Shell History of Motor Racing

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Video: Volumes I, II, and III . (Duke Marketing, PO Box 46, Douglas, Isle of Man. 70, 53, and 55 minutes. £24 .95 each.)

What a delight to be able to enjoy such evocative film footage at home. The Shell films offer three full hours of constant action including more or less all the famous races, cars and drivers through half a century. Inevitably, each year is heavily condensed, but the overall picture is fascinating for anyone who has not seen film of the Edwardian heroes wrestling with their giant mounts over dirt roads, or Chassagne battling with the Deusenbergs at Le Mans.

There are two of the six films on each cassette, moving from Pioneers, with footage from as early as 1902, through the Golden Age, covering Indianapolis and the maturing European scene, and on to The Titans — glorious shots of Carracciola and Rosemeyer. Mercedes and Auto-Union with superchargers wailing, trouncing the rest of Europe. This section ends with a real treat — a peek over Hermann Lang’s shoulder as he threads his 1937 GP Mercedes around the Nurburgring during a nostalgic return to the track years later.

Alfa Romeo’s lovely Alfetta 159 dominates the coverage as it did the racing post-war, and the last cassette takes us up to the new World Championship, and then 1951 and Jaguar’s Le Mans glory.

£75 sounds a lot, but I am quite sure that those who buy will play and replay this collection; if forced to choose, take Volume II. The Titans — the perfect recipe for armchair time-travel. GC