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Ken Tyrrell: The Authorised Biography Hardcover – 21 Oct 2002
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‘He was one of Formula 1’s greatest figures and was truly loved for the passion he brought to the sport’ Martin Brundle
From the Back Cover
Despite many requests, Ken Tyrrell would never agree to publishing his autobiography. 'People would not be interested,' he said. The subsequent fulsome obituaries and massive turnout at his memorial service after his death in October 2001 indicated otherwise.
Tyrrell was held in high regard across the motor racing community. His biography, written by leading motor racing journalist Maurice Hamilton and with the blessing of his family, provides an excellent expose of the man himself, and an intriguing insight into the drama and excitement of the world of Formula 1.
The former timber merchant arrived late on the F1 scene at the age of 28. Early successes in the 1950s were followed by a move into team management, where he scraped and scrounged the money to build his own F1 team. His biographer charts Tyrrell's dramatic debut, how he persuaded a young Jackie Stewart to join his new team, a triumphant World Championship win in only their second season, and how the car, with Stewart at the wheel, went on to win 25 grands prix for the team.
The book goes behind the scenes at the team HQ in Surrey, where Tyrrell built his prototype six-wheeled F1 car under cloak-and-dagger secrecy. It examines Tyrrell's relationship with drivers such as Jody Scheckter, Ronnie Peterson and Stewart, and his vital role in the development of the sport. And it delves into the murkier side of F1 – the politics, the battles between the have's and the have-nots – as well as Tyrrell's moving battle against the cancer that eventually took his life.See all Product description
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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.
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