Books and DVDs

1 – Life on the Limit

Grand Prix racing has always had its darker side. While this excellent documentary doesn’t focus solely on the tragic, it is certainly a common theme. Overall, however, it goes towards telling the story of how the sport has evolved on every level, with safety now to the fore.

Fast editing and a brilliantly clever soundtrack give sharp relief to the vividly emotional scenes. Interviews with top names are numerous and well used, with even the sometimes difficult Mr Ecclestone contributing a few choice quotes. Self-congratulatory safety champion Max Mosley appears far too frequently for our liking, however…

Directors have previously struggled to commit to film the sights, sounds and emotions of why we love F1. Well, that is no longer the case. This is hands-down brilliant and will make you want to book tickets to the next British GP.

Be warned, though. It will cause even the toughest of you to reach for the Kleenex. It doesn’t just tug on the heart strings, but pretty much yanks them clean out and chucks them over the pit wall… DC

Produced by StudioCanal, £22.99

Return to Glory
The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Racing Car
Robert Ackerson

Think ‘Silver Arrows’ and 1930s Grand Prix behemoths spring to mind, or perhaps Moss and Fangio in mid-50s W196s and 300 SLRs. Such images surely explain why Mercedes-Benz’s exploits of 1952 are sometimes overlooked.

Nevertheless, just seven years after the end of WWII this single-season return with the futuristic 300 SL was hardly low key, in terms of either ambition or hard results. Victories at the Nürburgring, Le Mans and Mexico’s epic Carrera Panamericana gave the original gull-wing a very successful wins-to-starts ratio.

A tale worthy of a tome, then.

American author Ackerson tackles the genesis of the 300 SL and its single season in the spotlight using familiar driver autobiographies, contemporary magazine reports and, pictorially, Daimler Media’s extensive archive. Good sources, but it means there’s nothing new for those familiar with the history. Instead, this is a useful, albeit overpriced, introduction to a season overshadowed by events both before and afterwards. DS

Published by Veloce ISBN 978-1-845846-17-6, £75

Alpine Renault
The fabulous Berlinettes
Roy Smith

By definition, the fact you’re perusing Motor Sport means you ought to have a soft spot for the Alpine A110. It might not be a universal truth, but it should be.

People tend to go weak at the knees whenever the Lancia Stratos is mentioned, but has there ever been a more proportionally elegant rally car than the svelte A110 coupé – which was usually clothed in purest French racing blue?

There has been many a dedicated model history in the past, but this is the first to appear in English and contains a rich seam of photographs that the publisher claims to be previously unseen. In addition to a vast amount of detail about the A110, there is also a chapter about what Alpine did after winning the 1973 World Rally Championship – including construction of the first Renault F1 prototype, the turbocharged A500 pictured at rest during a low-key test in May 1976 (more than a year before its race debut).

Costly, yes, but there’s one hell of a lot of information in here. SA

Published by Veloce ISBN 978-1-845844-04-2, £75

American Wheel Man
Tom Madigan

It’s taken a long time for George Follmer’s story to make it into print and, like his route to the pinnacle of motor sport, this book isn’t quite what you’d expect.

Madigan presents a series of interviews in the order he conducted them, piecing together an image of Follmer, his life and the cars he drove that, while often repetitive, can be fascinating.

There was little room for romanticism in Follmer’s racing.

He drove for money first, satisfaction second: winning was a way to support his family and that pragmatism turned him into a relentless competitor.

That he went from club racing to F1 in a few short years speaks volumes for his talent, but it’s his adaptability that stands out. He was a genuine all-rounder, capable of beating anyone on his day.

Despite its repetition – and significant price – this welcome book contains a rare racing story that hasn’t been told enough. ACH

Published by Justice, $59.95 ISBN 978-0-9828999-2-2