Reviews, July 2017

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Rudolf Uhlenhaut

Father of the Mercedes 300SL

Wolfgang Scheller & Thomas Pollak

As architect of the Mercedes W125 and W154 Grand Prix racers, as well as the 300SL referenced in the title (and the two-off SLR coupés tested by Motor Sport in March 2014), Uhlenhaut needs little introduction here.

The publisher proclaims this to be the “first comprehensive” biography of the gifted Anglo-German, as fine a driver as he was an engineer, but in essence it feels more like an extended photographic essay. There are some interesting images, many previously unpublished, but while the story is well told the whole feels a little light for something that costs almost 70 quid

So, priced like a Mercedes, but perhaps closer in specification to a Hillman Minx. SA

Published by Dalton Watson

ISBN: 978-3-95843-150-8, £69

Barry Sheene

The Official Photographic Celebration

Rick Broadbent

There are other Sheene books on the market, but this is the first to include material culled from his family’s archive, so a great many of the images have not previously been seen.

The wait has been worthwhile, though. The photos span his career’s entirety and snaps of a young Sheene drip with period charm. Those from his later life – particularly shots of his participation at Goodwood Revival meetings – are a poignant reminder that he was taken far too soon, aged just 52. It seems barely plausible that 14 years have passed since.

There’s nothing in here that qualifies as fresh information – but that doesn’t stop it being fresh. SA

Published by Bloomsbury

ISBN: 978-1-4729-4458-0, £20

Jaguar XK120

The remarkable history of JWK 651

Chas Parker & Philip Porter

In this series Porter Press spotlights an individual car with historic interest but, rather than the weighty tomes of the Great Cars series, these are smaller, cheaper and in some ways more engaging. This time we learn about JWK 651, one of the six alloy-bodied XK120s that Jaguar prepared for competition in 1950. Although NUB 120 is undoubtedly the most famous of these, JWK – with the Mille Miglia, Le Mans and a Montlhéry 24-hour record on its CV – is a strong candidate, and its busy history from Leslie Johnstone’s days onwards is all here, amplified with sidebars on results and relevant people plus Jaguar’s spec sheet showing just how modified these cars were. It’s very readable and nicely presented, and if there seem to be a lot of recent shots of JWK at Goodwood, gems like a grainy shot of the car travelling to Le Mans in 1950 with race numbers and suitcase strapped on top are fine compensation. GC

Published by Porter Press

ISBN: 978-1-907085-56-7,  £30

How to Photograph Cars

James Mann

Tricky blighters, cars. You grab a photo and it’s only afterwards you realise there’s a tree growing out of the roof, or blazing sun on chrome has turned it into a flarepath. 

Mann’s manual leads you around such schoolboy errors and on to the practicalities of planning, framing and capturing your subject. I’ve seen a thousand car shoots, and yet seeing all the pitfalls and prep advice written down reminds me what a specialised area it is. 

Starting from equipment and basic techniques, Mann works through prepping a car for the shoot (even up the seats, move the mirrors, dump the sunglasses…), through details, statics and action, and on to groups of cars – which can be a nightmare of compositional manouevring. 

After covering extras such as clamp-on tripods he concludes with studio techniques and how to tackle a magazine shoot. Learn it all and your name could be in these pages. GC

Published by Autofocus

ISBN: 978-0-9956246-0-3, £19.99

Il Mago Mancini

Mancini, the Motorcycle Wizard

Jefferey Zani 

If you were tasked to name the brightest Italian MotoGP riders of recent memory, chances are Guido Mancini has mentored them.

This hour-long documentary tells his story, bringing together many of his protégés including Loris Capirossi, Valentino Rossi and Andrea Dovizioso. Persuading contemporary drivers and riders to appear in your film is no mean feat, but such has been Mancini’s impact on their fledgling careers that many obliged.

As for the unique little Mancini, he began as a test rider for a small manufacturer before riding competitively and creating his own bikes, which made him a reputation as one
of the country’s best.

That reputation brought bright young riders to his still-busy workshop to learn the basics, some to become the best in the world. 

You sense a real bond between him and his riders: Rossi – a banana thief, it transpires – calls Mancini a “mythological figure, teaching young riders how to ride”. Coming from the greatest of all time it’s some testimonial. The film is independent, which sometimes shows (the English subtitles, for example, are amusingly ungrammatical) but it’s a well told tale of a colourful bike racing character. JP

Distributed by Duke Video

https://shop.motorsportmagazine.com, £14.99

Road Racer

It’s In My Blood

Michael Dunlop

The Dunlop name is carved into motorcycle racing legend, and Michael was born into Irish road-racing royalty. First came uncle Joey, followed soon after by dad Robert. Older brother William came next and finally Michael made his way into the family wheeltracks. 

Joey raced his way to a record-breaking 26 wins on the legendary Isle of Man course along with 24 Ulster GPs plus many other victories and podiums around the globe. Joey’s younger brother Robert, also a multiple TT winner and road racing star, provided the inspiration for his sons William and Michael to follow their dad and uncle into the dangerous world of road racing.

That same danger is a constant presence throughout the book, as both Joey and Robert were killed in accidents at road-racing events. William and Michael were both in the same practice session that claimed their dad on the North West 200. Michael was one of the first on the scene of his dad’s accident and held his hand as he slipped away. Not that that stopped him and William racing (and winning) a few days later. Made of strong stuff, these Dunlops. 

His riding style has always been to race with his heart, and that has reaped reward by clocking up 13 TT wins since 2007. His strong emotions come out in this book time and again. Every word in this autobiography you feel has been said directly by Michael. It’s a book that delves deep into the heart and passion of someone who loves doing what they do best, even if it means occasionally coming face to face with the darkest side of the sport. The direct style of his delivery isn’t for everyone, but it does convey the character of a man who wants just one thing – to go road racing. DC

Published by Michael O’Mara

ISBN: 978-1-78243-779-6, £20

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