Reviews, March 2005

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Formula 2 Heroes DVD. 65mins www.tallandcurly.com £15.99

I approached this DVD compilation merely as a task, but it turned into a pleasure. The junior formulae have never grabbed me the way sportscars do, but the grainy, slightly faded opening scenes hooked me straight away with a nostalgia I shouldn’t feel for an era I never saw.

This DVD combines three wildly differing films on F2 and Formula Junior. David Roscoe’s opener, with excellent period music, takes us to 1960-64, when F2 called itself FJ, and begins with a moment of high camp — an overalled racing driver wheels a pram across shot with ‘Formula Junior’ emblazoned on the side.

If the editing is leisurely and the racing hardly knife-edge, it doesn’t matter — at this distance in time we are watching it for atmosphere, not results, and it has that in plenty. As well as Jim Clark and Trevor Taylor showing everyone the way in their Lotus 18s, we see the wide range of Junior machines, some still front-engined: Stanguellini, Gemini, even Caravelle. And the wonderfully clipped voice-over introduces us to the faces in the dusty paddocks — Arthur Mallock scowling in his U2, a cheery Geoff Duke, a thoughtful Surtees. There’s even some slow-motion race action, which would have been rare at the time.

Honda’s film of its 1966 F2 season is much more professional, and less involving. We flash from track to track as Brabham and Hulme blitz their rivals and the commentator hammers home this domination over even the likes of Clark.

Last of the trio is an arthouse offering by Ian Dawson, today one of Motor Sport’s photographers. It’s all about sensations: no voice-over, no story, just scenes and sounds from the ’71-72 season. Birdsong and waving grasses at an empty Brands slowly build to a busy paddock with overheard conversations, close-ups of rivets, David Purley buckling in… Think Steve McQueen’s Le Mans, even to the heartbeats at race-start, and you’re part way there. The race is accompanied by a drum solo!

A silent, blurry shoot of the last F2 race at Crystal Palace and some on-board modern F2 dicing wrap up 65 very entertaining minutes. — GC

***

Marathon de la Route, 1931-1971 by Jean-Paul Delsaux, ISBN 2 914920 42 3 Editions du Palmier, €38

The title may be a mouthful, but the story within — in French — is a cracker, the photos conjuring images of rallying’s less regimented days. The Liège-Rome-Liège was superceded by the Liège-Sofia-Liège in 1961, in order to satisfy the cravings for ‘wild’ roads, and latterly by the Nürburgring 82 Hours in 1965. Yes, 82 hours.

Following a year-by-year format, Delsaux’s book runs a short report plus an entry list and results table. What carries the publication is the cartoons alongside the earlier events and the photographs of the later runnings as the cars blast past horse carts, precipitous drops and even a gaggle of monks… The variety of machinery used in these events is staggering, from Bugattis pre-war to Renault Dauphines, giving it their all in the 1950s. — BSJ

***

The Rallying Imprezas by David Williams, ISBN 1 84425 093 8 Published by Haynes Publishing. £19.99

If there was a road car in which drivers lived out their dreams at the end of the 20th century, it was the Subaru Impreza. It was the result of a dull road car elevated in status on being turned into a competition car.

Over the past decade it’s hard to remember a time when there wasn’t a blue 555 Impreza in the thick of the action, and this book has 50 all-action shots of the model yumping, sliding and powering its way to its 49 wins and world titles for Colin McRae, Richard Burns and Petter Solberg, with the narrative covering every development that kept it at the front. This is all well and good, but it falls short in illustrating the characters who made it happen. For fans of quick B-road blasts in their beloved ‘Scoobies’, this might not matter, but to enthusiasts of motorsport history, it will. — BSJ

***

Autocourse 2004-2005 ISBN 1 903135 335 4 Published by Hazleton Publishing , £35

Few books have the presence of Autocourse. Beautifully produced, it has some notably stunning photography this year and continues as the annual collected by Formula One fans. However, this time it failed to hit the market until after Christmas, no doubt deeply disappointing many a fan. The quality of the paper on which it is printed is inferior this time around, too.

These failings aside, it’s that same old friend to which so many have become accustomed. Backing up the Ed’s driver Top 10 are a handful of articles plus a round-up of the world championship along with reviews of F3000, F3, sportscars, BTCC and the US scene, wrapped up by seven pages of results.

So, Autocourse readers still know what they’re getting — just not which side of Christmas. BSJ

***

Wheels — A Passion for Collecting Cars by Stuart Leuthner, ISBN 8109 5596 2 Published by Harry N Abrams Inc. £29.95

If you have any lefty, pinko tendencies, best look away now as an album celebrating wealthy collectors and their hoards may prove unpalatable. Even if you don’t, you won’t learn much anyway as the text isn’t all that illuminating. Strange spellings, too: Nürburgring as two words, Gil de Farran (?), but William Taylor’s photography is crisp and the design is easy to navigate. It’s also very considerate of the publishers to give us such a good idea of where these caches are located. Now there’s no need to case the joints. — RH

***

Formula 3 ‘The Screamer Era’ by Bernard Cowdrey, ISBN 1 870519 72 8 Published by Bookmarque. £39.99

Following on from Cowdrey’s (relatively) recent F5000 effort, this compendium of 1964-70 F3 car constructors features all the usual suspects — Brabham, Lotus, Cooper — but it’s the more esoteric stuff that really captivates.

Cowdrey’s inclusiveness stretches to the myriad East European marques including Drak, Delfin 65 and Hamal-Wartburg, plus several we had never heard of such as the Mustang-Wartburg (driven to fifth in the Czechoslovak Championship in ’64 by Vladimir Valenta — like you knew) and the Promot.

This is a fun book to dip into, and there are some wonderful images, although none are in colour. Repro could be better in places, too. Even so, kudos to John Rose and his tiny Bookmarque concern for championing minority interest subjects. — RH

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