Book reviews Raymond Mays’ Magnificent Obsession W Ferrari 333 SP
(Veloce) By Bryan Apps ISBN 978 1 845847 86 9 Review copy supplied by the publisher Available from Octane Books, Auckland Review by Allan Walton (Veloce)
hen, at the age of only 13, the author heard that Raymond Mays was planning to produce an all-british Grand Prix car, he decided to keep a scrapbook monitoring the progress of this exciting project. Indeed, he was so fired up by the whole process that he even wrote to Mays and got him to write a foreword for the scrapbook. That initial contact would lead to more correspondence over the years, as Apps collected more details for his scrapbook.
Mays, who had made a name for himself with the English Racing Automobiles (ERA) concern pre-war, quickly developed the amazing BRM V16 — alas, it turned out to be a glorious failure. It did, however, lay the foundations for Great Britain’s eventual domination of Formula 1 racing.
A skilled artist as well as a lifelong motor sport enthusiast, the author — now an Anglican priest — covers the story of ERA and BRM through his own paintings plus personal letters from personalities such as Alfred Owen, Tony Rudd, Rivers Fletcher, and onetime BRM V16 driver Juan Manuel Fangio as well as Mays. That previously mentioned foreword, originally written in 1952, also graces this book.
The history of ERA is knocked off in a single chapter, while the story of BRM gradually devolves into a raceby-race summary that rapidly becomes a mite tiring. However, while this book does include a few photos, it is Apps’ paintings of the cars and the personalities involved with BRM that dominate — and, indeed, along with the reproduced letters, they provide this book’s real attraction.
There are more complete histories of both ERA and BRM out there, but few offer such a tantalizing glimpse into the personality and times of the main man behind those famous racing cars.