on 24 January 2010
I got this book for my other half, an F1 tyre technician at Goodyear and Team Surtees in the 70's.
He found it funny and factual. Lots of stories about characters in the sport then and some still there! Hebie Blash, Bob Dance, Bob Sparsholt and Ron Dennis to name just a few. It shows the real conditions then - travelling around covering the F1 World Championship - compared to what you see on the TV now.Well worth the price!
on 11 September 2012
The book's Spartan format will not be to everyone's taste. A paperback, it has densely-packed text, small photographs, and far too much marketing material from publisher Veloce: a page of titles at the front, two pages of book covers at the back, and no fewer than six of the 11 chapters end with reminders of Veloce's web site and its special offers and gift vouchers (moan over...). But do not let this stop you from enjoying the quality of Oliver's narrative, the fascinating stories he has assiduously collected, the 30 pen portraits of some of the mechanics he interviewed, and the photographs made available to him from their private collections. A further reason to buy the book is that 40% of all royalties go to the Grand Prix Mechanics Charitable Trust, whose founder, Jackie Stewart, provides the Foreword.
The book has clearly-themed chapters, and Oliver believes that it is best experienced by dipping into it rather than reading it in one sitting, because the tales are individual vignettes rather than one seamless story. They speak of a different era. Europe had no open borders or common currency, and the roads left much to be desired. Teams travelled to race meetings in converted coaches or home-made specials, and crossing the Alps played havoc with clutches and transmissions on the way up, and brakes on the way down.
It was a more gentlemanly time too, when competition was restricted to the track, and mechanics from rival teams would willingly help each other out in the paddock. One example from the 1968 Mexican Grand Prix speaks volumes. Graham Hill of Lotus, Jackie Stewart in Ken Tyrrell's Matra and Denny Hulme of McLaren were vying for the World Championship, and Lotus chief Colin Chapman had come up with a way of giving Hill an advantage--a feathered rear wing to cut drag on the straights. As his mechanics set about yet another all-nighter to undertake the work, they were able to rely on the other teams to provide the hundreds of rivets required, and the Tyrrell and McLaren mechanics brought a cake into the Lotus garage to wish them luck.
on 12 March 2011
An excellent book that illustrates what life was like before motor racing became sanitised and corporate.Its impossible to visualise a current chief mechanic having to rebuild the engine in the transporter while away from home and yet in the pre-internet era when mobile phones were something from science fiction,it used to happen.The entire range of events from the practical jokes to the need to deal with the aftermath of serious accidents is covered.A smallish selection of photographs includes a shot of all the mechanics of all the teams which is quite a shock when compared to the current small armies used by each team.A very absorbing book and hopefully it will provoke enough memories for a second volume before too long.
on 17 October 2010
Great book for anybody interested in Motor Racing, and F1 in particular. We hear all about the heroic drivers, but this book tells much about what happened behind the scenes in days gone by. A good bit of humour, pictures and cartoons.
on 14 February 2016
A series of one or two paragraph stories from motor racing mechanics on what life was like to go Grand Prix racing in 1960s and 70s, from the hours spent waiting at border controls, (pre E.E.C.), the 'all nighters', where they wake up on the wheel they were changing!, and the 'interesting' trucks used to transport their charges to the circuits. A goodly collection of photographs, mostly taken by the mechanics themselves, my favourite being of all the mechanics of all the teams at the 1964 Mexican G.P., all 28 of them. A really enjoyable read, that is highly recommended for everyone not just motor racing 'buffs'. Forty per cent of the royalties will be going to the Grand Prix Mechanics Charitable Trust, so by buying this book you will not get a rattling good read, but supporting a worthwhile charity.