should appeal to adventurous travellers and particularly to MG folk. It reminds me faintly of Richard Pape’s Cape Gold to Cope Hot published in 1956 (seeMotor Sport, December 1956), about driving from the North Cape in Norway across Africa, except that Pape used a carefully-prepared new Austin A90 whereas McKimmie crossed Australia in a 35-yearold Z-series MG Magnette, which had been raced previously.
The book is about this adventure. It introduces the reader to the Australian deserts and contains snapshots pictures of the author’s previous cars a 1950 Y-type MG, Oldsmobile, Triumph TR3A, as raced and his 1937 Morris 8 Tourer. It also has the luxury of eight colour plates of the journey the book describes, maps, a list of the 62 items of equipment carried (no weapons, as in Pape’s case!) and another list of the 20 main mods to the MG, which included an MG-B cylinder block, Austin 1800 camshaft and head, MG-B carburettors and a Datsun Stanza five-speed gearbox. The book is obtainable from McKimmie, 52 Boronia Street, Innaloo 6018, Perth, Western Australia for 20 Australian dollars sea mail, 30 Australian dollars air mail.