Books: November 2017
The Secret World of the F1 Pit Lane
The principle is sound, as are the author’s credentials. Now an analyst in the motor sport media, Priestley worked in Formula 1 with McLaren for 10 seasons – swiftly rising to chief mechanic – and his stint at the team coincided with those of Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Kimi Räikkönen… a rich seam of material if we pause right there.
It’s interesting to read confirmation of stuff that was at the time denied (Ron Dennis and Hamilton having an expletive-laden row at Budapest in 2007, for instance), or to hear a first-hand account of Kimi’s penchant for carousing between races (though he was always committed at times of necessity). It also confirms that 1960s-style japes are not necessarily extinct in the modern age, despite the puritanical image some F1 insiders have tried to peddle in public.
This is let down only by an occasional tendency to wander into tabloid territory – engines are forever ‘screaming’ and adjectives are often used unnecessarily in a bid to inject drama where none is required – but for the most part it comes across as genuine attempt to reflect the day-to-day realities of a relentless life on the road. And it is relayed by someone who doesn’t feel duty-bound to toe the corporate line… SA
Published by Yellow Jersey Press.
ISBN: 978-1-787290-00-6, £20
LE MANS 1930-39
This is the seventh volume in respected wordsmith Spurring’s Automobile Club de l’Ouest-licensed ‘official history’ series, which now spans 1923-1999.
As with the previous six, the accent is on sumptuous detail backed up by fine period photography – not the work of a moment when you’re dealing with events that took place 80-odd years ago. Entry lists and results tables contribute to the book’s value as a work of reference, but it’s the little vignettes that bring the whole to life – sub-plots that uncover stories that might otherwise be overlooked and make this much, much more than a straightforward sequence of race reports.
Essential, in a word. SA
Published by Evro
ISBN: 978-1-910505-13-9, £60
THE PLACES THEY RACED
Circuits of the Golden Age
You might argue about which age of racing was the golden one, but looking through this compact album you couldn’t dispute the toughness of pioneer racers. Consisting only of pre-WWI postcards of Renaults, Brasiers, Napiers and the like slithering over rutted muddy road circuits, this little hardback conveys the raw nature of early racing in spades. Many shots show the roads on non-race days, cluttered with chickens, bicycles and dog-carts, making it tempting for cartophiles to do some Google Earthing.
There are captions that don’t add a lot, and the circuits run into each other without separation, but a foreword by NMM manager Doug Hill gives a flavour of wrestling a frame-twisting, cart-sprung, two-wheel-braked leviathan through gravelled corners inches from stone houses. Not a major feat of research, but half an hour of fun. GC
Available from publisher Douglas Loveridge, [email protected], £35
SECOND TO NONE
The European Formula 2 Championship 1967-1984
Chris & Tony Ellard
Motor Sport recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of the European F2 Championship’s inauguration – and we’re not the only ones. Former journalist Chris Witty is writing a definitive review – and in the meantime we’ve received this, a charming example of the self-publishing art. That inevitably means a few design compromises – and the cover shot of the main volume is horribly soft – but it’s a pleasant, race-by-race amble through 18 seasons of some of Europe’s most engaging motor sport.
This package is effectively three books in one, with twin appendices chronicling results from the first European F2 meeting (Snetterton 1967) through to a soggy swansong at Brands Hatch in 1984. Although interest in the championship had dwindled by then, these serve as a reminder of the days when European F2 featured almost as many non-qualifiers as it did starters, when the likes of Max Bonnin, Luis de Almenara and Giancarlo Naddeo tried in vain to make the cut – and our sport was all the richer for their presence. SA
Published by W3
ISBN: 978-1-5262-0537-7, £40
LOLA: THE ILLUSTRATED
HISTORY 1957 TO 1977
John Starkey and Ken Wells
Over the decades, Lola evolved from a small garage premises in Bromley to become one of the world’s most respected race car constructors. While the likes of Ferrari and Lotus depended on road car sales to stay afloat, Lola survived on race car production alone – until the original business finally ceased trading in 2012.
It had come close to the brink on several previous occasions, but this is a revised edition of a book that covers Eric Broadley’s company from its foundation to the fruitful mid-1970s.
Surtees, Stewart, Hill and Unser are among legendary names that won races or titles in Lolas and this features every single-seater or sports car model built between 1957 and 1977, accompanied by comprehensive racing records.
The authors leave you in no doubt that Lola was one of Britain’s greatest constructors – such was their conviction, indeed, that they claimed: “It is arguable that in time Eric Broadley and his company will be seen to be as important, if not more so, than either Lotus or Ferrari.” Quite an accolade, if perhaps now obsolete. MT
Published by Veloce
ISBN: 978-1-787111-04-2, £37.50