Formula 1: The Roaring 70's is the second installment of an incredible decade by decade history of Formula 1 racing. Rainer W. Schlegelmilch is a master photographer that captured the essence of the 1970's.
I love this book almost as much as Schlegelmilch's first book on the 1960's, The Golden Age of Formula 1, (The Golden Age of Formula 1). The contrast is incredible between these two books. The 1960's book was almost all black and white, the 70's all color. The 60's focused on the gorgeous cars and the courage of the drivers. The 70's book is more about the spectacle and grand view of the races and the lovely female entourage that showed up around the drivers. Where there were virtually no sponsors in the 60's, the 70's was all about the growing corporate sponsors and their effect on the sport.
Schlegelmilch's technique with the camera changed and how he saw the racing world around him. In the 60's the photographs are almost all perfectly tack sharp and grain free. In the 70's he begins to experiment with faster shooting, more grain, blurring of the race cars, and, a technique I don't care much for, the zoom lens or twisted camera blur (sadly this technique caught on and is still around auto racing). Schlegelmilch is without question a master photographer. It appears that during the 70's he has taken thousands of photographs at hundreds of races. The choices he makes for this book are remarkable.
The book tells a wonderful story of how much the cars changed during the 70's. The photographs are presented in mostly chronological order. In the early 70's experimental strange looking wings have grown on the front and rear of those beautiful clean 60's machines. A few years in, the cars bear absolutely no resemblance to the beginning of the decade - side pods grow, wings grow everywhere, the driver suit changes, and the fireproof suit / balaclava appear after Niki Lauda's horrible accident.
The book is full of remarkable images, each tell stories way beyond the sometimes clumsy captions. An early image of three photographers at Monaco lying on the ground underneath the thin Armco rail, speak volumes of how much spectator and photographer safety would change in the 70's. The most chilling image is from September 1970 at Monaco. This is a perfectly composed image of the pits, along the visual diagonal there are three women (a man in a suit interrupts the perfect line). In the foreground is a gorgeous woman with a stopwatch, looking into the distance. The caption gives the horrible truth of this moment, Nina Rindt hadn't gotten the news yet that her husband Johen Rindt had just died in a horrible crash at Monza. Another chilling image is a head shot of Niki Lauda with those piercing blue eyes underneath his red racing helmet concentrating on the start of the 1976 Nurburgring race. This is the race where Lauda crashed, was burned so badly he was given last rites. He recovered from that accident and four weeks later is racing again in Monza.
One of my favorite images is of Mario Andretti in the victory circle at the 1977 Long Beach Grand Prix. Mario is smiling, something he rarely does. The beauty of the picture, he is smiling and looking at his 15 year old son Michael.
I prefer the Golden Age of Formula One; I loved the focus on the cars and the drivers of that era. There was innocence to Schlegelmilch's photography; I could see how he was developing his amazing talent as a photographer. This book includes more about the things that happened around racing, the sponsors, the women, the branding of some drivers (especially Jackie Stewart) and the politics (Schlegelmilch manages to, rightfully so, include a number of jabs at Bernie Eccelstone and Max Mosley). It feels like Schlegelmilch got caught up in the entourage. But that was also what racing in the 70's was about, money and popularity.
As a massive set, the Golden Era and The Roaring 70's make for a fantastic history of Formula 1 racing. Just like the previous book, this one is flawlessly printed and bound. The paper is very heavy. This book is about the story of Formula 1 and not necessarily the purity of the images, so there are captions in German and English for every image. Double page images are captioned on the previous page not always in the most logical place - this is sometimes confusing. The book is large format, roughly 11 x 14 inches. This is a beautiful book to hold, representing some of the best in publishing fine images.
The 60's brought back childhood memories, long ago dreams about racing, and cars that I still love to this day. The 70's reminded me of the birth of auto racing I would be addicted to in the 80's and 90's. The 70's was about innocence lost.
The publisher provided me with a review copy of this book.