READING OTHER PEOPLE’S
letters can be interesting, especially if they are from long ago, and about motorsport. This applies particularly to that intensely exciting pre-WWII period when the mighty MercedesBenz and Auto Unions cars were in action.
Dick Seaman was one of the successful Mercedes-Benz drivers, and his racing was photographed by his friend George Monkhouse, chief engineer at Kodak and also the greatest motor-racing cameraman of that time.
You, too, can now read their letters by purchasing Dick &George by Doug Nye (Palawan Press, London, ISBN 952300 9 9, 1,135). Nye was given letters, telegrams and postcards sent between Seaman and Monkhouse (who used his vintage Bentley 4.5-litre on his 1937/38 photographic sessions) and those of Seaman’s mother, fiancee and others. Facsimiles of this material are used in this important book, with a huge array of fascinating photographs, and the letters are repeated clearly in the text The story that unfolds is irresistible to those who remember or want to know more about those dramatic racing years. Some of it is critical of other drivers, some of it humorous,
and some positively revealing from Seaman’s start as a racing driver to the sad accounts of his death in the 1939 Spa GP and his funeral. His meeting with Erica Popp, whom he married, his autocratic mother’s views of his profession and this marriage to a German girl, the true reasons for race retirements and Dick’s crashes, and so much more, are encompassed in those letters. Much of the information, including Erica’s later marriages, is material never previously disclosed. I was very
gratified, for instance, to learn that when George asked Dick if he had heard about the lecture that he had given to the Harrow CC in 1938, Seaman said he had read my report of it in MOTOR SPORT.
Race history is also provided, with much about the 1.5-litre GP Delage Seaman used so successfully (although this material has already appeared elsewhere, along with data from Dick’s letters to Giulio Ramponi which Lord Montagu asked me to analyse for his Veteran & Vintage magazine). Many items in the letters are explained in 41 pages of illustrated notes (in which the Lorraine-Dietrich that won at Brooklands in 1907 is mistaken for the 1912 GP Lorraine Vieux
Charles Trois, and Edwards was the secretary of the BRDC, not of the JCC) and there is a good Index.
We have had some outstanding books recently and this is one of the finest, even if you need a lectern to read it comfortably (it weighs in at a hefty 6lbs).
It will enthral you, though pictures of the crashed car at Spa and funeral will sadden you.
Only 1500 copies of Dick and George are to be printed, so this is a chance not to be missed.