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

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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2 Responses to Vintage Racing Bookshelf: Review # 12

  1. gmansmusic says:

    Great article! Interesting discovery.

  2. This fantastic collection of historic motorsports photos by the master, Jesse Alexander, was marred by numerous ink scribbles throughout the book. The description of the book downplayed the amount of the scribbling and indicated that none of the photos were affected. But the ink had indeed bled into several images.

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