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AUGUST 2, 2005

Legends of Speed - Brabham to Webber, Beechey to Brock


LEGENDS OF SPEED - Brabham to Webber, Beechey to Brock

The story of Australia's great race drivers, by Bill Woods

Published by HarperSports,

Like Greg Mills' John Love biography, this covers forgotten eras of Australian motorsport that would otherwise long have been forgotten by all but the hardiest enthusiasts, but as the title suggests it also reaches to the modern day with the exploits of Mark Webber.

A very much fatter tome, this paperback does a clever job of separating the disciplines of F1 and touring cars (though in some cases, such as Larry Perkins they overlap), while also covering the great days of F5000 and the Tasman Series.

The result is one of those wonderful books into which you can dip and delve at leisure, learning and remembering in equal measure. It's finely written and strongly quote-driven, while being laced with Aussie humour. It's poignant, too, when you think how close Vern Schuppan came to fame at BRM in 1973 until a buck-toothed Austrian outwitted everyone at Bourne before jumping ship to Ferrari a year later. Talk about there but for fortune√Č Or when you read of the passing of the much-loved giant Max Stewart, told in the words of Schuppan and Stewart's great friend Kevin Bartlett. Emotive stuff, tastefully and respectfully presented.

I loved this book not just for the tales it tells and the disparate eras and characters that it covers, but because such volumes so rarely come along in a time when soundbites seem to mean so much more to publishers and readers. It's one of those books that I will still be enjoying, and re-reading, long after it's out of print.