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
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.