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Volume 1


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by Gerald Donaldson

The main purpose of the Book of the Month column is to bring quality books to the attention of readers out there who are interested in building a library of books relating to, but not limited to, Grand Prix History. I will only include those books that I can honestly recommend.

The first book reviewed is actually not a history book but actually a contemporary (1990) chronicle of the Formula 1 "circus". I found this book on the "sale" stack of the Chater's Motoring Booksellers booth at the British Grand Prix recently. What do they say about one man's garbage..? Grand Prix People is its title and it is published by Motor Racing Publications Ltd. Gerald Donaldson, the author, is well known for his previous book titled Gilles Villeneuve: The Life of the Legendary Racing Driver. This book is the result of spending a year walking through the pit lane, pressroom and paddock and talking to the people at the heart of Grand Prix Racing. The book contains 110 first person accounts of what living in this circus we call Formula 1 is really like. The accounts range from half a page to 10 pages in length.

While I thoroughly enjoyed this book and feel that it is a welcome addition to my library I do have a couple of problems with its content and organization. The first problem concerns the selection of personalities included in this book. The author has included only 6 active drivers in comparison to there being 47 members of the press! Whether this is due to his feeling more comfortable amongst his peers or the fact that few other drivers had anything useful to say is unknown. I would have appreciated the addition of Martin Brundle and Gerhard Berger into this mix. My other problem concerns how this book is organized. The personalities were organized into one of three groups depending on where they might be found on race day. Rather than resorting to such strict divisions the book might have been better served by having the articles organized around themes such as the life of a mechanic, personal anecdotes, commercialism in Formula 1 or a drivers view of danger and his own mortality.

Criticisms aside the advantage of a book of this nature this is similar to eating all appetizers for dinner in that you can pick and choose. In this book there is much to choose from. There are remembrances of some of the participants who have been involved in the Formula 1 World Championships since its beginning in 1950. All the drivers complain about the politics and infighting in Formula 1 while their mechanics talk about their relationships with the mechanics from the other teams and the friendly competition. Another interesting sidelight is the fact that this book was published in 1990 and you can see how some of these drivers developed. Ricardo Patrese a popular elder statesman when he retired was considered dangerously aggressive when he was starting out, even being banned from one race in the face of a threatened driver boycott. This was a result of being unfairly blamed for the death of Ronnie Peterson at Monza in 1978. Ironic parallels can be drawn from the four years Patrese had to wait while the Italian courts deliberated his guilt or innocence. Nigel Mansell at the top of his game unable to mask his inferiority complex would announce his (temporary) retirement. Ayrton Senna gives a remarkable description of his qualifying attempt for the 1988 Monte Carlo GP and once again we are reminded of what we have lost.

In conclusion this is a valuable book which will help the reader gain some insight into the personalities that make up Formula 1.

Other Book Reviews

The British Racing Hero
Colin Chapman: The Man and his Cars
The Chequered Flag
Jim Clark: Tribute to a Champion
My Father Mr. Mercedes
The Grand Prix Champions
Grand Prix People
The Legendary Years
Conte Maggi's Mille Miglia
Stirling Moss's Motor Racing Masterpieces
Motor Racing Through the Fifties
My Two Lives - Rene Dreyfus

