by Scott Thomson. ISBN 1-877338-71-0. Available from www.steeleroberts.co,nz
Published by Steele Roberts, NZ $54.99
So, a book about Ron Roycroft… Yes, I said ‘who?’ But the foreword is by Chris Amon, who clearly rated this New Zealand driver who preceded him and who, like him, was arguably cheated by bad luck from deserved accolades. When Roycroft led the 1957 NZ Grand Prix it was the first signal that this distant country could raise talent to match the world.
Thouugh the book begins with Roycroft’s autobiography, that peters out after a page and a half; thereafter this hard-to-classify book becomes a story of three generations of racing Roycroft’s interwoven with the tale of early racing in NZ. Thanks to its isolation, motor racing there developed in a strange mixture of paths, but it’s interesting to see the wacky modifications to Bugattis which would today be reverently restored, the arrival of the Thomas Special and the ‘Dutch Clog’ A7 which Roycroft’s team brought over, the home-built midgets and the Ferrari which brought him pole at the ’57 race – not to mention the Nuvolari Alfa Tipo B which Roycroft Snr bought for £1250 when no-one else wanted it…
Rough and ready events and inventive specials abound in this illuminating, heavy softback, as much a portrait of national ingenuity as anything. Unexpectedly absorbing. GC