Reviews: Books, July 2006

Paramount Ranch remembered
by Art Evans. ISBN 0-9705073-7-2. Published by Photo Data Research. £22.99

Subtitled ‘a Scrapbook’, this cheerful assemblage relates the history of one of the first purpose-built US circuits, a hilly figure-8 near Santa Monica. Evans, already author of several books on Fifties sportscar racing and a competitor himself, has collated magazine and newspaper reports, recollections from people who raced there, including Dan Gurney and Bob Bondurant, programmes and advertisements (I want to visit “the Blarney Castle – where sportscars meet!”) to give a real flavour of the era. He adds notes on people and events to give the period context, while generous illustrations show some great specials like the ludicrous Fiat-Crosley. GC

Les Grands Prix de F1 a Charade
by Pascal Legrand. ISBN 0-9546767-2-6. Published by and available from Automobiles Historique Ltd. PO Box 28696, London N20 8XQ. £40

Charade saw only four grands prix, but on this dramatic track they couldn’t help but be memorable. Legrand’s book (in French only) focuses entirely on these events, with only a brief outline of the start of this tortuous mountain track, and a fascinating spread on filming Grand Prix there. Each race is analysed in context, with breakdown of teams, cars and drivers from Clark, described as dominating “outrageusement”, to Chris Amon’s blistering 1972 pole lap. Legrand also points out that only world champions won here – Clark, Rindt and Stewart (twice). Programmes and posters decorate the pages; shame we don’t see more of the lovely surroundings, though. GC

12 Hours of Sebring 1965
by Dave Friedman & Harry Hurst. ISBN 0-9754787-1-0. Available from
published by Hurst Communications Inc. US$39.95 plus shipping

Prolific sportscar snapper Friedman attended this race, as he explains in the preface, as the official photographer of the Shelby American squad. Good for us, then, that he was not too precious about shooting plenty of stuff on the other entrants in this race.

Sportcar racing was in one of its most charismatic, and therefore photogenic, periods in 1965, and this book majors on the images rather than the words. The latter take the form of captions, from the likes of Jim Hall (who co-drove the winning Chaparral with Hap Sharp), Dan Gurney, Roger Penske and the late Mark Donohue and Ken Miles. And Friedman himself. There’s some nice colour in the quotes, but you won’t be buying the book because of them; it’s the photos that count here. MS

Brooklands Giants
by Bill Boddy. ISBN 1-877338-71-0. Published by Haynes. £35

If there is anyone well qualified to write about monster-engined machines built for Brooklands, it’s our own WB. Now Haynes has conflated WB’s two books on these cars, both out of print, into one new volume which includes updated information on serial numbers and current owners. As one of the few people around who actually watched these leviathons bellowing round the Track in the Twenties, WB is uniquely placed to bring us the flavour not only of these rapid but often crude vehicles but also impressions of the brave men who built and raced them. With 10 litres as his minimum, WB provides a chapter apiece on Blitzen Benzes, ‘Vieux Charles III’, the Chittys and two dozen other monster motors, along with their later histories – some of which is only preserved thanks to WB’s own efforts. GC