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Volume 2


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by Peter Lewis

This small (152 pages, 12 chapters) book is comprised of a series of race chronicles spanning the years 1953-1959. It covers in the words of the author ... A decade in the history of motor racing Juan-Manuel Fangio, known affectionately as "bandy legs", won the World Championships five times, and when British drivers like Mike Hawthorn, Stirling Moss, Peter Collins and Tony Brooks emerged to challenge the Italians and Argentineans who had dominated the Grand Prix scene since the end of World War 2.

While the book pays special attention to the leading British drivers he treats drivers from other nations with the respect that they deserve. In fact an important facet of the first decade after the Second World War was England's emergence in the sport that spearheaded the efforts of the nations of the British Commonwealth that would dominate racing in the 60's and 70's. Chapter 7 of the book entitled "Sensation at Syracuse" tells of Tony Brooks' win in 1955 driving a British designed and built Connaught, the first victory of its kind. The writing gives the reader the sense of being there and partaking in the astonishment of this most improbable win.

The first practice session on Friday was well under way, yet the transporter carrying the Connaught teams cars was nowhere to be seen. This forced the British teammates, Brooks and Les Leston to reconnoiter the circuit on borrowed Vespa motor scooters which was not exactly conducive to finding the correct racing line or late breaking points! A more inauspicious beginning to a remarkable weekend could not have been written. Tony Brooks a full-time dental student and part-time driver had only been racing for less than three years. Arrayed against them were nine Maseratis and various Ferraris and Gordinis. The Maserati was led by a pair of Italian aces Musso and Villoresi who were turning in lap times of nearly 100 mph. On Saturday the Connaught teams cars finally arrived from England. The Italians were secure in their belief that their Friday times were sufficient to award them the leading positions on the grid and were only running sporadically. Brooks after some familiarization laps soon got down to business. Suddenly the loudspeakers announced the unbelievable news that the young dental student had recorded the fastest time of the session. Upon hearing this the Maserati engines burst to life, the whole team rose to the challenge of this brash young driver. The final grid showed Musso on the pole followed by Villoresi and Brooks. Since this was a non-championship event, missing were such top drivers as Moss and Fangio. This did not in any way diminish the accomplishment of the small British team.

At the drop of the flag the Maseratis surged into the lead. rather than become discouraged Brooks pressed on and soon passed Villoresi into second place. When he passed the leading Maserati of Musso the Italian tried every trick that he knew to regain the lead. Finally getting by he lost the lead again on the next lap. Both cars were turning laps faster than those run during qualifying. The Maserati could out break the Connaught at the hairpin but in doing so was dangerously abusing its breaks. Musso could not have been pleased when the Connaught was able to match his 150 mph on the straighter pieces. Eventually, the British car was able to draw away. Now the question was could the Connaught maintain this torrid pace. When the checkered flag finally flew the Connaught pit crew erupted in jubilation. Musso was one of the first to congratulate the quite unassuming young dental student.

Other chapters include the disaster at Le Mans in 1955, Moss' great victory in the Mille Miglia, Fangio's victory at Nurburgring over Hawthorn and Collins and what was known as the "Race of the Century" at Rheims. Each race is a legend in its own right and all are described in an excellent reporting style as if gleamed from the very best newspapers of the day which in fact they were by a writer who witnessed each one in person. As you can probably guess this is one of my favorite books which unfortunately is out of print. It should be found in one of the specialized motoring book stores in England such as Chater's Motoring Booksellers.

Lewis, Peter. "Motor Racing Through the Fifties". Navel & Military Press, 1992, 152pp., ISBN 1-897632-15-0


by Mary Schnall Heglar

Discovering interesting books in unlikely places has long been my adult substitute for waking up to toys under the tree on Christmas morning (once at a library used-book sale I discovered an official NASA astronaut flight manual for Apollo 12's Saturn rocket). On a Saturday in the late 1970s, while scouring a couple of chain bookstores in Dallas' Northpark Mall, I stumbled upon a Road & Track book called "The Grand Prix Champions." Northpark was then and remains today the archetypal swank, big-city shopping mall. I had hardly expected to run across a book on Formula 1. However the artsy, color jacket photo of Jochen Rindt taking a corner in his Lotus 72 (it was one of those photos snapped while the lens was being zoomed that used to be in vogue) immediately captured my attention and I snatched up the book. My find proved to have value. Its title not withstanding, it is concerned not with Grand Prix champions in general, but rather Formula 1 champions since 1950 (European Grand Prix championships were awarded prior to 1950). Its format is a chapter on each champion plus one on Stirling Moss. The author, Mary Schnall Heglar, is described as a motor racing journalist from San Francisco. I have run across nothing that she has written other than this book. But even if it represents the total significance of her contribution to the racing literature, then that contribution is worthy of note. The book is an interesting conglomeration of name-dropping, mildly gossipy personal info, and good, solid racing history. Thus the reader can find out that the author is buddies with the likes of Moss and Phil Hill; that Jim Clark, despite his shyness, did have girlfriends; and that Rindt came close to having an F1 team of his own. Heglar is obviously knowledgeable concerning her material, and seems to have invested a considerable amount of time in research. Even serious students of motor racing history are likely to learn a few things that they do not already know. Her writing has the increasingly rare virtues (especially among journalists) of clarity and syntactical accuracy, making this a very readable volume. Motor racing has a way of inspiring some writers to amazingly melodramatic prose. Heglar's book contains a bit of this, but not enough to be distracting. In her introduction she attempts to delve into questions concerning the philosophy of motor racing and why drivers risk their lives. Predictably, she meets with no more success than the many writers who have trod this path before her. Curiously the book has no celebrity forward or preface (a Benetton mechanic got Schumacher to forward his recent book). Drivers are covered from Farina through Fittipaldi (his first championship), and the admirable collection of stats at the end of the book runs from 1950 through the race at South Africa in 1973. At 234 pages the book is long enough to do its subjects justice. The book has other virtues. Figures yet to achieve their fame when it was published find mention. Lauda and Ecclestone are two of these. This is not a coffee table book. It is well illustrated with photographs from R&T's archives, but there is no color save for the dust jacket (the back of the jacket has another zoom photo, this one of Fittipaldi in his black and gold John Player 72). The B&W portrait photos of the drivers that open each chapter are by-and-large excellent. The decision to include a chapter on Moss was well-taken. His was a truly unique career. No driver since 1950 has come close to achieving his level of success while simultaneously not winning a championship (although Mansell put in a yeoman effort at it). He certainly deserves a place in a book on F1 champions. If one doesn't mind the extraneous stuff and can find the book somewhere, then "The Grand Prix Champions" would certainly make a useful addition to any racing library.

Review provided by Robert W. Butsch

Heglar, Mary Schnall. "The Grand Prix Champions". Bond Parkhurst Books, 1973, 234 pp., ISBN 0-87880-014 X.

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