Books from the Grand Prix History Library

100 Years of the Automobile by Marco Ruis and others
Alfa Romeo la Monaposto Tipo A del 1931 by Luigi Fusi
Alf Francis - Racing Mechanic 1948-58 as told to Peter Lewis
American Grand Prix Racing by Tim Considine
Anatomy of Speed
by Terry Jackson
A Racing Car Driver's World
by Rudolf Caracciola
Automobile Quarterly - (Various volumes)
Auto Union Racing Cars 1934-1939
Ayrton Senna
by Ivan Rendall
Ayrton Senna's Principles of Race Driving
by Ayrton Senna
Berlin Diary
by William Shirer
Book of Chronologies
by Bruce Wetterau
British Grand Prix
by Richard Hough
Bruce McLaren
by Eoin Young
Case History
by Smith
Champion Year
by Mike Hawthorn
Colin Chapman - The Man And His Cars
by Jabby Crombac
Dick Seaman - A racing Champion
by H.R.H. Prince Chula Chakrabongse
Enzo Ferrari - 50 Years of Motoring
by Piero Casucci
Famous Motor Races
by Rodney Walkerley
Ferrari … a dream born in snow
by Roberto Boccafogli
Fifty Year of Ferrari
by Alan Henry
Francorchamps 1948-1960
by Jean-Paul Delsaux
Frank Williams
by Maurice Hamilton
Gentlemen, Start Your Engines
by Wilbur Shaw
Grand Prix Circuits
by Alan Henry
Grand Prix People
by Gerald Donaldson
Grand Prix - The Complete Guide by Trevor R. Griffiths
Grand Prix Tripoli 1925-1940
by Valerio Moretti
Great Auto Races
by Richard Hough
Gurney's Eagles
by Karl Ludvigsen
History of the Grand Prix 1945-65
by Doug Nye
History of the Grand Prix 1966-91
by Doug Nye
How to Watch Motor Racing
by Stirling Moss
Italo Balbo - A Fascist Life by Claudio G. Segrè
Jenks: A passion for Motor Sport
by Denis Jenkinson
Jim Clark: Tribute to a Champion
by Eric Dymock
Jody (Scheckter) an Autobiography
by Himself
John Surtees - World Champion
by Himself
Life at the Limit
- by Professor Sid Watkins
Life in the Pit Lane
by Steve Matchett
Maserati 250F - A Technical Appraisal by Andy Hall
McLaren - The Epic Years
by Alan Henry
Mercedes Benz - Grand Prix Racing 1934-1955
by George Monkhouse
Mercedes Grand Prix Ace
by Rudolf Caracciola
Michael Schumacher
by Derick Allsop
Moments that made Racing History
by Rodney Walkerley
Monaco Grand Prix - Portrait of a Pageant
by Brown, Newman & Hewitt
Motor Racing Masterpieces
by Stirling Moss
Motor Racing Through the Fifties
by Peter Lewis
Motor Racing with Mercedes Benz
by George Monkhouse
My Cars,My Career
by Stirling Moss
My Father Mr Mercedes by Guy Jellinek Mercedes
My Two Lives
by Rene Dreyfus
Pole Position by the BRDC
Porsche - the Man and his Cars by Richard von Frankenberg
Pole Position by the BRDC
Portrait of the 60's by Rainer W. Schlegelmilch
Pursuit of Victory by Karl Kling
Racing Cars by Piero Casucci
Racing & Sports Car Chassis Design by Michael Costin and David Phipps
Racing Stewart by Maurice Hamilton
Racing the Silver Arrows by Chris Nixon
Rosemeyer! by Elly Beinhorn and Chris Nixon
Schumacher by Timothy Collings
Speed was my Life by Alfred Neubauer
Sports Car and Competition Driving by Paul Frere
Team Lotus - The Indianapolis Years by Andrew Ferguson
Technology of the F1 Car by Nigel MacKnight
The Art and Science of Grand Prix Driving by Niki Lauda
The Automobile - The First Century by Wise, Boddy and Laban
The British Racing Hero by Derick Allsop
The Complete History of Grand Prix Motor Racing by Adriano Cimarosti
The Encyclopedia of Motor Sport by GN Georgano
The Four Wheel Drives by Alan Henry
The German Grand Prix by Cyril Posthumas
The Grand Prix Car 1954 to 1966 by L. J. K. Setright
The Grand Prix Mercedes-Benz Type W125, 1937 by Denis Jenkinson
The History of the Grands Prix of Monaco 1929-1980 (CD) Vol. 1
by IMD
The History of the Racing Car by Giovanni Lurani
The Illustrated Evolution of the Grand Prix & F1 Car by Simon Read
The Legend of Formula 1 (CD) by Cine Television Team (CTT)
The Legendary Years by Louis Stanley
The Man with Two Shadows by Kevin Desmond
The Nightmare Years by Bill Shire
The Power and Glory by Ivan Rendall
The Racing Driver by Denis Jenkinson
The Science of Speed by David Tremayne
The Star and The Laurel by Beverly Rae Kimes
The Technique of Motor Racing by Piero Taruffi
The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Formula One by Bruce Jones
The Viking Drivers by Fredrik Petersens
The World of Racing Cars by Eric Dymock
Vanwall - A Technical Appraisal by Ian Bamsey
When Nuvolari Raced ... by Valerio Moretti
When the Flag Drops by Jack Brabham
Williams - The Business of Grand Prix Racing
by Alan Henry