None more brave
The inside story of TT legend Wal Handley
by John Handley
How did Wal Handley ‘only’ win four TTs at the Isle of Man? As this biography makes clear, no one was faster on two wheels during the 1920s and ’30s. Yet somehow bad luck — or more specifically mechanical failures — dogged his years on the island.
Handley’s nephew tells a tale that also takes in the fearsome Outer Circuit at Brooklands and the great European races from Monza to Assen. Murray Walker, whose TT-winning father Graham was a friend and rival of Handley’s, gives a first-hand account of the man he knew as a child.
That Handley survived in such deadly times, only to be killed as an airman in WWII, is a sad irony at the heart of a fascinating story.
DS Published by Aspect Design
ISBN 978 1 908832 13 9, £15
Motoring through the ages
1890s-1930s, 1940s, 1950s and 1960s
You can’t fully accommodate 70 years of innovation on four DVDs, but these do a passable job. Each volume lasts about two hours and contains a blend of documentarystyle footage plus some pithy, Pathe-style clips ripe with period commentary.
In terms of sporting content there are some engaging curios, not least the 1904 Vanderbilt Cup, 500cc F3 cars competing anti-clockwise at Brands Hatch in the Fifties, the first FIA European F2 Championship race (Snetterton 1967), sidecar ice speedway and street racing through a Moscow snowstorm. Not quite Motors TV…
The scripting is a little pedestrian where commentary has had to be added in more recent times, but there are compensatory charms. SA
www.auto-heritage.co.uk, £14.99 each (or 149.96 for the set)
The home of British motor racing
by Chas Parker
In all my visits to Silverstone I’ve never actually seen the farmhouse home of the BRDC — just one of the things I’ve realised from reading this year-by-year history of our most controversial circuit, the only one run by a not-for-profit organisation. (Amusingly, there’s a quote from Jack Sears saying that there were times that the farm made more money than the track…) Naturally Grands Prix predominate, but bullet points cover the huge range of other racing, not forgetting bikes, karts and trucks, while the legal tussles, financial crises and redevelopments are all aired in the comprehensive text. Memories from the likes of Coulthard, Stewart and Mansell add the drivers’ view, while unpublished photos from the BRDC archive enliven the mix, particularly in the early years. To emphasise Silverstone’s never-ending changes, a shot of Ascari washing his hands at a tap in the dusty paddock makes a vivid contrast to the new Wing. GC
Published by Haynes
ISBN 978 85733 072 7 £40
Triump of the Red Devil
The Irish Gordon Bennett Cup Race 1903
by Brendan Lynch
It’s 110 years since Britain’s first major motor race, the Gordon Bennett Cup, and Brendan Lynch’s book takes us minute by minute through that momentous day. Focusing on the eventual winner, ‘Red Devil’ CamilleJenatzy, Lynch paints a colourful picture of this enormous sporting event, run in Ireland due to differing laws across the water, with fascinating photos of cars, the dusty, rutted track, and spectators in their Edwardian costume. It’s hard to conceive how tough these early events were — the lap time was over an hour! — but press reports and Lynch’s words conjure up dramatic images of those pioneer heroes such as Jarrott and de Knyff battling dust, rain and endless punctures for international glory. Photo reproduction isn’t great — but where else will you see such interesting subjects? Lynch also suggests the expression “Gordon Bennett!” arose from rocketing hotel and catering costs — not quite as dramatic as the tale involving the fiancée and the fireplace… GC
Published by Portobello Publishing
ISBN 978 95136 681 3, £14.95