Vintage Racing Bookshelf: Review # 12

DRIVEN: The Racing Photography of Jesse Alexander 1954-1962

By Jesse Alexander, Forward by Stirling Moss; Publish Date: 2000; Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC, Hardcover, 144 pages

The twelfth and final book review of the year captures the spectacle and spirit of Formula 1 and sports car racing through the lens of an expert photographer. DRIVEN: The Racing Photography of Jesse Alexander 1954-1962 covers a golden age of auto racing. Jesse Alexander’s personal connection with the racing community, his love of the cars, the people, and the thrilling atmosphere is masterfully presented through his masterful photography.

The book covers a particularly dangerous era of racing, and the images effectively convey the triumph and tragedy associated with risking it all. Portraits of Jim Clark, Louis Chiron, Piero Taruffi, Wolfgang von Trips, Phil Hill, Stirling Moss, etc. capture the toil and sweat of grueling competition. Photographs from historic tracks such as Monaco, Reims, Targa Florio, Nurburgring, Monza, Le Mans, etc. illustrate the unique variety of racetracks, each with their own character and potential deadly hazards. Photographs of on-track competition present a period of transition from rear engine Formula 1 cars to the current rear engine configuration. Safety features for that period were lacking by today’s standards, fueling the admiration of bravery and risk taken by the drivers.

DRIVEN: The Racing Photography of Jesse Alexander 1954-1962 is filled with impressively lush black and white photographs. The design layout is neat and simple and presents the photographs chronologically by year. The images stand-alone without text which allows the viewer to absorb and concentrate on the subject matter. The book concludes with a review section of thumbnail prints with an image-by-image description statement by Alexander, detailing the circumstances involved with each photograph.

I came across this book at an antique shop. It seemed out of place up on the dusty bookshelf, and I’m not sure the storekeeper knew exactly what he had because it was priced ridiculously low. I couldn’t believe my luck. It was in perfect condition, and I couldn’t pay for it fast enough. Sometimes the stars align, and you discover what I like to call ‘a diamond in the rough’! I like it when that happens! Let’s hope 2021 brings us all some good fortune, good health, and a positive step back towards normalcy. Happy New Year everyone!

TJ ….2020

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Vintage Racing Bookshelf: Review # 11

Car Badges of the World

By Tim Nicholson, illustrations by John (A.J.) Stokes; Publish Date: 1970; Publisher: American Heritage Press (New York), Hardcover, 137 pages

The eleventh book in my review series is one that could very well be categorized in the graphic art section of your local bookstore. Car Badges of the World is a neatly presented overview of worldwide car manufacturing logos, badges, and crests. The book was written by Tim Nicholson and beautifully illustrated by John (A.J.) Stokes.

The book is organized alphabetically by country, and then alphabetically by manufacturer within each country. Each double-page spread displays two car manufacturer graphic identities on the right with the corresponding descriptions on the left. Each description provides a brief historical perspective on the manufacturer with added insight into the concept and development of the graphic identity.

I marvel at the unique direction each manufacturer took to develop their look. The designs from this 1970 collection look much different from what we see on the road today. In the fifty years since Car Badges of the World was released, car manufacturer graphic identity badges have become more refined and, in many ways, rather abstract. Yet, for car brands such as Porsche, BMW, Ford, Chevrolet, Aston Martin, Bentley, Rolls Royce, Mercedes Benz, Alfa Romeo, and Ferrari, the evolution has been much more subtle, keeping their iconic brand identity intact.

I am so glad that I came across this book. One brief glance through the pages told me that it was meant for my collection. I love it when that happens!

TJ ….2020

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Vintage Racing Bookshelf: Review # 10

The Little Auto

By Lois Lenski; Publish Date: 1934, this edition published in 1946; Publisher: Oxford University Press, Hardcover, 48 pages


During the process of collecting vintage automotive/motor racing books it’s not uncommon to come across a range of books written for children. But it’s a special day to come across an old classic. The tenth book in my review series is a gem! The Little Auto by Lois Lenski is a charming story about Mr. Small and his little Auto. It also serves as a basic introduction to the automobile for children, illustrating the responsibility and care of the little Auto.

