Reviews, March 2015

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Jim Clark
Racing Hero
Graham Gauld

A tome of such heft befits only drivers of a particular stature – and Jim Clark fits that template. The author has penned previous Clark biographies, but nothing on this scale.

A close friend of his subject, Graham Gauld was there to witness Clark’s metamorphosis from promising club racer to global colossus – and committed much of it to film.

The photographs take greater priority than the words in this instance, images from Gauld’s own collection combining with those from various leading agencies (including LAT and McKlein) to produce a thorough overview of the great Scot’s career, from winning Grands Prix to throwing a punch at an over-officious Dutch policeman, driving a milk float, rallying and playing cricket.

A results appendix complements the bilingual text (in English and German). Such things aren’t essential in an age of instant digital access to almost everything, but it adds a sense of completion to a story rendered no less poignant by time’s passage.

Printed on high-quality paper, it is every bit as expensive as its lavish production values suggest, but it is also worth every penny. SA

Published by McKlein ISBN 978-3927458-75-8, €99.90

Paddock to Podium
Max Rutherford

Self-published books have a certain look and feel – and some seem to surface through vanity rather than because there is a worthwhile tale to tell. This is not of that ilk.

Kiwi Rutherford worked as a racing mechanic in Europe during the second half of the 1960s, an adventure that culminated in a stint with Ken Tyrrell’s Matra International in 1969, working on Jackie Stewart’s title-winning MS10. The Scot’s gratitude for his crew’s work is evident in his foreword.

Rutherford tells his tale in a sequence of bite-sized chunks, interspersing travel and racing anecdotes with press clippings, photographs, letters… and even a certificate from the Brands Hatch racing school, where instructor Tony Lanfranchi gave him an ‘A’ rating after a trial in a Lotus Elan.

First-hand accounts of life with such as Brabham and Tyrrell paint a vivid account of the period, but it’s the tales of road trips between continental races – living on prize money and cooking meals on a small stove at the roadside – that give this its charm.

Rutherford also pays tribute to the quality of Belgian chips – as much a fact of life in 1967, apparently, as it is now. SA

Published by Rutherford ISBN 978-0-47329680-3, £27.75

Autocourse 2014-2015
edited by Tony Dodgins

The growing archive of e-books is welcome and entirely necessary for a modern publishing business. But there’s something reassuring about a hard copy of Autocourse thumping on to your desk in this digital age. The annual, in its 64th year of publication, gives the lie to the rumour that print is dead.

As a record of fact, the publication boasts “detail and perspective that is unique to Autocourse”. We might argue with that, as you’d probably expect, but in single-volume book form the point is unarguable.

Editor Tony Dodgins and Motor Sport’s Grand Prix editor Mark Hughes are responsible for much of the F1 content, ably supported by such as Maurice Hamilton and Andrew Benson. Autocourse remains a bastion of consistent quality, and long may it remain so. DS

Published by Icon ISBN 978-1905334-97-1, £49.95

Grand Prix
The Killer Years
edited by John L Matthews

When Grand Prix: The Killer Years was shown on BBC Four in 2010 the reaction was mixed. On the one hand, this was clearly a story that needed to be told, but on the other it was seen to sensationalise the negative aspects of the sport without focusing on its many positives. This book of extended interviews from the documentary won’t do much to clear that whiff of didacticism, especially with a bunch of flames slapped on the cover.

But there are some illuminating comments. John Surtees taking Jackie Stewart to task on various subjects is a highlight – it seems JYS never thought about how guardrails could spell disaster for a motorcyclist – and Jacquéline Beltoise’s account of life in that era is interesting. With husband Jean-Pierre in F1 and brother François Cevert losing his life at Watkins Glen, her testimony gives the balanced view the original documentary perhaps should have had.

Unfortunately much of the book is riddled with errors and there are few revelations beyond those in the film. There’s enough to make it worth a look for beginners, but there’s not much you can’t find elsewhere. ACH

Published by Bigger Pictures ISBN 9781783015559, £19.99

1000Km di Monza
Aldo Zana

Subtitled ‘The Golden Years’, this huge and heavy volume focuses on the 1000Km sports car races held at the classic Monza circuit between 1965 and 2008 – years that featured major change not only in the organisation of endurance racing, but also in the cars. This is very obvious in the generous picture offerings here, as Sixties curves gain faltering aerodynamic addenda and evolve to the tunnel-honed but inelegant scoops and swirls of recent years. The text is in Italian only, but with complete starting grids and results for every race, and generous captions identifying each picture, this will still offer a great deal of information even if you don’t read Monza’s native language. If you do, each running of this tough event gets its detailed chapter, with inserts on a variety of subjects such as a super-streamlined Ferrari 512BB, or Alain de Cadenet, described as “the ultimate playboy…”

Rich in pictures (some rather dark), this is a valuable resource. GC

Published by Giorgio Nada, ISBN 978-88-7911-575-9, €60

Art of the Corvette
Randy Leffingwell

Sometimes, books about specific models can get a little bogged down in details. They go to great lengths discussing production numbers, engine specifications and dates of minor updates to the cigarette lighter position. Thankfully, this is not such a book.

The Corvette has lived among us since 1953, so has a few stories to tell. It endured a difficult birth to highly expectant GM parents, eager for their new arrival to take on the world from day one. It would, however, take several years and many cosmetic and mechanical changes before the car found its feet. Now, more than 60 years later, the latest Corvette continues to be every inch a barometer of all that is American. And in a good way.

This book charts the progress of each of the Corvettes, starting with the curvaceous C1 original and highlighting an example of each iteration through to the latest, aggressively styled C7. Unburdened by huge swathes of text or annoying ‘info-bursts’, the images are beautifully presented, without distractions, and really make the book feel of the highest quality. If you want something stuffed full of info, this isn’t for you.

But if you love Corvettes and wish to immerse yourself in stunning photography, this is absolutely perfect. DC

Published by Quarto ISBN 978-0-760346-40-2, £34