By Eoin Young. 176 pp. 9 3/4 in. x 6 3/4 in. (Hamlyn Publishing Group Ltd., Astronaut House, Feltham, Middlesex. £3.95.)
So another racing-driver biography is off the presses! I find it hard to stomach this incessant delving into the lives, thoughts, wealth and intimate actions of drivers who have not completed their careers. Once upon a time we waited a decent interval before craving such material. For instance, it wasn’t until after the Second World War that Posthumus wrote his excellent book about Sir Henry Segrave, who died in 1930, and it wasn’t until Dick Seaman had been killed while driving bravely at Spa that Prince Chula compiled his biography. For this reason these books had impact and were intensely interesting. Before the war it was not usual to discuss a driver’s home life, where he lived, how much he earned and so on—it was only when delving quite recently into the “Homes of the Racing Drivers” that we dug out some dignified, stately residences at variance with the flashy flats and houses beloved of today’s GP aces, especially if located in tax-evasion places. Nor can I visualise de Hane Segrave volunteering that he had sex with Doris Segrave, or with someone else, before he won the 1923 Grand Prix or put the LSR to over 200 m.p.h.—which speed he did, let those who momentarily touch such speeds today remember, 50 years ago. I doubt very much whether anyone ever asked de Hane such a question! Hunt, however, readily provides his answers.
Today it is obviously different, and publicity of any and every kind is regarded as essential to the racing-driver. Hunt makes the point that he never intended his life-story to be published until after he had retired from driving. Written too soon, he says, such a book would not only have been incomplete, but the probable end of his career—which you may or may not follow! That Eoin Young has been given the chance of chronicling the World Champion now, Hunt ascribes to two facts—1976 was, and I quote, the most dramatic season ever in the history of motor racing, and because another publisher produced a Hunt biography “which was less than accurate”.
Howsoever you regard this, here is the complete, authentic James Hunt story to date, by Eoin Young, whom Hunt describes as “probably the best writer in the motor racing business”, with the assistance of David Hodges. It will no doubt be a very welcome book to the younger followers of present-day motor racing—a best-seller, maybe. The opening pages cope with Hunt in anything but a racing car—shooting, running, biking, loving, and playing cricket, squash, tennis and golf, and Hunt as a home-builder, a dog (Alsatian) owner …
The motor racing follows, building up to the climax of the 1976 World Championship. The bulk of the book is about the 1976 season alone, however. There is a final chapter about this year’s racing, up to Brazil, and another about Hunt—The Driver,—”I think I can improve, although I am not sure that I can drive much faster…”. There are Hunt’s opinions of other drivers. It’s all there, including a wealth of excellent pictures. I expect that Hunt’s fans will lap it up, incomplete as it must be.—W.B.
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A useful book for those interested in tanks, military vehicles, etc. is “Military Museums and Events in Silver Jubilee Year”, available from tourist offices at 30p, or for 40p post-free from the English Tourist Board, Dept. S, Grosvenor Gdns., London, SW1W ODU.