For most children their family automobile is just a means of travel to school or other family activity. The care and function of an automobile is not of their concern and is sometimes a mystery. This book serves as a simple introduction to the joy and satisfaction an automobile brings to people. It also rightly highlights the responsibility involved with its care and upkeep.

Mr. Small is shown taking care of the little Auto by changing the oil, pumping up the tires, putting water in the radiator, taking a drive, tooting the horn as a warning to some ducks and chickens, going up and down hills, obeying the traffic signals and signs, changing a flat tire, and finally a wash and wax. Mr. Small loves the experience of owning and caring for his little Auto. The story is a wonderful lesson of taking responsibility for something so important and special.

The book was produced by world renown author and illustrator Lois Lenski. Throughout her amazing career the Mr. Small series of books may well be the most beloved. The illustrations showcase her distinctive signature style, and the layout of the book is punctuated by simple and informative storytelling.

The Little Auto sits proudly on my bookcase shelves alongside books on Formula 1, Le Mans, Indianapolis, and countless biographies. The story of automobiles starts somewhere…Mr. Small does that so well.

TJ ….2020

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Vintage Racing Bookshelf: Review # 9

Grand Prix Racers – Portraits of Speed

Photography by Bernard and Paul-Henri Cahier, text by Xavier Chimits; Publish Date: 2008; Publisher: Motorbooks/MBI Publishing Company (Minneapolis), Hardback, 224 pages

The ninth book in my review series is Grand Prix Racers – Portraits of Speed. This is a beautiful collection of black and white photography by Bernard Cahier and his son Paul-Henri. The Cahier family has chronicled the Formula One World Championship since its inaugural race at Silverstone, England, in 1950.

The images were chosen to represent each period of Formula 1. The book is organized in six sections, determined by the drivers’ shared personality and driving traits. There are 12 drivers in each section for a total of 72 in the study. It’s a fascinating presentation capturing the personality, focus, magnetism, determination, and elusive character of a Formula 1 Grand Prix driver. Their unique make-up of talent and skill defines their inclusion in this “elite brotherhood”.

Some of my favorite images are as follows…The Stylists: a close-up of Jim Clark with the impression of his goggles still visible on his cheeks and forehead; The Tenacious Ones: a photographic composition of Jo Siffert, with his distinctive helmet, navigating a high-speed corner; The Romantics: the carefree nature and expression of Mike Hawthorn; The Scientists: the grizzled look of Stirling Moss post-race, leaning on his car with a soda; The Acrobats: a portrait that captures the air of nobility and confidence of Wolfgang von Trips; and The Tough Ones: a candid photograph of Denny Hulme with a flower in his mouth.

Grand Prix Racers captures the power of black and white photography. This collection of portraiture serves as an inspiration for any photographer hoping to capture the essence of their subject. I encourage everyone to include it in their collection.

TJ ….2020

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Vintage Racing Bookshelf: Review # 8

Jim Clark at the wheel: The world motor racing champion’s own story

By Jim Clark; Publish Date: 1966; Publisher: Pocket Books/Simon & Schuster (New York), Paperback, 174 pages

The eighth book in my review series is Jim Clark at the wheel, by World Champion Jim Clark. Written at the time he was reaching the pinnacle of the sport, Clark tells the story of his beginnings on the family farm in Fife, Scotland, then climbing through the various levels of racing to ultimately becoming an international grand prix champion.

Jim Clark writes in-depth about his relationship with constructor and Lotus team owner, Colin Chapman. He also discusses his personal philosophy and approach to driving. Clark’s legacy is that of a precise, tactical, and measured driver. His level of success and achievements have consistently placed him in the conversation about who is the greatest Formula 1 driver ever.

The book chronicles Clark’s F1 career up through his 1963 World Championship. He also discusses his fascination with racing in America, and his exploits at Indianapolis. He finished 2nd in 1963 to Parnelli Jones in a somewhat controversial finish but left his mark by claiming rookie of the year honors. A publisher’s note at the end of the final chapter, just prior to the book’s release, lists Clark’s 1965 Indianapolis 500 win and 2nd F1 World Championship. 

