by Nigel Roebuck. 160 pp. 11″x 8 3/8″ Published by Garry Sparke & Associates, Australia. Distributed in the UK by Motor Racing Publications, Unit 6, The Pilton Estate, 46 Pitlake, Croydon, Surrey CRO 3RY. £15.95
When it comes to producing attractive and well printed books, the Australians can show everybody a thing or two. Of these, then, it is Garry Sparke & Associates who are foremost amongst them.
This is the latest edition which is the fifth in the series and it is well up to par with the rest. British journalist Nigel Roebuck has provided the words and British lensman John Townsend the photographs, and whilst the former provides an incisive and informative narrative to the 1989 season, it has to be the photographs and the way they are presented which are the reason for buying the book.
Nothing really new is learnt. The preliminary chapters deal with a seasonal review from the standpoint of the major teams, Alain Prost and the rigours of prequalifying, but the rest is a race-by-race resume. The book is nothing like as technical as Autocourse, but then it does not intend to be. Roebuck’s easy going style not given the space to go too far into detail. With all 160 pages being colour, the book is good value at £15.95 and shows what can be done when a publisher allows a designer to present the material in an attractive and imaginative way.
Of much appeal to those whose interest is with the older aeroplanes and racing cars is “Hawker — One of Aviation’s Greatest Names” by LK Blackmore. It is the biography of Harry Hawker, the determined Australian who became a great test pilot at Brooklands and elsewhere and raced Sunbeam and AC cars at the Brooklands Track. Much of the book’s authenticity derives from help given to the author by Hawker’s nephew Bob Chamberlain, the man who re-created the big Napier “Samson”, and because Blackmore has been able to quote from Mrs Hawker’s own book, published in 1922, which is now a very rare volume.
Lew Blackmore gives a fine period account of Hawker’s early life, his arrival in England looking for work, his test and racing flights, and his motor racing, culminating in his ill-fated trans-Atlantic attempt in the Sopwith Atlantic biplane. Hawker and his navigator came down halfway across, due to the R-R Eagle engine overheating. They were rescued by a ship without radio, resulting in HM King George V sending condolences to Mrs Muriel Hawker. After rescue they received a heroes’ welcome home. All this the book fascinatingly describes and illustrates. The account gains from the reproduction of columns from the 1919 edition of The Times and I am glad to see that the author gives the correct assumption for Hawker’s death in the crash, on a test flight at Hendon, of the 166 mph Nieuport Goshawk he was to fly in the 1921 Aerial Derby, backed by reproduction of the official accident report (which is printed in full) which for some reason was unavailable for 50 years. This dispells the idea that Hawker was taken ill in the air, as I was able to do in Aeroplane Monthly some time ago . . . .
Rare pictures add lustre to this book, including some of the fearsome motorcycles Hawker and his friends built and raced in Australia and two of the aero engined Mercedes which he built for himself and in which Muriel Hawker was rushed to London by her brother, Capt. Peaty (himself a Brooklands driver) to meet her husband after his disastrous ditching of the 350 hp Sunbeam in which Hawker went through the Railway-straight fence, the fully streamlined AC he raced, etc. A few minor errors have crept in here. Only those who have read Mrs Hawker’s book will find this new one at all repetitive — and quotes from her story evoke wonderful pictures of motoring long ago. Even in those days girls went out secretly with boys in motor cars, in Muriel’s case in Harry’s Gregoire, later used on their honeymoon with a gas-bag to dispell attention from the petrol-rationers, and in his fast 27/80 hp Austro-Daimler. Incidentally, there is a picture of the latter in a ditch at Brooklands and maybe the Brooklands Museum researchers can tell us exactly where it left the road, as I do not recall a bend at this place. . . The story of how Hawker met Muriel after she had run out of petrol in Richmond Park in 1915 and Hawker came to the rescue with his Gregoire is a fine “period piece” . . . .
So, a complete and excellent biography of a very famous pilot and racing motorist, which also outlines contemporary and subsequent Sopwith/Hawker company history. The Foreword was written by Sir Thomas Sopwith, CBE, just before he died, aged 101. Copies of the book are obtainable for 26 Australian dollars, plus postage, from Hawker Pacific Pty Ltd., 4-8 Harley Crescent, Condell Park, NSW 2200.
Shire Publications of Princes Risborough have now published some 30 motoring titles in their inexpensive “Shire Album” series. It includes one-make surveys, of which the latest is No. 244, “The Humber” by motoring encyclopedian Nick Georgano. It is a neat pocket history of the make for those who do not want to spend £14.95 on the recent full history of Humber from Alan Sutton. Priced at only £1.75, Shire have managed to include 51 pictures and a colour cover; the racing, military and Rootes Numbers are covered, down to the time when you could scarcely tell a Humber from a Hillman. Good value!
In Album No. 242 David Fletcher, the Tank Museum Librarian, deals with “Staff Cars” comprehensively, these military vehicles including Ford, Vauxhall, Sunbeam, Daimler, Rolls-Royce, Austin, Hillman, Trojan, Humber etc. Rare halftracks get a place, as well as staff cars of other countries. I thought the Fletcher accuracy had slipped when I saw that the A7 pictured is a GE Cup Model and not the Military Seven with provision for running tow-ropes round its hub-caps. But apparently one of these sports-bodied A7s was tried by the Army. As the author observes: . . . . it must have been a very popular vehicle to test.” The only slip seems to be saying the Trojan was driven by chains, whereas it had one duplex chain. Good value again, also priced at £1.75.
Of interest to French readers, Le Tour de Corse Automobile 1956-1986 by Maurice Louche is a magnificent tribute to the island event.
Consisting of 350 pages, the book is a comprehensive run down of the rally since its inauguration in 1956, although some preliminary photographs show Albert Guyot in a Bignan Sport competing in the 1921 Corsican GP. After a resumé of each year’s event, including an appendix covering 1987, 1988 and 1989, there is a 32 page colour section spanning these years. Priced in France at 450 F it is expensive, but for the hardened enthusiast, it is money well spent.