At Porsche Road & Race, we receive many books for review, and these include books on all manner of high performance roadgoing sports cars and motorsport. So, when the Aston Martin book, DBR 9 – The Definitive History arrived on my desk, it created some fanfare because not only was it a large parcel, but it was also a very heavy one. Intrigued, I set about opening it, and to be quite honest, it was unlike any other book I had previously had the privilege of reviewing. In a nutshell, this book created a watershed in my opinion, showing just how a definitive book on any automotive subject should be undertaken.
So impressive was this piece of work, that I decided at the time that it could not be reviewed in the normal sense of the word. And so I tracked down Darren Turner, the longest standing Aston Martin works driver, and one who was deeply involved in the development of the DBR 9 from the outset, and I conducted an interview with him at Le Mans in 2016. But wasn’t it a bit of an overkill to do an interview with a racing driver just for a book review, you might ask? No not really, and if you get your hands on a copy of the book, you will understand why! The quotes below are excerpts from my interview with Turner in the Aston Martin hospitality suite at Le Mans, and do not form part of the book itself. Read on…
“I was there from the very first time that the car turned a wheel, which was in October or November 2004, and I did all of the driving that day on its first shakedown at Donington Park. I was also part of the winning team at Sebring in 2005 on its maiden race. So the DBR 9 was something that I’ve been heavily involved in right from the absolute very beginning, until the end of 2011 FIA GT world championship,” Darren Turner explained to me.
Firstly, the authors, Christoph Mäder and Thomas Gruber, were both intimately involved at the forefront of motor racing, and most importantly, with an Aston Martin customer team. Mäder was the PR officer for the Jet Alliance team and Gruber was behind the wheel of an Aston Martin DBR 9 – what better qualification could you ask for, when researching and writing a book of this nature? Mäder shared with me, that at the 2008 Spa 24 Hours, he was responsible for taking VIPs around the paddock and into the pit garage, explaining the car’s attributes and how the team worked.
I have personally witnessed the DBR 9 racing from its inception in 2005 in the European Le Mans Series, through the FIA GT and World Championship years, including the Le Mans 24 Hours. At the 2008 Spa 24 Hours race, I was an accredited photographer, and witnessed the progress of the #33 Jet Alliance Aston Martin DBR 9 in that race, and so this also in some way qualifies me to review such a fine work as this book. In fact, Christoph Mäder and I were working out of the same media centre that Spa race, we just didn’t know each other at that stage.
Secondly, let us look at how the book is constructed. The contents stretch from the DBR 9’s initial concept, through development, homologation, engine, drivetrain, all mechanicals, aerodynamics, through to the model’s works and customer teams, to its racing history, so every aspect of the model’s life is addressed. The authors have also covered all the major race series in which the Aston Martin DBR 9 competed, giving lap times at each circuit and by which driver.
Thirdly, with regards to the book’s presentation and layout, the term exceptional almost doesn’t do it justice. Christoph Mäder really pushed the boat out with this one. Apart from the task of researching, interviewing and writing, Mäder was also responsible for the book’s design and graphics. Mäder included numerous acetates (overlaid transparent films), effectively creating multi-layered illustrations that give the reader an unparalleled insight into the construction and workings of the DBR 9.
Towards the rear of the book are several detailed sections that cover each car’s chassis history, giving race results per car, as well as a compilation of all pole positions achieved by the DBR 9 worldwide. This is followed by a section containing foldouts that show the development timeline of the DBR 9, and when each chassis was introduced to the world. This is in turn followed by a detailed record of every driver who has ever sat behind the wheel of a DBR 9 in competition, and which race they competed in.
“It is a special car to me. To be involved so deeply with a project, and to go through the iterations that we had from the Le Mans set up and the wins that we had with that car here [at Le Mans] in 2007 and 2008, and then in the last couple years when it was sort of detuned for the FIA world championship, and to go through all of that experience was a great part of my career,” Turner added.
For any Aston Martin enthusiast, racing fan or not, this very substantial tome is something that you want to have on your bookshelf. For those who are perhaps not Aston Martin enthusiasts, but favour another racing GT brand such as Corvette, Porsche or Ferrari, this publication would still be of great interest. Having this volume on your bookshelf would complete your coverage of GT racing during the period 2005-2011, a rich and exciting time in GT1 and GT2 racing.
DBR 9 – The Definitive History, scores a firm eleven out of ten, it is simply a marvellous piece of work, and it’s a step above anything else I have seen. I will let Darren Turner have the last word, “The DBR 9 deserved to have a book like this made, just to highlight what a special car it was.”
|Title||DBR 9 – The Definitive History|
|Authors||Christoph Mäder and Thomas Gruber|
|Publisher||T.A.G. Motor Books GmbH|
|First published||November 2012|
|Page count||296 pages|
|Images||Over 400 images, many previously unpublished, detailed 3D illustrations, technical drawings and renderings, multiple special pages and fold-out pages|
|Format||280 x 330 mm (portrait), hardcover with slipcase|
|Aficionado’s Edition||Limited to 2700 numbered copies – €195.00|
|Driver’s Edition||Limited to 270 copies, black suede cover in black slipcase – €650.00|
|Available||T.A.G. Motor Books GmbH|
Written by: Glen Smale
Images by: T.A.G. Motor Books GmbH, and Virtual Motorpix/Glen Smale