I found the most fascinating part of the book was his first-hand account of the 1961 accident at Monza which killed Ferrari driver Wolfgang von Trips. Not only had Clark been involved in the 2-car fatal crash of a friend, but he also had to endure the chaotic aftermath in which Italian officials were determined to place blame. The incident and legal inquiry led him to question the risks involved with racing and possibly leave the sport. Clark overcame these challenges and never lost belief in himself and his abilities. 

The book concludes with an appendix of statistics outlining his full driving record, achievements, and awards. It’s an impressive twenty-two pages of greatness.

Finally, I have to make mention of the cover art illustration for this book. It’s simply stunning. I was surprised that there was no attribution to the artist or a listing of a name. I could see a print of that beautiful cover art nicely framed and mounted someday on my office wall. The search continues!

Jim Clark at the wheel was written years before his untimely death in 1968. It’s a personal account of his ongoing career, along with thoughts on his driving style and approach to racing. I had this book years ago as a kid and was delighted to find another copy during one of my used bookstore searches. It’s a great book and deserves a place in any motor racing enthusiast’s library.

TJ ….2020

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Vintage Racing Bookshelf: Review # 7

The Guinness Guide to International Motor Racing – A Complete Reference from Formula 1 to Touring Cars

By Peter Higham; Publish Date: 1995; Publisher: Motorbooks International Publishers & Wholesalers. (USA edition), Hardcover, 544 pages


The seventh book in my review series is The Guinness Guide to International Motor Racing by Peter Higham. This was his first of many Formula 1/racing anthology books, and his attention to detail is impressive. I purchased the book shortly after it was released. Though there are countless other books from various authors that chronicle racing statistics and season reviews, this one seemed to have just the right mix of facts, statistics, photographs, diagrams, and biographical data to keep me captivated for long periods of time. And because of that it’s one of my go-to books I take with me while traveling.

This is an incredible collection of information on a range of racing series, to include: Formula 1, pre-war grand prix racing, Le Mans 24 Hours, Sports Cars World Championship, Indianapolis 500, IndyCar, Can-Am, along with a whole host of other series and topics. Once you start to peruse the large volume of data held within it’s impossible to put it down. Every section presents a new surprise or new aspect of the sport I never considered before.

Near the end of the grand prix racing review there’s a fascinating section that provides incredible detail about the many World Championship Grand Prix Manufacturers, ranging from AFM (Alex von Falkenhausen Motorenbau) to Zakspeed. Some manufacturers barely stayed around long enough for a cup of coffee, while others listed are the revered grand names in racing history. For example, AFM is listed to have competed in four grand prix, with the best result of 14th in the 1953 Italian GP with legendary driver Hans Stuck. The Zakspeed mark is credited with 53 grand prix started, with the best result of 5th in the 1987 San Marino GP with driver Martin Brundle. For a fun comparison and contrast, Ferrari has an amazing 536 starts, with wins by 30 different drivers.

There’s a chapter entitled Racing Around The World, which focuses on 33 countries with diagrams and various configurations of 130 different racetracks. For example, the Silverstone Circuit in England, originally a World War II bomber airfield for the RAF is shown to have evolved through six different variations from 1949 onward. The Circuit de la Sarthe, better known as Le Mans is illustrated through five course configurations dating from 1921. Each of these track evolutions is described with interesting facts and details.

The final section, Drivers A-Z, highlights the major achievements of 1,587 drivers, from Rauno Aaltonen (Finland, DOB January 17, 1938) to Ricardo Zunino (Argentina, DOB April 13, 1949). “Mr. Le Mans” Tom Kristensen (Denmark, DOB July 7, 1967) is listed as having won the 1991 German F3 Championship and the 1993 Japanese F3 Championship. One has to smile and remember that books such as these are like time capsules. History had not yet caught up with Kristensen’s staggering record of nine wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

I am so glad that The Guinness Guide to International Motor Racing is part of my book collection. It doesn’t seem to stay on the shelf for long before it’s back on the side table, once again easily accessible for race-day reference. It has never failed to provide me with countless hours of enjoyment, and I’m sure will continue to do so long into the future.

