On the 20th anniversary of his death, we have two new Ayrton Senna books to file on an already sagging shelf.
This one has the official blessing of McLaren, the team with whom Senna will always be most associated. Author Hamilton guides us through the familiar story with the surety we’d expect from a journalist who witnessed much of it first-hand. Chunks of first-person quotes help it along, particularly those from less familiar mechanics and engineers who lived the Senna story from the inside.
But in essence, the words are there to accompany a sumptuous photo collection. For hardened readers of this magazine, there’s little fresh ground. But for newcomers, and perhaps younger readers looking to find out more beyond the movie, the clean and easy format makes for an excellent introduction to the life of a captivating individual. DS
Published by Blink Publishing
ISBN 978-1-90582-587-5, £35
All his races
The second addition to the Senna canon comes via another seasoned journalist, offered by a new publishing house that might in time fill some of the void left by the closure of Haynes’ motor racing book division.
And credit where it’s due: as a first effort from Evro, this is an impressive statement of intent.
Tony Dodgins admits the format isn’t entirely original: Alan Henry previously adopted the same approach for the career of Stirling Moss. In this case, of course, the subject wasn’t available to steer the writer… but with this amount of detail and the many added extras Dodgins offers, that disadvantage becomes less important.
The race synopses begin with Senna’s first foray to Europe for the 1978 World Karting Championship at Le Mans, and goes from there to May 1, 1994. Great stuff, but it’s the features around the reports that really set this book apart.
Fresh, in-depth conversations with Terry Fullerton, Ralph Firman, Rick Morris, Dennis Rushen, Calvin Fish, Dick Bennetts and Martin Brundle – all key characters in Senna’s pre-F1 story – add fantastic detail.
This approach continues through the F1 years, with assorted pull-outs on key moments. The patchwork approach adds up to an impressively complete collage, making this a significant addition to the ever-growing Senna library. Pleasingly, the price is as ‘accessible’ as the format. DS
Published by Evro Publishing
ISBN 978-0-9928209-0-9, £40
The Life & Times of Bob Gerard
Graham Gauld et al
This co-authored work was much helped by family research, which is why it gives such a detailed picture of ‘Mr Bob’, well-known and popular racer of the 1950s and ’60s. Though he is long gone, period interviews give him a strong voice, and plenty of quotes convey something of the character of this gentleman competitor and motor trade entrepreneur, from finding his feet in trials through his familiar ERA and Cooper-Bristol adventures to becoming an F2 team entrant for such as Henri Pescarolo in the 1960s. An illuminating biography of a talented amateur and well organised entrant. GC
Published by Porter Press
ISBN 978-1-907083-15-4, £40
In essence this is a sumptuous photographic essay, but that’s too simple a label to do justice to one of the finest books – on any topic – that I’ve opened of late.
Author-cum-photographer Davison has been hooked on motorcycle road racing since the early 1970s and has written several books (his subjects including Joey Dunlop). The latest has relatively little text – thoughtful captions apart – but then words would largely be superfluous, such is the images’ impact.
Some are funny, others poignant, but most are just breathtaking. Many of the most eye-catching come from La Bañeza, Spain, host of a road race since 1954. It’s a bit less sanitised than F1’s nowdefunct Valencia street track… Spectators are separated from the action by a strip of plastic ribbon and, occasionally, a hay bale, while one shot shows a local pensioner sweeping the pavement, apparently oblivious to the adjacent heroics. One to add to the bucket list, that.
And it costs less than a modest round of drinks, a detail that serves to make it better still. SA
Published by Blackstaff
ISBN 978-0-85640-914-1, £17.99