From Indianapolis to Le Mans
By: Tommaso Tommasi; Publish Date (English Translation): 1974; Publisher: Derbi Books Inc., Hardcover, 239 pages
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.
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.
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.
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!