The motor sporting life of Barrie Williams
Anyone who’s either spectated or competed in British club racing over the past 40 years can’t help but know the name Barrie ‘Whizzo’ Williams. Whizzo was a moniker acquired by Williams when he was wrongly reported to be Welsh when either spectacularly crashing or impressively winning his early rallies. This is a highly personal account of his 50-year plus career, starting from humble beginnings rallying, sprinting and hillclimbing, through to the present day and his frantic historic race outings.
We all have our own favourite Whizzo memories, and mine is the sight of him four-wheel-drifting Nigel Corner’s lightweight E-type round Copse at the Coys Historic Festival in 1992. This book recalls those moments and more, by chronologically listing all his racing adventures around the globe. Interestingly, his often forgotten single-seater and rallying careers also get a decent amount of coverage here.
Obviously the main basis of his career and the book is in saloon cars through the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s. There are accounts from many friends, family and racing adversaries who recall some wonderful and warm stories. With partners in crime Gerry Marshall and Tony Lanfranchi, it’s no surprise most of these stories have a mischievous twist!
The one thing brought home by Motor Sport contributor Paul Lawrence’s book is that Whizzo has managed to have a hugely successful and entertaining life without a manager, or indeed any great career plan. And to anyone who has seen Whizzo sliding a car in his trademark exuberant style, it’s wonderful to know that he’s still as busy now as when he started out in the forests all those years ago. DC
Published by tfm, ISBN 978 1 903378 62 5, £20
The saga of British Racing Motors, Volume 3
Doug Nye with Tony Rudd
Taking about as long to appear as J D Salinger’s latest, the third of Nye’s BRM blockbusters matches the first two for authority, and covers 1963-69, the hugely successful years of the monocoque V8 cars. Doug worked so closely with Tony Rudd that he lists Rudd as co-author, so the sources are impeccable and the depth remarkable, whether it’s wind tunnel test results or Graham Hill’s tetchy letters to Alfred Owen. It’s a dense picture of a vast organisation laced with politics, working on many levels – engines for F1, Tasman, F2, sports cars, Cortinas, Ford rally cars, the 4WD Indy project, the mad Jumping Jeep… Results, chassis histories, photos and drawings abound. Apart from interviewing the cleaners there can be no detail left unrecorded. GC
Published by MRP, ISBN 978 1 899870 64 6, £80
Ferrari vs Maserati, epic clashes for supremacy
The rivalry of the two Modena marques was intense and long-running, until economic realities knocked Maserati out in the ’60s. Here every chapter pairs cars from each camp, placing the machinery centre-stage and offering much detail in photos and drawings to show how the technological lead – and sometimes staff and secrets – switched between teams. Generously illustrated, this is a comprehensive picture of both sports and F1 racing from a different angle. Naturally the OSCA element is integral, and there’s a coda on Maserati’s resurgence, ironically under Ferrari. Karl has known many of the people involved, and his huge bibliography indicates what a wealth of information is condensed into his book. GC
Published by Haynes, ISBN 978 1 84425 412 5, £30
While Lawrence and the Malvern minnow are inextricably linked, there’s more to the man’s story than the famous ‘62 Le Mans class win. A serial car designer, veteran driver and engine builder of note, Lawrence’s exploits are all here. His brief foray into F1 with the ‘colourful’ Pearce equipe – and its notorious demise – makes for amusing reading; less so the drawn-out saga behind the ill-starred Monica project. The breadth of his career is extraordinary, encompassing everything from twin-engined sprint cars to Bentley specials; Marcos endurance racers to historic Bugattis. Lawrence is hard on himself, not least his inadequacies as a businessman, but he apportions credit for his successes, too. It’s a hugely entertaining human interest story. RH
Published by Douglas Loveridge Publications, ISBN 978-1-900113-05-5, £30
To Finish First
My years inside Formula One, Can-Am and Indy 500
When Phil Kerr followed his boyhood friend Bruce McLaren over to England in 1959, it was the start of a journey that would lead him to the heart of Formula 1 during what many consider to be its golden era. Now Kiwi Kerr has given us his first-hand account of the best and the worst of times. During his years working for Jack Brabham and then for McLaren from 1968, Kerr befriended many drivers and leading figures before heading back to New Zealand in ’75, and it is his personal insight into the characters that brings his story to life.
We’ve read the blow-by-blow racing accounts before, but as ever it’s the anecdotal stuff that’s best, such as life at Brabham’s Surrey premises, sharing flats with Bruce, wheeling and dealing at McLaren, and the mad dash back to the ferry in a Rolls-Royce following Denny Hulme’s Swedish GP win in ’73.
Kerr tells his story in a ‘Boy’s Own’ style, emphasising how much of an adventure his life was. Given the dreadful mortality rate of racing drivers back then, there are of course many poignant moments, particularly the death of McLaren, of course. But it’s his enthusiasm for racing, plus a lovely collection of photographs and Michael Turner paintings, that will make a lasting impression. DS
Published by MRP, ISBN 978 1 899870 81 3, £29.95
Analysing Formula 1
Innovative insights into winners and winning in Grand Prix racing since 1950
Roger Smith’s book is a compilation of just about every graph you could dream up with regards to Formula 1. The fact that there have been only 88 Grand Prix winners in 58 years of racing was something I had never realised, but this is just one of the numerical facts that Smith drops nonchalantly into his text.
One of the main focuses is working out various drivers’ ‘strike rates’ – this takes into account not just Grand Prix victories, but how many races a driver competed in. To some, this may be a fair reflection of the real talent they possessed, with Fangio emerging with a remarkable 47 per cent strike rate compared to Schumacher’s 37 per cent and Räikkönen’s 12 per cent. However, Smith points out this doesn’t take into account the calibre of the machinery they had at their disposal.
This is definitely a book you’ll dip into rather than read cover to cover; the graph dedicated to the average duration of a Grand Prix in minutes over a season does tend to sap your concentration. By the way the longest was 3hrs 4mins in 1950 and the shortest 1hr 35mins in 2007.
Don’t be put off – this book is packed with interesting facts and some beautiful photos. A favourite has to be the two Renaults leading the field through the hotel car park, Las Vegas in 1982. EF
Published by Haynes, ISBN 978 1 84425 447 7, £30
The inside story of the little team that took on the giants of F1
The tale of a Formula 1 team that took 52 races to finish in the points and spent 21 years struggling at the back of the grid sounds as though it could be a depressing read. Indeed, as Vigar says in the first few pages, “Some ask ‘what went wrong?’ The real question is ‘what went right?’” A bleak start if ever there was one.
However, this year-by-year account of the Italian team is both interesting and endearing. Vigar, a self-confessed die-hard Minardi fan, charts the team’s 21-year history from Formula 2 to its first GP in 1985, its first point in ’88, the problems with Flavio Briatore before he took over and its predictable downfall.
This is an extremely well researched read and if you’re wondering why someone would spend so much time on such a book, just have a think about how many people have written literary works on the Scottish rugby team.
Well written and easy on the eye, this first book on the team is a must for Minardi’s hardcore fan base. And for others? Well, you might be pleasantly surprised. How many other teams can say that they survived while 24 others failed during their stint in Formula 1?
The story of Gian Carlo Minardi and his F1 team is certainly charming, even if they weren’t loved by everyone in the paddock… EF
Published by Veloce, ISBN 978 1 84584 160 7, £24.99