Reviews, June 2009

Porsche 908 The Long Distance Runner
Jörg Thomas Födisch/Jost Neßhöver/Dieter Roßbach/Rainer Roßbach/Harold Schwarz

You could fill a library with Porsche books, but not so many focus on the 908, especially in English. This covers the model in detail, explaining the car’s technology and augmenting the racing history (with full results) with personal accounts from drivers and other figures involved.

The 908 is often overlooked in favour of its bigger, more powerful brother the 917. But its history is as colourful as any sports car, so it’s surprising that it has taken so long for someone to publish such a detailed book on it. Thankfully, The Long Distance Runner (sic) is no half-hearted effort.

Unlike many tomes on a single car model the text, written by a team of experts, is very readable and well researched. It is accompanied by plenty of images, many being published for the first time.

As well as the story behind the car, there’s a section at the back of the book on the drivers who got behind the wheel of a 908, and even a piece on the VW-Porsche 914/8 – the scary road car packing the 908’s flat-eight engine which the company built for Ferry Porsche’s 60th birthday.

If you’re a Porsche 908 fan you’ll be hard pressed to find a better book on the subject, even if you do speak German. EF
Published by Veloce, ISBN 978 1 84584 201 7, £40

Can-Am The Speed Odyssey
Narration by Sam Posey and Jim Hall

I wish I’d seen this before I wrote my Autocoast Ti22 piece in April – it includes terrifying footage of Jackie Oliver’s backflip in the titanium car over the crest at St Jovite. But what a treat, and what an era. This film begins in the Group 7 days before Can-Am and carries us to 1973 when the Porsche 917/30 steamrollered the series into decline. On the way your ears will throb to the soundtrack of 30 V8s (plus the shrill racket of the Chaparral 2J’s fans) barking round circuits draped between trees, desert and mountains, with damn all in the way of safety features.

Watch Porsche 917 and Ferrari 512M mixing with McLarens and Lolas, and Chaparrals testing on Rattlesnake raceway. There’s some great aerial footage of Mosport and St Jovite, whose spectator-carpeted hill slopes make Brands South Bank look like a garden rockery.

Narration is by two of the main players – Jim Hall and Sam Posey. It makes you do a double-take when the commentator says “oh, and that’s me spinning off on the inside!”. Even the intro and outro are fun – on-board film from a Cobra on a winding road to compelling driver’s-eye laps of an empty track. Terrific from start to finish. GC
Ardennes Productions,, £22.99

Senna vs Prost
The story of the most deadly rivalry in Formula One
Malcolm Folley

It’s a story we’ve all revisited many times, and this won’t be the last word on the subject, we’re sure. But there’s good reason for that when it comes to Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna.

So what marks this book out from the rest? Well, the author’s claim to tackle such familiar ground more than stands up. Folley has covered a lot of GPs during his 33 years on national newspapers and in his role as chief sports reporter of the Mail on Sunday. He knew Prost and Senna during their F1 careers, and draws on his experience by using period interviews, both his own and credited others. But this is no archive rehash. He has conducted fresh interviews with key players, including Prost, and that gives the work true authority.

The writing is excellent, which is no surprise coming from this seasoned journalist. The narrative is intelligent, beginning with a taste of his meeting with Prost, switching to events leading to Imola ’94, then flitting between Prost and Senna’s individual tales until they converge in ’88.

Have we heard it all before? Perhaps. But a familiar story is still worth telling if done well. In this case, it’s mission accomplished. DS
Published by Century, ISBN 978 1 8460 5540 9, £18.99

BTCC: The first 50 years

A must-have for any British touring car fan. Over two hours of film is filled with interviews, plenty of race footage and the story behind the series. And that’s before you’ve even looked at the DVD extras.
Hayfisher Productions,, £19.99

The Jaguar’s Roar: The Story of the 1988 Le Mans 24 Hours

Interesting account of Jaguar’s ’88 campaign. The film covers the background to the project, but could do with more archive footage and less repetition of shots.
Definition Media Ltd,, £18

Ferrari: 25 Years of calendar images

Günther Raupp Collectors of Ferrari calendars may not find much new here, but for everyone else there are some stunning images, from 212 Export Vignale to GTB Fiorano.
teNeues Publishing Group, ISBN 978 3 8327 9283 1, £64.50