Book reviews, November 2016, November 2016

Damon Hill – Watching the Wheels, An Autobiography

John Lennon’s posthumously released song Watching the Wheels was his way of describing the world’s failure to comprehend how one of the most famous people on the planet could, just for one day, step out of the limelight and ‘watch the wheels’ of life spin around him. 

Music was always a huge part of the Damon Hill story, so the book title is no surprise. What is surprising is how apt it now seems with the knowledge of his struggles to come to terms with his own demons and life beyond F1’s glare.

Much of the book concerns the little talked about subject of mental health problems, together with the inevitable troubles of coming to terms with an absent father, the hugely charismatic Graham, who died when Damon was just 15 years old. 

Motorbikes were a shared passion for father and son, so a young Damon made his name on two wheels before a John Webb marketing brainwave saw him make his four-wheel debut long after younger chargers. From then on, Damon knew he had to work twice as hard to catch up. The book brilliantly conveys the constant struggle to step out of the long shadow of his dad, and deals with Damon’s never-ending doubts – which only seem to subside when that dream Williams drive delivers him the world championship. But then began an even more difficult journey, once Williams discarded its title winner and left Damon in the wilderness with Arrows, then Jordan, yet unable to leave F1 because of contract obligations.

In his racing career he was often portrayed as uneasy with his stardom, but as this book displays in its unblinking way, he carries the same doubts and worries that we all have in our lives. Rarely has a much admired sports person been quite as honest as Damon in the superficial world of the celebrity autobiography, so this is to be welcomed. Quite simply, this is a fascinating and a brilliant read. DC

Published by Pan MacMillan

ISBN: 978-1-5098-3190-6, £20

Tasman Series Memoirs 1968-1971

Bill Pottinger

If Bill’s name rings a bell with Motor Sport readers, so it should. His Tasman Series shots have featured previously in You Were There – and he has now decided to create a book from his extensive archive.

The subjects drip with charisma, which might have given Pottinger a head start, but that’s only part of the tale. His eye for a photograph is obvious and in period caught the eye of well-known writer Eoin Young. Impressed partly by the quality of the work, partly by the fact its creator was still a teenager whose full potential had still clearly to be tapped, Young took Pottinger under his wing and even arranged the odd photo shoot with stars of the day. Quite an asset, that, given the relaxed environment and a cast featuring Clark, McLaren, Rindt and others of that ilk.

It’s a fabulous piece of work and can be ordered directly from its creator via [email protected]. SA

Published by the author

ISBN: 978-0-473-35006-2, £30 plus p&p 

The Book

Tom Kristensen

Despite the title, this is not so much a book as a monolith – and it is also splendid. Danish-only Kristensen biographies have previously been produced independently, but the nine-time Le Mans winner devised this project himself. It paints a vivid picture of his life, from his days as a youngster with a racing dad through to his emergence as history’s most successful Le Mans driver, but does so primarily through stunning images reproduced on high-quality paper. 

There is some text, in English, Danish and German, but in essence this is a glossy photographic essay that covers every aspect of one of the most successful racing careers not to feature a single Formula 1 start. And that was Grand Prix racing’s loss, not Kristensen’s. SA

Published by the author

ISBN: 978-87-400-2429-6, £80.99

Iso Bizzarrini – The Remarkable History  of A3/C 0222

Richard Heseltine

Somehow, Iso Bizzarrinis as competition cars managed to leave little trace after their time, and it seems only in the last few years that they have become acknowledged as competitive machinery. Yet as Heseltine describes in this work – first of a new affordable companion series to the Porter Great Cars volumes – it was a Le Mans class winner in 1965 and reached top speeds only bettered by the 7-litre Ford MkIIs. Like the Great Cars series, this concentrates on one car, in this case one of the 23 competition versions of Iso’s A3 two-seater and the one that achieved that Le Mans result.

Its life, and its brethren, are very fully described, as are Bizzarrini himself and Piero Drogo, the car’s progenitors, along with full race histories, Bizzarrini’s later career and that of the car, including its restoration. A technical chapter outlines the design and construction, while a photo gallery of the restored car rounds off an entertaining auto-biography, nicely presented with many fine photos, including a spectacular Klemantaski shot of one of the car’s pilots visibly swearing at a backmarker during that 24-hour classic. GC

Published by Porter Press

ISBN: 978-1-907085-54-3, £30