Reviews, May 2009

The Brothers RodrIguez
Carlos Eduardo Jalife-Villalon

We had to measure it: 56mm thick. Yes, as chunky racing books go this is a monster. And given that the author began work on it in 1992, it’s clearly his life’s work.

This sumptuous heavyweight was first published in Spanish and fans of the Rodríguez brothers will be delighted that the English version has arrived. The story, of course, is one of the most fascinating and tragic in racing history. Pedro and the younger Ricardo enjoyed a privileged upbringing in Mexico and benefited from unflinching support from their father when the racing bug bit. Both were enormously talented, but shared terrible fates: Ricardo died at his home Grand Prix in 1962, Pedro nine years later at the Norisring. They are revered as national heroes.

Over 4000 photographs have been sourced – many from the family archives – to illustrate what has to be the definitive Rodríguez biography. The detail does the author’s research skills great credit, although he is close to the subject: his father organised the airport reception when Pedro’s body was brought home.

Quantity does not always mean quality with so many photos, and perhaps some editing would have been wise. But you can’t help being impressed by the sheer scale. Just be prepared to re-mortgage to cover the postage and packing costs. DS
Published by David Bull Publishing, ISBN 978 1 893618 89 3, £99.99

Lola The First 50 Years
Produced by BHP Limited/Lola

Lola wasn’t shy when it came to celebrating its 50th anniversary, and why should it be? Watching this DVD reminds you just what a successful and sometimes turbulent time this most British of British companies has had in the last half century.

Bizarrely and quite brilliantly narrated by Stephen Fry, the story takes you from Lola’s beginnings with the MkI – which company founder Eric Broadley took to Brands Hatch for the 1958 Easter Monday meeting, soundly beating the likes of Graham Hill to pole and the opening race win – to Le Mans 2008, where the company had an unprecedented seven cars on the grid.

The story is bolstered by input from the likes of John Surtees, Jackie Stewart, Mark Blundell, A J Foyt, Damon Hill, Mario Andretti, Ross Brawn and Sébastien Bourdais, to name but a few. Every aspect of Lola’s history is visited, including its success in America in F5000, CART, and of course Graham Hill’s famous Indy 500 win. What’s more, the story touches on Lola’s current work for the defence and aerospace industries.

The highlight for me was Eric Broadley very openly explaining what went so wrong back in the 1990s and why. There’s also plenty of great archive footage, meaning this is a DVD not to be missed whether you’re a fan of Lola or not. EF, £14.99

Motorfilms Quarterly Volume Twenty-Two

The latest addition to the Motorfilms Quarterly library contains the usual great footage from the archives, but also some film from just over a decade ago.

The second part in a celebration of the Triumph marque features colour footage of its exploits at Le Mans and on the rally stages, while Part Two of The Club 57 includes black and white film from the British Racing and Sports Car Club.

The highlight is some 1930s footage of breathtaking sideways action from Monaco, and some wonderful overhead shots taken from an aeroplane of the Ulster TT. Although this 80-year-old film isn’t of the highest quality, it’s a novel viewpoint on 1930s racing.

Anyone who remembers the 1998 Sussex Trophy will recall the excitement of a certain Robert Brooks Esq chasing down the field in his damaged Lotus. Watching it on screen for the first time makes it clear just why the Goodwood Revival has become such a success. To finish there’s some interesting colour footage of the BRSCC’s 1962 season from David Roscoe, and as a ‘slowing down lap’. Mike Hawthorn’s 1953 Ferrari 375 travelling back down the Goodwood hill.

As aways, a fascinatingly unpredictable compilation. EF
David Weguelin Productions 2009,, £19.99

Daytona 24 Hours: The Definitive History of America’s Great Endurance Race
J J O’Malley

Large and weighty compilation updated to include the last few years of racing at Daytona. More a reference book than a sit-down read, but very thorough with comprehensive tables.
Published by David Bull Publishing, ISBN 978 1 935007 00 5, £74.99

Castrol Classics: The Greatest Castrol Rally Collection 1968-1984
BP Video Library

A great selection of original footage – and sometimes hysterical commentary – from the rallying scene. Aficionados can just sit back and enjoy endless opposite-lock drifts, but those unfamiliar with the stars and cars may struggle to identify what’s on screen., £19.99