Reviews, October 2005

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

The Fast Set: three extraordinary men and their race for the Land Speed Record by Charles Jennings, ISBN 34911596 6, published by Abacus. £8.99 (paperback)

Campbell, Cobb and Segrave — Britain’s Speed Kings, in an era when the country was clinging to the remains of imperial glory. Their various record battles have often been told in the specialist press, but this book, by an outsider as it were, gives a deeper and broader picture of the trio and their world.

Jennings has excavated a great deal of detail not only about the three men but also the others in their motoring and social circles — his picture of Locke King and the Brooklands adventure told me much I didn’t know — and every chapter is furnished with useful background detail of political events, personalities and current affairs. Most of all he shows that these men were not always heroes being heartily cheered by an adoring nation, but obsessives who often had to drum up interest in an activity which, to many, looked like the pointless indulgence of bored and wealthy men.

Jennings makes some bold personal assessments (“Campbell lived a life almost entirely devoted to Contentiousness”) but supports them firmly with a wealth of references from contemporary letters, articles and newsreel footage.

The aristocratic Henry Segrave and the stolid, painstaking John Cobb are vital ingredients of the story, and other record men such as Parry Thomas and Eyston are colourfully outlined. But the binding is Malcolm Campbell, the impatient, mercurial self-promoter. His abrasive behaviour and restless drive for new sensations runs throughout the story and illuminates the unspoken tensions between the three rival record-setters.

Full of unexpected asides (did you know that Campbell was captured by Riff tribesmen in Algeria while looking for a record venue to replace Daytona Beach?), the book is surprisingly strong on the technical side too, showing how at least some of the LSR monsters relied on much outdated technology, overcome by brute force. Jennings calls Campbell’s Bluebird in its final form “a masterpiece of inefficiency”, and he’s probably right.

Altogether, this is an impressive assessment of an era as well as of three privileged compulsives. — GC

***

Motorfilms Quarterly: Volume 13,  DVD,  90 minutes,  www.motorfilms.com,  £19.99

Entertaining as ever, but this latest volume is extra special for us. It features an interview with our own founder editor Bill Boddy on his early life and how he fell in love with cars. Watch out for some choice language! 

Other highlights include footage from Crystal Palace, Mallory and Brands Hatch of the 1961 BRSCC racing scene, complete with bizarre Spike Milligan-style sketches from film maker David Roscoe, and the mother of all US stock car shunts from Langhorne. Both films have to be seen to be believed. —  DS

***

Autodrome: the lost race circuits of Europe by SS Collins and Gavin D Ireland, ISBN 1904788 319,  published by Veloce, £34.99

Damn! The staggeringly enthusiastic Sam Collins, a man who could well drink petrol for breakfast, has only gone and written a book that people have been encouraging Motor Sport  to produce for years. Strongly related to our series of track visits, this hardback picks out nine circuits, relates their history and brings you up to date on their current state. The author’s wistful melancholy is a different approach and I was intrigued about the fund of Brooklands ghost stories, but there are mistakes (passing mentions to ‘Spa-Franchorchamps’) and some of this book is inevitably going over old ground. For that reason I found the chapter on Keimola most interesting. Where this pricey book really scores, though, is on the superb photography: Gavin Ireland really is very promising indeed.– MS

***

The Ford that beat Ferrari  by John S Allen & Gordon J Jones,  ISBN:184425113 6,  Published by Haynes,  £75

First published in 1985, this work on Ford’s iconic GT40 is described as a “complete remake” on the dust jacket. The facelift includes new photographs and revised words where new information has been unearthed over the past 20 years.

Its hefty size (480 pages) is matched by a hefty price. But don’t be put off. The collection of more than 800 photographs of one of the great racing cars is unmatched, while the depth of research within the accompanying long captions is obvious. Fascinating images are made more so by the authors’ detail. An example: how Carroll Shelby’s valuable alligator-leather belt was used to help lash the tail back down on to Mark Donohue’s MkIV after it had flown off on the Mulsanne. A welcome return for an accessible — yet definitive — classic book. — DS

***

The Paddy Hopkirk Story: a dash of the Irish  by Bill Price with Paddy Hopkirk,  ISBN1844251101,  published by Haynes, £18.99

An engaging biography of an archetypal UK sporting ace, this book is written by a man who spent much of the 1960s as a mechanic to the Northern Irish folk hero. It covers Hopkirk’s sporting deeds in meticulous detail — and it’s often forgotten that he was a pretty handy circuit racer, from Formula Junior to Le Mans, as well as the most famous of all rally men (before Colin McRae, anyway). But Price’s insight of the off-road trials, tribulations and escapades (and there were more than a few) provide colour so often lacking in motorsport books: Sir Jackie Stewart, who wrote the foreword, will surely cringe at his geekiness at Jim Clark’s birthday party!  Not altogether sure that feminist readers will appreciate Paddy’s cats being named Beaver and Muff though… — MS

***

McLaren Memories: a biography of Bruce McLaren  by Eoin Young,  ISBN:184425119 5,  Published by Haynes,  £17.99

The author has already written a biography of his old friend, so you might be forgiven for wondering why he has produced another.

Young points out in the book’s introduction that this isn’t a straight biography (even if it says it is on the dust jacket), but a selection of memories from friends and excerpts from Bruce’s regular columns in Autosport.  But it still follows the predictable format of the racing driver biography: chronological, with plenty of race reportage.

As you’d expect from a man so close to the subject, there are anecdotes aplenty which paint a rounded portrait of the Kiwi star. The combination of Young’s easy style and McLaren packing so much into his short life ensures a good read, but does it really add anything that we don’t already know? —  DS

 

You may also like

Related products