AUTOCOURSE 60 YEARS OF WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP GRAND PRIX MOTOR RACING – ALAN HENRY
The clearest statement one can make of this elegantly produced history of the World Championship is that it’s big, colourful and ambitious, and thus a near-perfect analogue to F1 itself. The author has plundered Autocourse’s exceptional 60-year-old archive of interviews and articles, judicious extracts of which litter the text. So, apropos Frank Williams’ querulous suggestion that Keke Rosberg’s wild ﬁ rst laps and cigarette habit were linked, no third-person account of the Finn’s response competes with reading his stinging retort: “That’s bulls**t!”
Despite the occasional factual error, Henry’s lucid prose moves the narrative along at a brisk pace, adeptly explicating the constantly changing dramatis personae and shifting political geography – Edmund Spenser’s “ever whirling wheels of change”. Single-topic essays, of one or two pages, on notable personalities, technical innovations, commercial developments and the like allow for a more desultory read.
Oddly, perhaps, my only qualm is with the sumptuous photography. Although Paul-Henri Cahier’s gorgeous chiaruscuro images are spectacularly evocative, more prosaic and informative photographs, circuit maps, technical diagrams, and, above all, an index would have beneﬁ tted a volume otherwise perfectly suited to the inquisitive layman.
However, the self-conscious artiness, hefty price tag, substantial weight and high-gloss production value seemingly beﬁ t a book for which the natural habitat is the coffee table. All the same, it will be a rewarding read. IM Published by Icon Publishing Limited, ISBN 978 1 905334 56 8, £49.95
GRAND PRIX BATTLEGROUNDS
A COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO ALL FORMULA 1 CIRCUITS SINCE 1950 – Christopher Hilton
From the first World Championship race at Silverstone in 1950, to the last race of 2009 at Abu Dhabi, this book documents a mind-boggling 820 GPs over ﬁve continents and 28 countries.
Every World Championship circuit is listed. ‘Cockpit view’, ‘eyewitness’ and ‘memories and milestones’ sections supplement the main overview of key moments from their history.
The facts are presented in a clear, concise way. However, it feels a little dry and could do with more excitement to bring these wonderful circuits alive. You’ll want to explore other efforts to learn the whole story of each venue.
But the biggest disappointment is the imagery. The LAT archive pictures are perfectly decent, but the rest consist of locally sourced snaps which make for a slightly low-quality feel. DC Published by Haynes Publishing, ISBN 978 1 84425 694 5, £40
FROM DRAWING BOARD TO CHEQUERED FLAG – Tony Southgate
What a lot of racing cars! Tony Southgate must have a claim to the title of most proliﬁc race car designer we have ever seen.
This very likeable pen-for-hire aerodynamicist and engineer started out at Lola as a draughtsman, working on what would become the GT40, and he was still designing top-line sports cars right up to the end of the 1990s. In between there were numerous Formula 1 cars, F5000s, Indycars and even rally cars (Ford’s RS200), most of which were competitive – and those that weren’t at least lend themselves to good yarns.
Southgate proves a compelling narrator. The chapters on Shadow, his controversial switch to Arrows and the TWR Jaguar Group C days are key, but there is so much more in between. Highly recommended. DS Published by MRP Publishing Ltd, ISBN 978 1 899870 82 0, £45
THE BATTLE FOR THE BRITISH GRAND PRIX
THE INSIDE STORY OF THE FIGHT TO SAVE BRITAIN’S BIGGEST MOTOR RACE – ALAN HENRYThe past 20 years have been pock-marked by ferocious politics as far as the British Grand Prix is concerned. But as this book documents, wrangling and wheeler-dealing have always surrounded the UK’s biggest motor race.
We begin at Silverstone post-war (with only passing reference to the race’s pre-war foundations), then zip through the race-sharing years with Aintree and Brands Hatch, pausing to examine how these tracks muscled in on the BRDC’s turf. Interesting stuff, but it’s from the early 1990s that the ‘battle’ referred to in the title really heats up.
No writer is better qualiﬁ ed to tackle this subject. As well as being one of the best news journalists in Formula 1 for over 30 years, Alan Henry served time on the board of the BRDC at the height of the club’s hostilities with Bernie Ecclestone. As you’d expect, politics and business override sport in this story, so it won’t be for everyone. But it’s good that someone has committed to publishing such an important part of British racing history. A worthy and valuable addition. DS Published by Haynes Publishing, ISBN 978 1 84425 974 8, £19.99