Book reviews, September 2013, September 2013

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McLaren from the Inside
Photographs by Tyler Alexander

As you can read in this issue, Tyler Alexander is one of the privileged few to have worked closely with Bruce McLaren. It turns out he is also a talented photographer, as this wondrous book proves. Alexander’s interest in taking pictures blossomed while growing up in Hingham, Massachusetts. By the time he was working in racing, the mechanic was clearly accomplished behind the lens.

Lovely shots include Carroll Shelby grinning in a Yamaha-sponsored kimono dressing gown and floppy cowboy hat beside Dan Gurney at Indy and a Minivan fitted with the spindly rear wing from an M8B Can-Am car. The team used the van to test wing shapes at 60mph on the public road… and downforce was measured with a set of bathroom scales.

Fittingly, his shots of Bruce stand out the most. Our favourite is one of a moody McLaren behind a “dreadful” Ford Indy V8 his young team used in Formula 1 during 1966. You’d struggle to find a better image of the great man.

Alexander found less time for photography as the 1970s progressed, but returned to his hobby in his second stint with McLaren in the 1990s and 2000s. The results are less striking than his work in the earlier era, but some are still memorable. Ron Dennis lecturing a grim-faced Pierre Dupasquier of Michelin is fabulous, just like most of this book. DS

Published by David Bull Publishing, ISBN 978 1 935007 18 0, £35

Martin Brundle Scrapbook
Martin Brundle and Philip Porter

Following a series of similar volumes covering Stirling Moss, Graham Hill, Jaguar, Murray Walker and comedy legend Barry Cryer, Porter has stitched together another with the popular racer-turned-broadcaster.

The format might be familiar, but that doesn’t dilute the content’s appeal. Brundle’s story is told in bite-sized chunks, some from him but many more from friends, family and team members who have worked with and watched him closely since his schooldays.

Every stage of his career is lavishly illustrated with everything from photographs and press clippings to race programme scans and school reports. Little-known fact: he was first offered a drive by a third party aged about 13, when a Norfolk scrap dealer suggested Brundle might like to race his Hillman Super Minx at Pott Row, a now-defunct banger track near King’s Lynn. The youngster thought it handled strangely, but found out later that the owner had partially filled the fuel tank with concrete, in a bid to improve traction…

Although the book is listed at £34.95, incidentally, you can save a fiver by ordering direct from the publisher before September 12. SA

Published by Porter Press International Ltd., ISBN 978 1 907085 12 3, £34.95

Manx Car Races
The Golden Years
1904-1953, Volume One
Neil Hanson

So strong is its association with motorcycle sport that the Isle of Man’s significant car racing heritage is all too easily overlooked.

It staged its first event in 1904, one year before bikes arrived…

This charming photo essay highlights some of the distinguished cars and drivers that graced the island’s myriad road circuits between 1904 and 1953.

The author was born in Douglas, the publisher is based in Ramsey and all shots come from the locally based Keig family’s photographic business. The production, then, is every bit as Manx as the average kipper. SA

Published by Lily Publications, ISBN978 1 907945 33 5, £16

The Bugatti 100P record plane
Created by Ettore Bugatti and Louis de Monge
Jaap Horst

A slightly misleading title – the Bugatti aeroplane takes up a third of this book, followed by a short history of the company and then a long section on all aeroplanes utilising Bugatti engines.

The section on Ettore’s unfinished air speed record contender is the most comprehensive I’ve seen on this super-sleek 350mph cruise missile. With its mid-mounted twin engines, reclining pilot and rear radiators, it sounds like something Colin Chapman should have designed.

War led to the part-built plane being hidden in a barn for many years, until bought by a US collector. The book illustrates stages in its eventual (static) completion, with many drawings and some quaint translations, but where else can you read about this mad, beautiful machine? GC

Published by Lanasta, ISBN 978 90 8616 123 2, €38.95