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

Posted in Auto Racing, Books, Historic Auto Racing, Indianapolis 500, Photography, Uncategorized, Used Books, Vintage Auto Racing, Vintage Racing | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

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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.

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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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Vintage Racing Bookshelf: Review # 3

12 Hours of Sebring – 1970

By: Harry Hurst (text and photographs); Publish Date: 2004; 12 Hours of Sebring 35th Anniversary Edition, 1970-2005; Publisher: Hurst Communications Inc., Hardcover, 127 pages

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This publication of photographs and recollections is one of the most prized in all my auto racing/automotive book collection. 12 Hours of Sebring – 1970 by Harry Hurst encapsulates everything I enjoy about racing, photography, writing, and the experience of going to automobile races. It has even served as the inspiration and guide for how I wanted to style my blog.

Harry Hurst was a young track photographer at Sebring in 1970. That year he witnessed one of the most exciting races in Sebring history. It had everything; Porsche vs. Ferrari vs. Alfa vs. Matra, a roster of famed international drivers, and movie icon Steve McQueen. The race culminates with a frenzied finish, highlighted by Mario Andretti chasing down the ultimate underdog team of Peter Revson and McQueen for the win.

This collection of photographs and commentary captured that excitement, but also goes beyond to illustrate the depth and character of Sebring and of international sports car endurance racing. The photography is pure and powerful. The black and white images have been beautifully printed, with a deep palette of gray tones. The color photographs are rich and alive.

Sebring International Raceway is an iconic track. The 12 hours race has earned the prestige to be ranked alongside the 24 Hours of Le Mans as a true test of endurance for car and driver. I’ve had the privilege of attending the race on two occasions, 1986 and 2012. It’s my favorite endurance race of the year.

12 Hours of Sebring – 1970 clearly illustrates why I love attending auto-racing events. This behind-the-scenes portrayal is what I look for when I go to the races. It’s a masterful book, and I encourage everyone to include it in his or her collection.

TJ ….2020

Posted in Auto Racing, Books, Historic Auto Racing, Photography, Sebring, Sports Photography, Uncategorized, Used Books, Vintage Auto Racing, Vintage Racing, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Vintage Racing Bookshelf: Review # 2

From Indianapolis to Le Mans

By: Tommaso Tommasi; Publish Date (English Translation): 1974; Publisher: Derbi Books Inc., Hardcover, 239 pages

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Expanded dust cover (front and back), highlighting the photographs of David Phipps.

The second book in my review series is, From Indianapolis to Le Mans, by Tommaso Tommasi. I found this little gem while searching through a local used bookstore. It’s a clever overview of racing circuits, giving the reader a glimpse of the variety and complexity of challenges that drivers face from one venue to another. It places the racetrack at the center of attention, giving this element of a race weekend its proper due.

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Sample of the extraordinary illustrations (unattributed) featured throughout the book.

The book profiles ten legendary tracks from around the world, with selected driver impressions for each. They are: Brands Hatch (Emerson Fittipaldi), Buenos Aires (Carlos Reutemann), Indianapolis (Peter Revson), Kyalami (Denis Hulme), Le Mans (Francois Cevert), Monaco (Graham Hill), Monza (Andrea de Adamich), Nurburgring (Jacky Ickx), Spa-Francorchamps (Clay Regazzoni), and Watkins Glen (Ronnie Peterson). Included in each racetrack review is a two-page photography montage showing key points of each venue with comments from the driver. Following the ten reviews is a section entitled, ‘The World’s Circuits’, which shows the layout configuration of 102 racing circuits from around the world. I’ve always been intrigued by racetrack layout and design, each having their own character and distinct challenge. I find that modern day grand prix circuits have fallen into a cookie-cutter type of similarity. These legendary circuits have a distinct personality and character. This book explores those fascinating details. Finally, the last section, ‘The Major Races’, features a list of the winning cars from the ten highlighted tracks, accompanied by black & white illustrations of the winning cars.

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A two-page breakdown featuring the key points of each racing circuit accompanied the driver narratives. This lap of Brands Hatch (England) was described in detail by Emerson Fittipaldi.

There’s an apparent misprint on the cover of the book, indicating that racing legend Juan Manuel Fangio wrote the ‘Introduction’. Actually, he contributed his thoughts in the ‘Forward’ section. An attractive part of From Indianapolis to Le Mans involves numerous (unattributed) color and black & white illustrations. There are many included in the first chapter, ‘From Road to Track’, along with being featured graphics at the beginning of each chapter. They’re beautifully crafted and it’s a shame the artist was not recognized. Another highlight of the book are the many behind the scenes photographs by David Phipps. So many racing books focus on photographs of the drivers or cars, and rightfully so. But here the focus is on the capturing the character of each track. I was so pleased to see this perspective included in the book.