TJ ….2020

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Vintage Racing Bookshelf: Review # 6

Moments That Made Racing History (Modern Sports Car Series)

By Rodney Walkerley; Publish Date: 1959; Publisher: Sports Car Press LTD. (New York), Hardcover, 111 pages

Version 2

The sixth book in my review series, Moments That Made Racing History by Rodney Walkerley, was found in the window display of a small antique store I was visiting for the first time. It caught my eye immediately, and was clearly a case in which you COULD judge a book by its cover. Something just told me this was the style of book I had been looking for, and I was right.

The book features a collection of stories that chronicle nine race events in which a crucial and decisive moment marked its place in motor racing history. Motor racing journalist and former Sports Editor of The Motor magazine, Rodney Walkerley, gives an enlightened and entertaining account of these memorable events, which include: 1902 Gordon-Bennett Trophy (Paris to Innsbruck), 1933 Tourist Trophy (Ards Circuit, Northern Ireland), 1936 J.C.C International Trophy (Brooklands, England), 1947 Land Speed Record (Bonneville, United States), 1937 Donington Grand Prix (Donington, England), 1949 Grand Prix of France (Rheims, France), 1957 Grand Prix of Europe (Aintree Circuit, Merseyside, England), 1951 International Trophy (Silverstone, England), and the 1957 German Grand Prix (Nurburgring, Germany).

Virtually all of the events described in the book were new to me and I was captivated by the flavor and style of Walkerley’s vivid race descriptions. I was very familiar with the final story, as it told of the heroic drive by Juan Manuel Fangio at the Nurburgring in 1957; a gripping tale of his tenacity and will to win, driving his car beyond the limits thought possible for the treacherous 14-mile German circuit. He famously stated afterwards, “I will never drive like that again”. This performance is one reason why many consider Fangio to be the greatest driver of all-time.

The exciting stories in the book are also accompanied by numerous historical photographs, and handsomely crafted illustrations (see cover photo) by George Lane, long-time artist for The Motor magazine, from the 1930’s through to the 1960’s.

Moments That Made Racing History has inspired me to learn more about historic racetracks such as Brooklands and Rheims, along with rekindling my fascination with the history of the land speed record. For being only 111 pages, this beautifully illustrated book is packed with racing drama and excitement. Proof positive that you CAN judge a book by its cover.

TJ ….2020


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Vintage Racing Bookshelf: Review # 5

A.J. – The Life of America’s Greatest Race Car Driver

By A.J. Foyt with William Neely; Publish Date: 1983; Publisher: Times Books, Hardcover, 234 pages

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It’s Memorial Day Sunday 2020, and for as long as I can remember I’ve planned my weekend, and this day in particular around the Indy 500. It’s something my lovely wife has accepted and put up with over the years. But this year feels a bit hollow and empty knowing that the greatest race in the world has been postponed…not for a day or two because of rain, but because of the Covid-19 Pandemic. It’s crazy and uncertain times we live in for sure.

That being said I felt that the fifth book in my review series should honor the Memorial Day classic, so I’ve chosen A.J. – The Life of America’s Greatest Race Car Driver, by A.J. Foyt with William Neely.  The name A.J. Foyt is synonymous with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indy 500. He was the first of the 4-time winners of the race. Drivers Al Unser Sr. and Rick Mears later joined that exclusive club. A.J. Foyt also holds the distinction of being the last person to win the race in a front-engine roadster, and is the only driver to win the Indy 500 in both styles of car (Front engine roadster: 1961 and 1964, rear-engine: 1967, 1977).

This is a unique autobiography, in that it does not chronicle in detail his numerous race wins and championships, but instead focuses mainly on what it took to achieve these successes. A.J. Foyt tells us about his family, the relationship with his father, his determination to win and his undying competitiveness. The reader is swept through the book with his numerous and often humorous anecdotal stories, describing what life was like on the climb to the top. What is abundantly clear is that A.J. Foyt was relentless in his pursuit of wins, championships and the ultimate prize, the Indianapolis 500.

I was fortunate to see four Indy 500 races in the 80’s (1980-1983). Though A.J. Foyt did not win any of those, he received by far the loudest and most lasting applause during the pre-race introductions. He sat on the outside of the front row in 1981 and 1982. It was a thrill to be able to see him race at the famed speedway.

