Reviews, November 2009

1965: Jim Clark & Team Lotus
The UK Races
William Taylor & Peter Darley

1965 was a magical year for Lotus. Two F1 titles and Indianapolis were the pinnacles, but the Norfolk marque also collected the Tasman prize and two F2 series, while the fleet Cortinas tussled with the thundering Mustangs in saloon racing. By then photographer Peter Darley was effectively part of the team, with Chapman’s carte blanche to go anywhere and snap anything, compiling a portfolio which shows a race team at work and off duty.

This new collection focuses on all the home fixtures of that wonderful season from F1 to minor sports events, and while the golden boy Clark is centre-stage, the images also cover the works-supported teams, tyre crews, oil reps and mechanics. And it’s not just Lotus – a nice shot of three Honda mechanics having a fag in the paddock shows that Darley wasn’t partisan.

Every race is thoroughly described, but the whole-page grids and timetables slightly overwhelm the photos which surely ought to be the core of the book. Nevertheless there’s a wealth of paddock atmosphere from loading transporters to Rob Walker cradling a thoroughly British flask of tea. GC
Published by Coterie Press Ltd, ISBN 978 1 902351 36 0, £29.95

Ring of Fire
The inside Story of Valentino Rossi and MotoGP
Rick Broadbent

Ring of Fire is by no means a straight run through events since Valentino Rossi made his first appearance on a 500cc bike in 2000.

Broadbent’s take on this well-documented rider interweaves anecdotes and interviews featuring ‘Mike the Bike’ Hailwood and Giacomo Agostini with more recent racers such as Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa and even Bradley Smith.

This is more a celebration of bike racing than a biography or factual account, and the language and layout would be more at home in a novel. But that’s not a huge criticism – it makes the book not only very different but also very readable. EF
Published by Bantam Press, ISBN 978 0 593 06263 0, £12.99

The Earnhardts
A Biography
Gerry Souter

Written as a US student guide, The Earnhardts is informative and entertaining. Their history is entwined with that of NASCAR in an honest account, detailing the sport’s murky beginnings as a pastime for whiskey runners and the rise of drivers like Ralph Earnhardt in the deep south.

If you know little about the sport there’s plenty to soak up here; if you’re au fait with all things stock car you may feel frustrated that more space isn’t devoted to the Earnhardts. And while Dale Sr’s career is well covered, Dale Jr doesn’t warrant much of a mention. But perhaps that’s as it should be… GB
Published by Greenwood Publishing Group, ISBN 978 0 313 35840 1, £24.95

70 Years of Trailblazing
Bruce Lindsay

A lavish catalogue raisonné of a marque renowned for its engineering, telling the story through period brochures and literature. There are no modern shots of over-restored examples, and the result is a pleasing picture not only of a make but also of the way the sales pitch (and fashion!) has changed over the decades. But it excludes all the competition projects, so don’t go looking for D24s. There’s a lot of commercial vehicles here, though; they did make some very handsome lorries. Coachbuilt cars are included, as well as spec tables so you can remind yourself how many carbs a B20GT ought to have. The text is straightforward history, definitely secondary to the plentiful illustrations. Includes a DVD of brochure material. GC
Published by The Lindsay Family Trust, ISBN 978 0 646 51139 9, £75

Ben White with photography by Nigel Kinrade

A good overview of the most important NASCAR drivers past and present. Telling only parts of each driver’s history, however, it is more of an introduction than full-on reference book.
Published by MBI Publishing Company, ISBN 978 0 7603 3577 2, £12.99

John Force: The Straight Story of Drag Racing’s 300mph Superstar
Erik Arneson with photos from Jon Asher

Any biography of Force is going to be interesting and Arneson doesn’t disappoint with this effort. A great read.
Published by MBI Publishing Company, ISBN 978 0 7603 3566 6, £15.99

Lola: The Sports-Prototype & Can-Am Cars
John Starkey

An extremely comprehensive tome that lists and describes every Sport-Prototype Lola. Not for the faint-hearted, although a great reference book for anyone with a passion for Lola.
Published by Gryfon Publishers, ISBN 978 0 9818272 1 6, $99.99