Reviews, July 2011

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Ultimate E-Types
By Philip Porter

This E-type anniversary year is the right time to produce the ultimate book about the ultimate E-type, and I can’t imagine anyone surpassing this. The dozen factory Lightweights (not forgetting the two official ‘semis’) are now greatly outnumbered by lookalikes, offen with even higher performance, which makes recording the proper histories all the more important.

Porter’s knowledge of Jaguar archives brings out a wealth of documentary support such astesting notes from ‘Wilkie’ Wilkinson, letters from Briggs Cunningham, and drawings of how El A and E2A morphed into the E-type, along with information from 200 interviewees. Detailed individual histories are prefaced by the historical context essentially, how to beat them pesky Ferraris with a production sports car and followed by an assessment of what Jaguar achieved before accepting that it couldn’t compete among the sports-prototypes.

Generously illustrated and packed with facts about these elegant racers, the book reveals much about what was going on at the factory at the time as the Coventry and Maranello marques leapfrogged each other’s latest machines for example, that Jaguar planned 100 CUT 7-style low-drag coupes for GT racing. Weighty and expensive (and a signed Deluxe edition clad in goatskin is £450), but a unique and trustworthy source. GC
Published by Porter Press International, ISBN 978 1 907085 07 9, £95

*

24 Heures au mans 1923-2010
By Philippe Joubin

We do our best to dig for unpublished motor racing photographs, but there must be thousands yet unseen.

This book exploits some of these, from the deep archives of the French sporting newspaper L’Equipe and its predecessor L’Auto, which has photographed every Le Mans since it began. The result is a compact but rich record which concentrates on striking shots more than winners a Lorraine slashing through mud, officials playing cards by the track, wreaths left after 1955, campers in the woods, spectators on roof-tops, a forest of cardboard periscopes above the packed crowd.

Some significant races get a description (Joubin is a chief reporter on L’Equipe), but mainly this is a book of pictorial indulgence. It only switches to colour in the 1980s but is it me or is the monochrome coverage simply more atmospheric? In French only, with preface by Henri Pescarolo. GC
Published by Editions L’Equipe, 26 Euros

*

The Remuera Racer
A tribute to Bruce McLaren

A film of two parts, this. The first details the life of Bruce McLaren (including his childhood battle against Perthes disease, which left him with a slight limp) with contributions from younger sister Jan, Sir Jack Brabham and Chris Amon among others. We then move on to events at the 2010 New Zealand Festival of Motor Sport, dedicated to the great Kiwi driver and engineer and featuring a number of his cars.

As a whole the DVD largely works, though a segment on touring cars feels a little disjointed and the background music is at times distracting. But there’s some nice footage from the festival, as well as of Bruce’s racing career. The contributions are varied and poignant, especially in the case of Brabham who retired from racing soon after McLaren’s death while testing one of his own Can-Am cars at Goodwood in 1970. It’s a worthy tribute and one that McLaren fans should enjoy. GR
Thunderclap Media, www.throughthegears.net, AUS$35

*

Chequered Justice
By John Bartlett

This book, inspired by true events, is a novel about sports car racing, a terrible back injury and the actions of insurance companies faced with such a dilemma in the middle of Thatcher’s recession.

“I am not permitted to publish my full and factual account of the proceedings,” says ex-sports car racer John Bartlett before the story starts. “But I am allowed to write a novel or fiction based on them.., what follows, therefore, is a novel based purely on personal experience.” Even without these words the book would be a great read for any sports car fan the racing scenes are explained in wonderful detail, as are the legal proceedings but with this knowledge… Well, it’s shocking, eye-opening and makes for addictive reading.

The book’s very well written especially for a racing driver! and should be devoured in a matter of days by any racing fan. Highly recommended. EF
Published by The Book Guild Publishing Ltd, ISBN 978 1 84624 524 4, £17.99

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