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

About terryjohnsen

Writer/photographer of vintage/historic sports car racing. See you at the track! Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Terry Johnsen and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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