The age of motorsport, when an aspiring photographer could amble around the paddock snapping world championship drivers, team personnel and stripped race cars, is long gone. Today, even with the required media accreditation, you have to elbow your way to the front of a crowd of spectators all brandishing mobile phones and point ‘n squirt cameras, only to find your progress halted by a brace of heavy security guards. In Motor Racing – The Pursuit of Victory 1963-1972, author Steve Wyatt, shows how it used to be done when the world was a much simpler place.
Although the front cover shows a pair of Alfa Romeo T33 sports prototypes, it would be remiss of me not to point out that much of the book concerns Formula One racing. Porsche fans will have to wait until the middle of the book before one of their favourite models is shown. But having said that, the quality and variation of images portrayed in the pages of this book is of the highest order. Any self-respecting motorsport enthusiast could not help but be impressed by the positions and places that the author got himself into, and who he was able to capture in the cross-hairs of his lens. Modest, is the only way to describe the author’s own view of his work, because it is not only refreshing, but also staggering to see the variety of shots he has been able to capture. Particularly amusing is the shot of a Lotus 63 being worked on, propped up off the ground supported by four wheels lying on their side, while Colin Chapman looked on!
It simply wouldn’t happen today, where a hobby photographer or even an accredited freelance photographer, could walk around the side of a trailer to find a world champion discussing gear ratios with his chief mechanic. Today’s sterile world of top level motorsport, in any and all disciplines, precludes the enthusiast from getting anywhere near the area where a race car is being prepared or repaired. And yet the author was able to, repeatedly and at a variety of race tracks, get right in there and find Graham Hill talking to Jim Clark, or other similar drivers discussing tactics with his team manager.
The author talks about taking ‘obscure’ photographs to record an event photographically in order to show later where he had been. Some of the photos are, in the opinion of this reviewer, priceless, such as the shot of three works Ferraris being fettled at Silverstone with body work off, and chief engineer Mauro Forghieri standing nonchalantly behind the cars. Or the Mike d‘Udy Porsche 906 waiting in line to be fuelled, or the battle-scarred Porsche 907 being pushed onto its transporter.
Although the style of this book is one of a gallery of fine images, it should be pointed out that in between groups of photos, the author has written about the race he has photographed. But importantly, every image is supported by a detailed and informative caption, which is not only important, but also a lot of work. In fact, these photographic history books can be a lot more work to compile than a more traditional narrative book, as the author has to select those images that will tell the story accurately, and then he has to accurately research the people in the image and the location. It sounds simple, but it isn’t, as one image for example, showed the car’s designer in the background discussing the car’s set up with the team manager – a hobby photographer would generally not know all of these lesser known industry people. Another shows Carlos Reutemann relaxing before a race, with his feet pushing a baby’s perambulator back and forth, unaware that he was being photographed.
Make no mistake, there is a lot of motorsport covered in this book, Formula One mainly, but also sports car racing with the likes of the Porsche 906 and 907, Porsche 917, Ferrari 512 S, Chaparral, Lola T70, and much more. For the motorsport enthusiast, this book also gives a lot of information and details about the race tracks, the cars, drivers, conditions on the day, and even additional background information is also supplied. Conservatively speaking, there is a wealth of information contained within its pages.
The page count and the photo count are reflected in the price of the book, which at £45.00 (UK) is not a push-over. But the reader will be pleasantly surprised at the value of the content contained within the pages of this publication. If your goal is to have a really comprehensive library containing a wide selection of motorsport subjects, then you will be glad to have this one on your bookshelf. Unfortunately, this book is now out of print, but enthusiasts can purchase the new eBook version (details below), or a search on the Internet should find you a good used copy.
|Title||Motor Racing – The Pursuit of Victory 1963 to 1972|
|Foreword||Jack Sears with contributions by Bob Dance|
|Publisher||Veloce Publishing Limited|
|Published||2012 (print); 2019 (eBook)|
|Page count||272 pages|
|Image count||427 colour and B&W photos|
|Format||250 mm x 250 mm, hardback with dust jacket|
|Price||Print £45.00 (out of print)|
|Price||eBook £29.99 / $30.99 / €29.99|
Written by: Glen Smale