Most people will enjoy a 30-40 year working life, and then go on to retirement. Others take a different route, and add a second string to their bow, extending their working life and adding a lot of colour and excitement to their careers in the process. This second option is often followed by sportsmen and women who, after an active sporting life, switch to writing or broadcasting about their chosen sport. This is what David Hobbs, or ‘Hobbo’ as he is known to his friends, did.
In short, David Hobbs raced competitively, at the highest level, from 1959 to 1990, driving everything from a Lotus Elite to Formula Junior, sports cars, Formula 2, endurance racing including Lola, Ferrari, Ford GT40, McLaren (Tasman Series), Formula 5000, Formula 1, IMSA, Trans-Am, Group C, and so the list goes on. Hobbs had his fair share of incidents and crashes, but who wouldn’t after 30-odd years behind the wheel of some of the fastest racing cars on the planet.
Running concurrently as from 1976, Hobbs doubled as a TV commentator and here he excelled just as much as he had done on the track. Working for NBC, CBS, ESPN and Speedvision, Hobbs plied his trade up and down the length and breadth of the USA bringing his expertise to the viewers and listeners. In 2009, David Hobbs was inducted into the American Motorsports Hall of Fame, a truly deserving accolade.
That is the history lesson in two short paragraphs, but the book: Hobbo – Motor Racer, Motor Mouth, The Autobiography of David Hobbs – is so much more. It contains all the pain, success and embarrassments that go with a career spanning 58 years, and all in the public eye. The book is written in an easy-going, matter-of-fact way, and will keep you smiling throughout, as Hobbo lays it on the line for all to enjoy. Hobbs has been assisted in the task of writing by fellow commentator, Andrew Marriott, who is himself not short of a word or two, and who was at those very early races with Hobbs when he was pedalling the Lotus Elite around the circuits of the UK and Europe showing great potential.
Several top racing drivers have published biographies or autobiographies of late, and this one is presented in a similar, light-hearted but factual style. Photographs from personal and family albums show Hobbs from a young age, right up until his retirement, and illustrate both his successes and disappointments on track and in the recording studios. Hobbs has driven with some of the best racing drivers, and here he includes Mark Donohue, Mario Andretti, Brian Redman, John Surtees, John Fitzpatrick and numerous others.
As this is an autobiography, David Hobbs has included a touching couple of chapters at the end of the book about his family, his business interests, and his wife Mags, who has been a lifelong support throughout his career. Not one to sit idly by, Mags was in the pit lane throughout the early years, but once the family grew it became a time of sitting by the phone to wait for those calls to hear how her husband had done.
This is an entertaining read, and it will offer the reader insights into the world of motorsport from behind the wheel, as well as from behind the microphone. The book has a feeling of quality to it, the body text and captions are clear and easy to read, not like some publishers who feel that light grey print offers an interesting (but unreadable) colour contrast.
If you are a motorsport enthusiast, you will want this one on your bookshelf, because it will transport you into the tough world of motorsport, but also show you the lighter side of broadcasting. I’m glad I’ve got my copy!!
|Title||Hobbo – Motor Racer, Motor Mouth, The Autobiography of David Hobbs|
|Author||David Hobbs with Andrew Marriott|
|Format||280 x 235mm, hardback|
|Page count||304 pages|
|Images||More than 300 photographs, including colour|
Written by: Glen Smale