Reviews, September 2014

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Formula One Circuits From Above
Bruce Jones

In principle the idea is excellent: tap into the miracle of Google Earth to provide satellite imagery of the world’s classic racetracks, with explanatory footnotes detailing the finer points of each corner and scattered paragraphs outlining the great, the good and the successes they achieved locally.

In parts this works well, but “legendary” seems an odd adjective to describe some of the 28 circuits within. Brands Hatch, Suzuka, Interlagos, Zandvoort, Watkins Glen, Monaco and the Nordschleife? Yes, absolutely. But Indianapolis and Sakhir? The first lasted five minutes and was a dull, fiddly track within an awesome complex. The other has proved slightly more durable, but one stellar Grand Prix does not an icon make.

There are obvious commercial advantages to incorporating current Formula 1 venues, but this could be the prototype for a richer, more exploratory volume, one that uses similar technology to celebrate other asphalt ribbons – and not just those that might have hosted F1 events.

The original Österreichring, Pescara, Reims, the Mugello and Brno road circuits, Rouen, Solitude, Chimay, Porto, the Indy oval and Bremgarten? Yes, absolutely.

But Sakhir? The answer’s still “no”… SA

Published by Carlton, ISBN 978-1-78097-549-1, £25

Win Percy: The Remarkable Life of an Unassuming racer
Spike Anderson

Win Percy deserved to have a book written about his career. He doesn’t quite get the credit he deserves, perhaps because of his reputation as a tin-top man – with only brief excursions into sports cars – but he emerged as one of the great touring car drivers in an era when that really meant something, wrestling machinery as diverse as Mazda RX-7s, Jaguar XJ-Ss and Holden Commodores around the world stage. Inextricably linked with close friend Tom Walkinshaw, his stories of those days are vibrant and often hilarious.

The one thing that lets the book down is the design. Professional-quality photos sit next to grainy, out-of-focus snapshots, and the font isn’t the easiest to read. But it doesn’t completely detract from a fascinating story that’s well told. ACH

Published by Hughes Graphics, ISBN 978-0-64691834-1, from http://tinyurl.com/lfglzye, £40

Le Mans
The Official History 1990-99
Quentin Spurring

Though under a new publisher, Spurring’s impressive Le Mans history series continues as before, with similar layout and – more to the point – the same authority.

Each race of the decade is comprehensively outlined with full entry, qualifying and results tables, race story and sections on rules, teams and any topics that merit it, whether it’s Porsche’s skip round the new GT rules with a road-going 962 or hybrid power’s first 24-hour appearance in a Panoz.

This volume covers every entry in a tumultuous era that included the death of GpC, the smallest-ever Le Mans grid, the first wins by ‘road-going’ GTs since the ’60s and the first victory for Japan, all not merely reported here but explained in context and in depth. Spurring’s knowledge and clear writing make this a resource to value. The only minor gripe? There are no actual captions, which means reading the text alongside to identify each shot. If only it weren’t so interesting… GC

Published by Evro, ISBN 978-0-9928209-1-6, £50

Group 2: The Genesis of World Rallying, 1946-1973
John Davenport & Reinhard Klein

Anything blessed with the McKlein hallmark comes with an infusion of high quality as standard – and this is no different.

Klein’s images have long set the standard for artistry and reportage. There aren’t many of his signature landscapes in this particular volume, but it’s a peerless (and crisp) photographic record of rallying’s evolution over more than 20 years, with everything from Sunbeam Rapiers and Minis to Alpine A110s, via a shot of Ford’s competition department preparing Corsairs (alongside the more obvious Lotus Cortinas) in 1964.

Between these visual treats, well-known writer John Davenport provides the binding glue. Former journalist, co-driver and head of British Leyland’s competition division, Davenport recalls a time when rallying was less about tightly scheduled events and more about a collective spirit of adventure, when highly drilled servicing teams had yet to be invented, so crews would set about bodging temporary fixes with chewing gum, string or whatever else they could find.

It’s an affectionate tribute to a world that no longer exists in this form. SA

Published by McKlein, ISBN 978-3-927458-73-4, €49.90

The Art of the Formula 1 Race Car
Stuart Codling and James Mann

This large-format, hard-backed photo essay comes from the combined talents of seasoned car photographer James Mann and F1 journalist Stuart Codling. Each one of the 22 featured cars has an interesting and well-written summary of its life, including insightful opinions from Gordon Murray.

However, with the grand title Art of the Formula One Race Car you would reasonably expect a glossy, coffee-table book highlighting the artistic aspect of each car. While there are plenty of images, each loses a lot of detail against a repetitive black background. According to his notes, photographer Mann sometimes had to shoot three cars in a day – and the project’s occasionally rushed nature is reflected in the quality of some images.

For £30, it is an affordable way to enjoy F1 cars of every era with a degree of detail – but don’t expect it to be quite as artistic as the title implies. DC

Published by Motorbooks, ISBN 978-0-760346-07-5, £30

The Other Side of Winning
Barry Lee

Showjumping, speedway, autocross, rallycross, rallying, hot rods, touring cars, racing trucks, all manner of circuit racing, road safety campaigner, TV celebrity…

There seems to be nothing that Barry ‘Leapy’ Lee didn’t tackle during his long and varied career.

This independently published book is written as an entertaining autobiography interspersed with stories and anecdotes from such names as rallycross legend Martin Schanche, Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason, Showaddywaddy lead singer Dave Bartram, M-Sport boss Malcolm Wilson and TV presenter Anneka Rice. That gives you an idea of how diverse Barry’s life has been.

Ever the showman, his popularity with fans stemmed from his attitude of giving people something to remember, whether it be painting his Ford Anglia bright yellow when others had dull grey versions or wearing shiny gold race overalls with studded rhinestones. He was rarely one to shy away from media attention.

Not cheap, but highly evocative to those of us with happy Saturday afternoon memories of Dickie Davies introducing another race win for number 351 on World of Sport. DC

Published by Concept, from www.barrylee.co.uk, £24.95

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