Book reviews, March 2012, March 2012

Team Lotus
My view from the pit wall
by Peter Warr

There is nothing that could be described as ‘run of the mill’ about this autobiography. For one thing, it is published posthumously, its writer leaving it unfinished upon his unexpected death in October 2010. For another, it actually says little about the life of the man it is about, and more about the people he knew. And one more thing: it’s written by Peter Warr, the Lotus team manager – so it’s full of spikey opinion and is gloriously subjective. A terrific recipe.

We have Warr’s son, Andrew, and Motor Sport’s own Simon Taylor to thank for bringing this book to publication. Back in 2008 Simon spent two wonderful days at Warr’s home in south-west France to interview him for one of our popular ‘Lunch with…’ stories, collating more material than we could ever hope to print. It would come in useful when publisher Haynes and the Warr family asked him to pick up the project after Peter’s death.

Biographical facts and useful context have been woven in and around Peter’s five chapters on Colin Chapman, racing mechanics, drivers, engineers and Bernie Ecclestone. It’s never less than fascinating. On the drivers, he eulogises about Jochen Rindt, Ronnie Peterson and Ayrton Senna, is cool in his enthusiasm for Emerson Fittipaldi – and shows total disdain for Nigel Mansell. His loathing for the man who “threw away two world championships for Williams” is wince-inducing.

Three more chapters were left unwritten when Warr died, one of them on the F1 journalists he liked – and those he didn’t. A shame we’ll never read that one! DS

Published by Haynes Publishing, ISBN 978 0 85733 123 6, £19.99

Shelby Cobra
Fifty Years
by Colin Comer

Amazing to think it’s a full 50 years since a young racer called Carroll Shelby first had the bright idea of dropping a big Ford V8 into a tiny, lightweight sports car, the AC Ace. And still the Shelby corporation are turning out handmade cars in the spirit of what was conceived all that time ago.

The author, Colin Comer, is clearly a hardcore Shelby enthusiast who not only writes with a passion, he even used the money he’d saved for a house to buy his first Cobra, having never even driven one before!

There are a huge amount of Shelby and Cobra books already on the market, but what sets this apart is the terrific quality of images that make up the majority of the book. This is really only going to appeal to lovers of the Anglo-American legend, but nonetheless, is a very attractive way of showing the genesis of the early race-cars, through to today’s ‘continuation’ cars. DC

Published by Motorbooks International, ISBN 978 0 7603 4029 5, £26.99

100 Years of the British Automobile Racing Club
by Gareth Rogers

The history of the British Automobile Racing Club is a colourful one.

From its humble beginnings back in December 1912 in the Sussex countryside to its current state as an international race organiser, the BARC is worthy of a book such as this. Too often organising clubs are overlooked in favour of books on little-known racing drivers and long-forgotten cars.

Rogers does a good job of making the informative text interesting, and, with its blend of some great images and quotes, the 170-page work is a fitting tribute to the club that helps run the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

If you happen to be a professional or amateur racer this book should be next on your ‘must read’ pile because it’s more than likely that you will have competed in a race it has organised, and perhaps you’ve even needed its marshals’ help to get your car out of the gravel trap. I know I have. EF

Published by The History Press, ISBN 978 0 7524 6180 9, £25

The definitive story of the Jaguar Le Mans car and the V12 engine that powered it
by Peter D Wilson

This whopping volume has to be the last word on the curvaceous cat that never raced. Written by one of the men who built the car, it’s the inside tale of the V12 that was meant to win Le Mans in 1965, but having roundly missed its deadline became something of a problem child, hidden away and only driven in public in 1973.

Backed by a wealth, even a surfeit, of information – spec sheets, memos, sketches – Wilson explains the design and build, and how its completion chimed with the run-down of the competition department, despite talk of a 3-litre Le Mans racer for 1968. The crash and rebuild are well covered, as are replicas and models. Fascinating to learn that in ’64 Jaguar tried to buy Lotus, using the as yet unbuilt V12 race engine as bait – for a Lotus Indy entry! GC

Published by PJ Publishing Ltd, ISBN 978 0 9566857 1 1, £75