"Racing Sports Cars"

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by Louis Klemantaski, AIBP, ARPS and Michael Frostick. 61 pp, 10 in by 61/4 in. (Hamish Hamilton Ltd, 90 Great Russell Street, London, WC1.15s)

This book, naturally mainly photographic, is a follow-up of the co-authors’ previous work “Drivers in Action.” It is perhaps, not quite so attractive as that book from the viewpoint of action pictures of great drivers, but it gains in the diversity of its subject-matter. Frostick, who wrote the text, bravely devotes a chapter to the involved question of “What is a Sports Car ?” He deals with it skilfully and makes the present-day racing sports car seem fully justified, but I think he misses a point by not suggesting that the trend towards sleeker bodies for competition sports cars began when riding mechanics were abolished—in the days when they rode in races like the Ards TT and “Double Twelve” at Brooklands. Full-width bodies and screens made faint sense, but afterwards, not. Also, what a pity Klemantaski did not put in a picture from those days of a sports car racing with its hood up, to remind the rising generation of those heroes who crouched beneath and bravely hung on to threshing fabric… for the opening laps of the earlier sports-car classics, Moreover, the odd rules governing the first of the Tourist Trophy series might, have been useful amunition to fire at those who dislike today’s very fast, virtually racing-car sports machinery !

However, space for the text is rather at a premium to to allow for the splendid collection of Louis Klernantaski’s Leica/Ilford photographs. They show well-known drivers in action, intimate pit-shots, with some very interesting special illustrations such as those showing the evolution of Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari, Aston-Martin and Cunningham sports-racing cars and a comparison of racing and sports versions of Talbot, Gordini, Mercedes-Benz, Connaught and Cooper. There are pictures of drivers intimately engaged in “Le Mans starts,” night-racing shots, cockpit views, and many original ideas in word and picture, with only a faint suggestion that in some cases caption has been adapted to picture.

In only two instances have wheels and people’s heads been cut off by exigencies of space, a matter I sometimes hear Motor Sports Continental Correspondent arguing with our photographer ! Klem does not push his Mille Miglia with Collins down the reader’s throat, shoeing only one picture of it, but that a fascinating action view of a town approach as seen through the windscreen at 100 mph, but he does occupy the frontispiece, in characteristic Leica-in-action posture.

Naturally, this book suffers in comparison with the motor journals in not being absolutely up-to-date, so that reference to Salvadori’s sports Maserati causes momentary mental confusion, so rapidly do fashions change in modern motor racing. While the many D-type Jaguars depicted do not have the latest thin-section tail fins. However, a page is devoted to pictures of Ecurie Ecosse, a coincidence, for obviously the book was completed before the Scottish stable’s great success at Le Mans, yet this inclusion provides a happily topical touch.

A good book, a “different” book, and what a blessing that is in today’s welter of more and more “new” motoring books !–WB