I highly recommend A.J. – The Life of America’s Greatest Race Car Driver.  It’s a clear and candid portrait of a racer driven to achieve greatness. I’m so glad I found this book at my local used book warehouse. I knew my collection wouldn’t be complete unless it included a book about the one and only A.J. Foyt.

TJ ….2020

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Vintage Racing Bookshelf: Review # 4

Racing Colours: Motor Racing Compositions 1908 – 2009

By: Simon Owen; Publish Date: 2014; Publisher: Veloce Publishing, Hardcover, 192 pages

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The fourth book in my review series, Racing Colours by Simon Owen, is one that could easily be categorized in the art section of your favorite bookstore, as well as having a rightful place in the automobile racing section. Simon Owen (artist and racing enthusiast) has created a beautiful and detailed study of automobile racing livery design. Each piece of artwork in this collection focuses on the interesting mix of color, design, car structure detail, and the unique variety of font used for the car numbers on some of the most iconic racecars throughout history.

Racing Colours is the type of book I’ve been always looking for, and when I found it, knew it had to be part of my collection. My fascination with auto racing certainly centers on the sport and it’s personalities, but my earliest and lasting love has been for the design and aesthetics of the cars. Each car study is paired with quotes that relate to the car/driver/team depicted in the piece. The layout of the book is simple, yet elegant in its straightforward approach to present each work of art.

Legendary cars and liveries featured in the book include the Gulf Porsche 917K (Michael Delaney aka Steve McQueen), Sunoco Lola T70 (Mark Donohue and Chuck Parsons), and the Martini Brabham BT45 (Carlos Pace). Vintage images included classics such as the Gordini T24S (Jean Behra), Panhard-Levassor GP (Henri Farman), and Lancia D24 (Piero Taruffi).

An added feature that closes out the book is entitled, The Process. Here the reader is able to see various thumbnail sketches that Simon Owen prepared during his research of the cars. Each sketch shows detailed measurements, photographs used for reference, and comments as he worked out plans for each piece. The Forward to the book, written by his father (David E. Owen), notes that Simon abandoned his early watercolor medium for this project in favor of a newer, more contemporary medium, that being digital, as he created each piece on his Apple Mac computer. The results are stunning!

Simon Owen finished preparation for the publication of his book before his untimely passing at an early age. His family then drove the project over the finish line. The result is worthy of a champion. I treasure this book and encourage you to include it in your auto racing book collection.

TJ ….2020

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Sebring – An iconic race…an iconic place

As a follow-up to my most recent book review, I just wanted to say a few words about the 12 Hours of Sebring and Sebring International Raceway. It’s a world-renowned endurance race and an internationally revered racetrack. So, when I moved to Florida in 1984 I knew I had to see it and experience it for myself.


Bob Akin/Hans-Joachim Stuck/Jo Gartner, Porsche 962, Bob Akin Motor Racing

I was able to attend the12 Hours of Sebring in 1986. The Coca-Cola sponsored Porsche 962 driven by Bob Akin, Hans-Joachim Stuck, and Jo Gartner handily won the race by six laps. I had never witnessed cars race into the night, with headlights blazing, and exhaust flames stabbing the darkness. It was amazing…an unforgettable experience! Little did I know that this would be the only time I could attend the race before moving to Washington DC in 1990.


Tom Kristensen/Rinaldo Capello/Allan McNish, Audi R18 TDI (Diesel), Audi Sport Team Joest

My next opportunity came in 2012. It was noteworthy for being the 60th Anniversary of the 12 Hours race, featuring a field of competitors that combined the American Le Mans Series and FIA World Endurance Championship. This was the first ever event for the new WEC series. The overall winner of the race was the Audi R18 TDI (Diesel) driven by Tom Kristensen, Rinaldo Capello, and Allan McNish.

Those were great memories and I hope to attend more 12 Hours of Sebring races in the future. Who knows, maybe this year (2020) is still in play. Due to the Coronavirus (Covid-19) the race was postponed until November. It would be the 50th anniversary of the 1970 race, so impressively captured in the book by Harry Hurst, 12 Hours of Sebring – 1970.

TJ ….2020

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