Reviews, November 1993

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Nigel Mansell’s IndyCar diary – Columbia Tristar, W H Smith, £10.99

These four videos are based on the late-night ITV Nigel Mansell’s lndyCar programmes, which in the beginning at least had a tendency to concentrate hysterically on “our Nige”; but the tapes include much other material, giving a better overview. Race photography is good, the pits-to-car radio conversations can be interesting, when they are comprehensible, and Mansell talks generously to the camera, including interviewing team-mate Andretti. But be ready to Fast Forward through seven or eight replays of his Phoenix shunt, and a long look at his X-rays. It takes four 90-minute tapes to cover the season, so it will cost you £44 to get the whole story, only from W H Smith. The 500 gets a whole tape to itself which includes some nice historic stuff including the Peugeot win in 1914 and some pre-war in-car footage.

Good though the race action is, Mansell fans will welcome the extras – special constable Mansell’s day out with the Clearwater police force (Vol 3), his long suffering autograph sessions in endless K-Mart supermarkets, and most revealingly in Vol 1 an interlude at Surfer’s Paradise where he swims with dolphins. He emerges babbling with an excitement we never see after a race and declares that it was far better than winning a Grand Prix. Hmmm . .

GC

Black Bess – The Story of an Edwardian Bugatti, by William Boddy. Aries Press, £29.95.

This 96-page monograph extends the Bugatti canon by relating the tale of just one Molsheim car, the 1913 chain-drive machine known as Black Bess. Its history has been well recorded since it was brought to Britain by Louis Coatalen after WWI, and WB details the known facts back to its original purchase by French aviator Roland Garros. WB is especially qualified to report on it, as it was he who rediscovered the neglected car in the 1930s, and he has known many of its owners. But despite Black Bess’s thorough chronicling, the origins of the five-litre ‘Garros’ cars remains obscure, to the point where the purpose, number built and even the type-number is doubtful.

Colour and mono photographs, drawings and facsimiles of letters from Col Giles, Bugatti and Garros illustrate the text, and David Sewell contributes a list of the seven known ‘Type 18’ cars, of which two (plus one resurrection) survive, though Boddy speculates on several more having being built. Thorough, but expensive at £29.95 plus £3.50 P&P from Aries Press, 2 Charles St, London WIX 7HA.

G C

Benjamins on the Beach

OUT IN time for Christmas, this is artist Arthur Benjamins’ latest quality colour print themed around the Land Speed Record. Entitled ‘One Hell of a Job’, it depicts Sir Malcolm Campbell achieving 272.108mph in the Rolls-Royce-engined Bluebird at Daytona Beach on February 22 1933, despite vicious wheelspin. Campbell described it as the harshest ride he had ever experienced and said that it was one hell of a job to keep the car on course, hence the title.

The print run will be limited to 500, and the size is approximately 24in by 19. Unsigned copies are £10.95 plus £2.25 postage in the UK. European postage is £3.25, worldwide £7.50. Prints signed and numbered by Benjamins are available for £29.95, at the same postage rates.

Cheques should be made payable to Blue Bird Publications and sent to 3 Treebourne Road, Biggin Hill, Westerham, Kent TN16 3QW. Benjamins can be contacted on 0959 574414.