BOOK REVIEWS

Christmas book reviews


RACING IN THE RAIN - My Years with Brilliant Drivers, Legendary Sports Cars, and a Dedicated Team

By John Horsman
Forewords by Jacky Ickx, Brian Redman, Derek Bell and Vern Schuppan
Published by David Bull Publishing
ISBN: 1 893618 71 4.

John Wyer tends to get most of the credit for the fantastic successes of JW Automotive in sportscar racing in the Sixties and Seventies, but he needed strong back-up to create a team that was as legendary in its era as Ferrari is in F1 today. John Horsman was the quiet engineering genius who oversaw preparation of the cars that David Yorke then directed in their races. Such was JW Automotive's combined ability that it helped to tame the wayward Porsche 917 during a test session in 1969, and went on to make it the outstanding sportsracer of its time.

Horsman's career started under Wyer at Aston Martin, and he followed him to Ford Advanced Vehicles and thence to JWA.

His tale thus embraces racing the David Brown Astons from 1958 to 1963, then the birth pains of the Ford GT40, before covering JWA's Mirage and GT40 periods that led to the glory days of the 917 with drivers such as Pedro Rodriguez, Jo Siffert, Brian Redman and Derek Bell. Also of particular interest is the underwritten tale of the ill-fated Mirage M12 Le Mans car of 1982. The pithy text is complemented by some evocative photographs, which include a colour section. One of the most poignant is a smiling Pedro, hair immaculate, arm raised in a salute, moments after stepping from his 917 after winning the Austrian 1000kms almost single-handedly in 1971. Horsman rates that as the Mexican's second best race, after the soaked race at Brands Hatch the previous year. Within days of the photo being taken, Rodriguez was dead, and as Horsman relates, his passing tore the heart out of a team that had only hired him initially in 1967 because it believed he would be steady and reliable?

Forget the cumbersome sub-title, this is one of those great motor racing books that is full of wonderful titbits and anecdotes. Just don't expect to put it down in a hurry.

Buy now: Racing in the Rain: My Years with Brilliant Drivers, Legendary Sports CArs, and a Dedicated Team


VIC ELFORD - Reflections on a Golden Era in Motorsports

By Vic Elford
Foreword by Ferdinand Piech
Published by David Bull Publishing
ISBN: 1 893618 52 8.

'Quick Vic' Elford scored three World Championship points on his F1 debut, driving his Cooper-BRM to fourth place in the rain-soaked French GP of 1968. That same season he had won the Daytona 24 Hours, the Nurburgring 1000 kms and the Targa Florio, plus the Monte Carlo Rally, all for Porsche. That gives you some idea of the depth of talent of this blisteringly quick yet often underrated racer, as does the fact that, at Rouen in his F1 debut, he ran on 'dry' tyres all the way through.Elford's tale of how that drive came about is amusing and enlightening, as is so much of his story: how he drove not one but two F1 cars on the day of his first test in the category, for BRM and then for Cooper. And how, as he was leaving, John Cooper asked casually: "What are you doing next weekend?" That led to the invitation to drive in France (for 200 plus expenses!), and for the rest of the season. A year later Elford soldiered on with the previous model Cooper, the Maserati-engined T86 for Colin Crabbe, before getting involved in Mario Andretti's accident at the Nurburgring once Crabbe had bought the unique McLaren M7B. His account of that harrowing incident is not for the faint-hearted.

When it comes to rating drivers, Elford was on his day certainly up there with the likes of Pedro Rodriguez, Jo Siffert, Brian Redman and Jacky Ickx. And the more you read his book the more you realise that he is no slouch as a writer, either. It flows beautifully.

David Bull is to be congratulated for capturing the memories of a driver whose career embraced success in so many different disciplines, and who lesser publishers might have been inclined to overlook. Draw the curtains, pour yourself a nice Christmas drink, and settle down for a rollercoaster ride of a story.

Buy now: Vic Elford: Reflections on a Golden Age in Motorsports


INSIDE FERRARI - Unique behind-the-scenes photography of the world's greatest motor racing team

Photography by Jon Nicholson, words by Maurice Hamilton
Foreword by Jean Todt
Published by Mitchell Beazley
ISBN-13: 978 1 84533 270 9; ISBN-10: 1 84533 270 9.

With the retirement of Michael Schumacher, Scuderia Ferrari is going to be a very different team, albeit perhaps in the medium rather than the short-term. But if you want to get a flavour for how the famed equipe was in the great German's final three seasons, then Mitchell Beazley's latest offering is the answer. It brings back the pairing of lensman Jon Nicholson and Radio Five Live wordsmith Maurice Hamilton - both respected figures in the F1 paddock - who worked together successfully in the past on books on Damon Hill and Jordan.

This is primarily a photo-led book and inevitably many of them are of a celebratory nature given the Scuderia's achievements, but Hamilton's text fills in the gaps neatly and concisely investigating themes such as the Ferrari factory, testing, the cars, the drivers, racing and family, the latter referring to the team as a family rather than those of the individual drivers.

At nearly 300 pages, in full colour, and of 10 x 11 format, this is a lot of book for not a lot of money, and its principal appeal will be to diehard tifosi.

Buy now: Inside Ferrari: Unique Behind-the-Scenes Photography of the World's Greatest Formula One Team

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