By Karl Ludvigsen ISBN 0-7509-2189-7
Published by Sutton Publishing, £19.99
This is a thoughtful work from motoring historian Karl Ludvigsen, less glossy than his biographies of Stewart and Fangio but no less interesting. It charts the development of the front-engined GP car from its birth in 1906 to its final victory, when Moss won at at Ouhon Park in 1961 in the Ferguson P99.
Most interestingly, Ludvigsen has gone in at a fundamental, mechanical level, explaining the state of the art of such items as cams, tappets and dampers through the eras. Each chapter covers a decade of racing and highlights a luminary of the time, be it a driver like Christian Lautenschlager or a constructor such as Ettore Bugatti. And each chapter comes complete with a contemporary report, usually plundered from the pages of Autocar, of one of the most significant or representative races of the era.
The result is a satisfying, if sprawling work, worth the money for anyone wanting a detailed overview of the early history of GP racing. The mechanical details do not always sit easily with such political analysis as “Why and How the Nazis Backed Grand Prix Racing” and the book can seem disjointed, but it’s an impressive work and good value too. AF