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One of my favorite sections of the book highlights 102 racing circuits from around the world. Each one has a distinct and individual character. I’ve often wondered what type of course configuration I would design.

It was such a pleasant surprise to find this book. The unique blend of history, driver narrative, with supporting photography and artwork provide an entertaining and comprehensive review of each legendary racing circuit. Two of these I’ve had the pleasure to of visiting many times; Indianapolis and Watkins Glen. I have my eyes on Brands Hatch and Monaco next. Enjoy!

TJ ….2020

Posted in Auto Racing, Books, Grand Prix, Historic Auto Racing, Photography, Sports Photography, Uncategorized, Used Books, Vintage Auto Racing, Vintage Racing, Watkins Glen, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Vintage Racing Bookshelf: Review # 1

What’s It Like Out There?

By: Mario Andretti with Bob Collins; Publish Date: 1970; Publisher: Henry Regnery Company (Chicago), Hardcover, 282 pages

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The first book in my review series is by the driver who I consider my “Number 1” sports hero, Mario Andretti. Mario came on to the national scene in the mid-1960’s and quickly established himself as a force to be reckoned with. As a young auto-racing fan I was fascinated by his personality and driving style while watching the races on television. He captured my imagination and I’ve been a life-long fan of his ever since.

After the 1969 season, Mario collaborated with writer Bob Collins, sports editor for the Indianapolis Star, to tell Mario’s amazing story, culminating with his 1969 Indy 500 win. What’s It Like Out There? was published 50 years ago, and this was my first reading of the book.  It chronicles Mario’s upbringing with his twin brother Aldo, and their love of cars. It talks about how the Andretti family endured life in war-torn Italy and the brutal aftermath of World War II. Mario’s father then made the brave decision to immigrate the family to the United States. Mario and Aldo then found themselves as teenagers in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. Little did they know that the move would open doors of opportunity that were only dreams until then.

The book describes their first racing exploits and Mario’s climb up the racing ladder, and then focuses on his top-line professional career from 1964-1969. Mario’s major achievements in that short span is phenomenal: 1969 Indianapolis 500 Winner; 1966 and 1967 Indianapolis 500 Pole Position; 1965 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year; 1965, 1966, and 1969 USAC National Champion; 1967 Daytona 500 Winner; and winner of the 12 Hours of Sebring with co-driver Bruce McLaren in 1967. That’s a whole career worth of success right there in six years. Amazing!

I’m glad I found this book to add to my vintage racing bookshelf. It’s refreshing to read about this portion of Mario’s career and in particular this era of auto racing from his perspective. It’s fresh, detailed, and comes from his heart. Bob Collins interjects his humorous flare that adds to an incredibly enjoyable read. I encourage you to read it yourself!

TJ ….2020

Posted in Auto Racing, Books, Historic Auto Racing, Photography, Sports Photography, Uncategorized, Vintage Auto Racing, Vintage Racing, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

TJ’s (ever-expanding) Auto Racing Library

Ever since my first visit to the International Motor Racing Research Center (IMRRC, Watkins Glen, NY) in 2013, I have been inspired to expand and grow my own, personal library of auto racing literature (books/magazines/programs/etc.).

At that point I already had a decent collection, but after seeing the vast and assorted holdings at IMRRC I decided to kick it up a notch and get serious. I began searching used books stores and antique shops in what I like to call my quest for “diamonds in the rough”. When I make a new discovery, it is certainly a great day!

Coming up in 2020 I plan to expand my blog to include reviews of these gems. But for now here’s a glimpse of some of my recent finds. Enjoy! …..TJ

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The Autobiography of Peter Revson, Speed With Style, by Peter Revson and Leon Mandel. Published by Doubleday & Company, Inc. (1974), 221 pages. What’s It Like Out There?, by Mario Andretti with Bob Collins. Published by Henry Regnery Company (1970), 282 pages.

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GRAHAM, by Graham Hill with Neil Ewart with a Forward by H.R.H. The Prince of Wales K.G., G.C.B. Published by St. Martin’s Press, Inc. (1976), 175 pages. Jackie Stewart: World Champion, by Jackie Stewart with Eric Dymock. Published by Henry Regnery Company (1970), 192 pages.

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Can’t leave out the paperbacks!! Jim Clark At The Wheel, By Jim Clark.  Published by Pocket Books (1966), 174 pages. All But My Life, by Sterling Moss with Ken. W. Purdy. Published by Bantan Books (1963), 181 pages.

Posted in Auto Racing, Books, Grand Prix, Historic Auto Racing, Photography, Sports Photography, Uncategorized, Used Books, Vintage Auto Racing, Vintage Racing, Watkins Glen, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment