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The book Ken didn't want to happen...,
This review is from: Ken Tyrrell: The Authorised Biography (Hardcover)
Ken Tyrrell always said that he didn't want a biography; he didn't feel he'd achieved much... typical of his modesty, his achievements included masterminding all three of Jackie Stewart's world championships, discovering Francois Cevert, Jean Alesi, Michele Alboreto and many other F1 stars, becoming a Grand Prix constructor almost against his own will, introducing the first six-wheel Grand Prix car, and keeping his team running through thick and thin from the 1960s to the 1990s.
By any standards they're achievements to be proud of and Ken's family and Maurice Hamilton decided after his death that it was time to write it all down.
Ken was from a working-class background; didn't even see motor racing until the 1950s when his football team went to watch a race meeting. He decided that he could probably do as well as some of the 500cc F3 drivers, and scrimped and saved to get into racing. He eventually decided that he'd reached his natural level as a driver and moved over to the management side of things, running F2, FJunior and F3 teams, and later also Mini Coopers.
An early signing was a promising young Scottish club racer, one John Young Stewart. Jackie soon became an integral part of the Tyrrell story, almost part of the family. Family's another important theme in this book - Ken's immensely strong relationship with Norah Tyrrell and his sons Bob and Kenneth is described as an essential part of how Tyrrell fitted together as a team.
The team, run from his lumber yard at Ockham, became a force to reckon with in the minor formulae - he soon attracted the attention of French aerospace firm Matra. Ken ran Formula Two cars for them, and graduated to Formula One (he'd already stood in for John Cooper when he was injured) with Cosworth-engined Matras (while Matra themselves ran cars with their own BRM-inspired V12). The Tyrrell/Matra/Stewart/Ford combination delivered its first Championship in 1969 - but Matra wanted the success to continue with their V12. Stewart was intransigent; he had to keep his Cosworth. So Tyrrell bought customer Marches for 1970 and in secret built the 001. The new car and its descendents brought the team another two World Championships, but in 1973 it was hit by two blows - Jackie Stewart decided to retire, and Francois Cevert was killed.
Tyrrell never scaled those heights again. The team gradually slipped down the grids through the 70s and early 80s, from championship contenders to lucky winners (arguably losing their way with the legendary six-wheeler, the story of which is told in full here).
The team's nadir was 1984, when they were excluded from the championship on fairly shaky grounds. Ken fought hard against this and fought back, the team re-establishing itself as a steady midfield challenger (and enjoying the odd spectacular result with Jean Alesi) but it was obvious that without a major sponsor and a works engine deal its glory days were over and the team's last few years were a steady and rather depressing decline. The racing story ends with the flash, brash BAR outfit - the antithesis of everything Tyrrell stood for - buying out the team and forcing Ken's departure.
The book ends with Ken's courageous battle against the cancer that claimed his life.
This is a human, humane, perceptive and detailed biography of one of the last gentlemen in Formula One, an immensely respected figure who was a true inspiration and leader.