Grand Prix Racers
Portraits of Speed
Photography: Bernard and Paul-Henri Cahier. Text: Xavier Chimits
What a fitting tribute to a great photographer. Bernard Cahier, who died recently at the age of 81, started shooting Grands Prix in 1952. His son Paul-Henri is established at the top of the profession, and between them they have charted the course of Formula 1 history. Here is the result.
These portraits of the stars, all presented beautifully in black and white, are simply stunning. The Cahiers have a knack of capturing the essence of their subjects, as if they are tapping into the drivers’ souls. There are so many examples that take your breath away – the Michael Schumacher shot on page 59 is simply the best I’ve seen of the man. To avoid the obvious trap of chronology, the drivers are grouped in six chapters: the stylists, the tenacious ones, the romantics, the scientists, the acrobats and the tough ones.
The text with each subject adds some colour, particularly when author Xavier Chimits begins to wax lyrical. But words are not the point of this wonderful book. And for perhaps the best collection of racing driver portraits ever published, what a wonderful price, too. DS
Published by Motorbooks, ISBN 978 0 7603 3430 0, £25
To anyone who lived through the ’70s idolising heroes such as Barry Sheene and Kenny Roberts, this highly personal account of ‘Rocket Ron’ Haslam’s life will remind you of a time when bike racers came from simpler stock. This rags-to-riches tale follows Ron, the youngest of 10 children, through his early life helping his brothers with their motorcycling adventures. Accidents claimed two of his brothers and this resonates deeply through the book.
The final part concentrates on his son Leon, the ‘Pocket Rocket’ and current Superbike star, and the traumas of being on the other side of the pitwall. This is a hugely enjoyable, funny and entertaining story that follows the highs and lows of a much-loved British legend. DC
Published by Bantam Press, ISBN 978 0 593 05963 0, £18.99
Sports Car Racing in Camera 1970-1979
With so many racing histories piling up on the review shelf a photobook comes as a relief. It’s no lightweight, though: along with a hearty spread of pictures Parker offers a chatty summary of each year to back up informative captions for every photo.
This decade saw huge change as aerodynamics reshaped everything, and like me Parker leans towards the time when 512s were still curvaceous. But a few extra shots from those years don’t distort the view, which includes some fine photography. Some you’ll recognise, but Parker also includes ‘Beurlys’ as well as Rodriguez, Sebring as well as Spa, plus lists of all the teams and major results. Shame it’s not wide format. GC
Published by Haynes, ISBN 978 1 84425 471 2, £30
Motor Racing at Oulton Park in the 1970s & Hot Rod & Stock Car Racing in Britain in the 1980s
Peter McFadyen and Richard John Neil
These two books by McFadyen and Neil respectively are part of the Veloce series called ‘Those were the days…’, which has already produced books on other famous British tracks such as Crystal Palace and Goodwood. Motor Racing at Oulton Park in the ’70s provides a useful compact insight into events at the Cheshire circuit, with well-written text by McFadyen, who has attended and photographed many of the races.
Hot Rod and Stock Car Racing… is a great introduction to this diverse and fascinating form of the sport, but don’t expect an intricate history – it’s supposed to be light reading, after all. EF
Published by Veloce, ISBN 978 1 84584 167 6/164 5, £12.99 each