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)

New Zealand Classic Car - - AUTOMOBILIA -

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.

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