It Beats Working — My 35 Years Inside Motor Racing, by Eoin Young. PSL, £17.99.
Here is a lighthearted, readable funbook, difficult not to go through without putting it down, and then only if you find that the continual travel, high jinks, spirits, wine and beer episodes call for a brief breather.
Eoin, Eion, Ian (he explains the muddles made of his Christian name) Young describes his entry and progress into motor journalism, his close association with top and lesser racing-drivers, and his work for Bruce McLaren, with verve, writing it very well, as befits a fascinating story. Playboys they were in those initiation days and thus it is great fun to read of the exploits, ups and downs, living conditions and adventures as they unfolded. Eoin does this very neatly, seldom too verbose, as expected of a professional writer. Perhaps the best chapter in his book is that describing the flight home from Luton to Tasmania, New Zealand in Gavin Youls Cessna. It ranks with the best accounts of long flights in light aeroplanes that I have read; as Eoin says, one wonders how many people have made such a trip on one engine since the record-makers of the 1920s? It’s a great accolade for the pilot, who died of cancer a few years later. His aeroplane, owned by Jack Brabham, was refused a C-of-A after the final landing, due to wing corrosion!
Otherwise, the book is about motor-racing and the journalism associated with it. Name-dropping can be excused, indeed is essential to the story. The Foreword is by Jackie Stewart, OBE, with whom Eoin could have become a business-partner and subsequent wealthy man had he not turned the offer down. Well, a wealthier man, because iournalism has, one gathers, not been exactly unlucrative for him. On the subject of “If I were a rich man. . .”, turn to page 39 and you will see why Eoin is, and I may lag behind! But at least he gives me and MOTOR SPORT a complimentary sentence. . Young was in awe of meeting ‘Jenks’ but the book is not quite up to date about him, saying that “he suffered a major stroke in 1996 from which he is still recovering slowly.” A sad understatement: we shall now, I fear, never see the book about his career and the inside motor-racing stories which Denis had intended to write.
If I got the tiniest bit tired of reading about The Barley Mow, spotted a few anecdotes I remembered from Eoin’s long-running Autocar column (and you might want to skip the chapter “Book Dealing”), this was a book I enjoyed very much, a change from the serious, neversmile stuff. The pictures are good, too; the author appears in nearly 75% of them. W B