Book Reviews, September 1949, September 1949

“A Racing Motorist,” by S. C. H. Davis. (lliffe and Sons Ltd. 216 pages. 10s. 6d.)

This book is really Sammy Davis’ famous “Motor Racing” of 1932, with many of the rather tantalising gaps in that great book filled-in and many new chapters added, the latter covering the 1934 Le Mans race with an Aston-Martin and the 1935 T.T. in a Singer, which ended disastrously for Davis. The remaining new chapters cover Davis’ war-time experiences with mechanised artillery, and form a truly absorbing book in themselves.

Those who were willing to pay fantastic prices for “Motor Racing” during the war but who couldn’t locate a copy, can console themselves that the book is obtainable in this new form. But those who have read “Motor Racing” will find “A Racing Motorist” worth reading — and no praise can be greater, considering that 19 out of the 32 chapters are reprinted without alteration from the earlier book.

There are a few new illustrations, some from the older book, not, however, reproduced so well as in the original edition.

“Wheelspin Abroad,” by C. A. N. May. (Foulis, 176 pages, 8s. 6d.)

This book, by title, is reminiscent of the “William” books. following as it does “Wheelspin” and “More Wheelspin.” This time the “wheelspin” isn’t promoted by slime but by ice, snow and that sort of thing, with a 1 1/4-litre M.G. in-the 1948 Lisbon Rally, and in the 1948 French Alpine Trial with an Allard.

Personal accounts of such events are always interesting, and May’s book is nicely produced and beautifully illustrated, and contains tabulated and past results of the events he covers. There are forewords by John Thornley, of M.G.s, and Sydney Allard. It was a pity, however, that this book wasn’t published nearer the events in question instead of on the eve of this year’s “Alpine,” when those who could have benefited by reading it were en route for the start.

“The Life of Ted Horn — American Racing Champion,” by Russ Catlin, and “Saga of the Roaring Road,” by Fred Wagner (Floyd Clymer, Los Angeles, $2.00 each).

These two books, if they do little to endear us to American champions and the cars and races about which their lives revolve, do contain historical matter which those who pride themselves on complete motor racing libraries will not wish to miss. The type is clear and bold and some of the photographs are very interesting, such, for instance, as that showing the special railroad car which carried Barney Oldfield’s team of racing cars — a Giant Knox, the Blitzen Benz and a Darracq with two bolster fuel tanks — round America. This picture occurs in the “Roaring Road Saga,” which runs to 189 pages; Ted Horn’s biography fills 228 pages.

“The Motor Year Book — 1949,” by Laurence Pomeroy, M.S.A.E., and R. L. de Burgh Walkerley. (Temple Press Ltd., 12s. 6d.)

This book is attractively-produced and constitutes a valuable reference work to both the sporting and technical aspects of 1948’s motoring. Tabulated racing results, detailed tabulated specifications of new British cars, lists of records, rally results and club addresses, and, particularly useful, the figures for performance of the Motor road-tests, make the book a valuable reference work long after it has been read — and if we observe that there isn’t quite as much in it as its bulk and price suggest, we make this statement in the complimentary sense, for so absorbing have Pomeroy and Walkerley made their respective sections on last year’s races, the great drivers and the circuits over which they operate, the trend of design, and performance characteristics of today’s production cars that, reaching the advertisement pages at the end, one craves, like Oliver, for more. The 178 large pages are delightfully illustrated, with cut-away drawings of the A70 Austin, Morris Minor, Hillman Minx and Bristol “401” included, and if a few errors in proof-reading suggest hurried preparation, they can be forgiven. We look forward to the 1950 edition — and by 1970 the present volume will be worth considerably more than 12s. 6d.