Book Reviews, May 1991, May 1991

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Stage by Stage by Russell Brookes. 160 pp. 11″ x 8-1/4″. Motor Racing Publications Ltd, Unit 6, Pilton Estate, 46, Pitlake, Croydon, CRO 3RY £16.95.

We have had books about the racing careers of almost all the present-day and post-war F1 drivers, others about great racing drivers of the past, yet others by team managers and on the Marathon, etc, but not many about the flourishing pursuit of rallying. So I was pleased to see this excellent coverage of Russell Brookes’ rallying memories, in the compiling of which he was helped by journalist Neil Perkins. The magazine-size pages enable justice to be done to the pictures, and that colour is sometimes adjacent to black and white photographs matters hardly at all. The colour plates are excellent and you get pace-notes, prize presentations, action shots galore, personalities, and the cars, all calculated to inspire newcomers to rallying.

Brookes’ rallying career runs from Minis in 1969, through Ford Escorts of various sorts, to Talbot-Sunbeam Lotus, Vauxhall Chevette HSR, Opel Manta 400, Astras and in more recent times, Ford Sierra Cosworths, culminating in his winning the RAC Rally Championship year after year, from 1974, the European Rally Championship likewise, and other championships along the way. His achievements up to 1990 are detailed in a five-page Appendix, and to whet the reader’s appetite, the chapters cover the early ventures, finding the ways and means, preparing his own rally cars, tyres and test sessions, on to sponsorship and success, with an idea of how tough it is at the top, the good and the bad rally cars, Russell’s memories, and a look at the future of rallying. I am sure you are going to like this one; the illustrations alone cover a wide spectrum of rallying and are very well reproduced. Good show, Russell Brookes! — WB

***

Motor Car Museum Schlumpf Collection, Mulhouse, France by Jacquest Rousseau, Jean-Claude Delerm and Patrick Gamier. English version translated and edited by David Waldron. 319pp. 13″ x 10″. Published by Editions d’Art, JP Barthelemy, Besançon, France. Distributed in the UK by Menoshire Limited. £99.00

This magnificently produced book, printed in Switzerland, has become the official catalogue of the Schlumpf Museum in France. Every single car is illustrated and described in some detail with accompanying text, attractively laid out page after page. In a book of this nature, there are hardly any relevations, but as a browsing tome it is unbeatable, but at £99, it cannot be denied that it is an expensive browse. Since the print run is being limited to 2000 copies, which are individually numbered, this book is really being aimed at the connoisseur of fine books. –WPK

***

There have been legions of books about Volkswagens, from the Beetle onwards. VW Power and Style by Ian Kuah, an MRP publication, address above, priced at £19.95, is about the Golf GTi, Scirocco, Jetta and Corrado from the aspect of conversion specialists and performance car enthusiasts who know how to make these VWs go faster. Lots of clear pictures, lots of data, in 192 10in x 7-1/4in pages, sums up this useful work. — WB

***

With Hindsight

by Charles Mortimer. 143pp. 10″ x 7.4″. Richard Netherwood Ltd, Fulstone Barn, New Mill. Huddersfield, HD7 7DL. £13.95.

The sub-title of this very readable book is A Lifetime in Harmony with Cars, Bikes and Motorsport and it is just that, being recollections by Charles Mortimer of his life of dealing, racing, motorbook buying and selling, running a motorcycle racing school, authorship, etc, starting with boyhood memories of his very inexpensive bikes and of getting to know cars through those of his family and the chauffeurs. As an author Charles has to his credit Brooklands And Beyond, Motoring Afloat, Brooklands: Behind The Scenes and The Constant Search, the last about motorbook collecting. Some of his many splendid anecdotes were included in these earlier works, although Mortimer has somehow managed to keep the text of this latest book fresh.

It covers all aspects of his long, still active, and very busy life, apart from his spell as an amateur yachtsman. There is much emphasis on Brooklands, where Charles Mortimer was one of the regular habitués, with his own shed. Starting with the last belt-driven motorcycle to race at BMCRC Meetings, he rode many makes of machines and drove many different kinds of cars there, and after the Track closed down for good, he raced at other venues. All this comes over very enjoyably, as DSJ emphasizes in the Foreword, saying that he felt he was reading his own biography, except that that he has never been able to sell anything for a profit and is reluctant to buy anything, even of himself. Whereas Charles’s first love, after racing, is dealing.

The many and diverse cars he has owned make a sort of entertaining extension of the “Cars I Have Owned” article he contributed to Motor Sport many years ago; I note he seems to have overcome his dislike of Rolls-Royces as cars in which he was invariably late for appointments! As one who can never have too much about Brooklands, I was avid to read this book and found it very hard to put down; and that’s not because I opened it at a time when heavy Welsh rain was falling and heavy tractors and trucks were resurfacing the drive, thus trapping my Ford.

Clearly Jenks enjoyed it just as much and so, I think, will you. With the increase in motorbook buying there are interesting references to Mortimer’s association with Eoin Young and Eric Thompson. But chiefly it is Mortimer’s fund of anecdotes about the unique personalities he has met, especially at that ever-fascinating place, Brooklands Track, which make Hindsight such fun. Most of the pictures have appeared in the author’s earlier books but are in a bigger format. A few errors have crept in, making my editorial finger itch, such as the almost inevitable ‘p’ in Thomson of T & Ts, and there is no index. But the memories run well and could only come from a real enthusiast and a true lover of Brooklands. I was, though, sorry to see in the final paragraph a reference to a letter in Motor Sport saying how dull and awful Brooklands was. I do not recall it, so perhaps Charles has confused us with another journal? If not, I am sure he will tell me where to look and I would be surprised if we let such a letter into print without adding a strong footnote. — WB