Brian Redman: Daring Drivers, Deadly Tracks, by Redman himself and Jim Mullen, has won the Royal Automobile Club’s 2016 Motoring Book of the Year Award. It was presented at an annual ceremony held at the Club’s Pall Mall clubhouse, attended by authors, leading publishers and discerning book collectors.
It’s just the latest example of Redman – who evolved from boy racer in a Morris Minor Traveller to winning the Targa Florio road race and being three-times Formula 5000 champion – beating off stiff competition.
Some 20 books were considered by the Club’s panel of fiercely independent judges, who then met to debate the merits of six excellent finalists, all of them published between July 2015 and June 2016.
As well as Redman’s winning title from Evro Publishing – memorably described by one judge as a book on “probably the greatest racing driver you’ve never heard of” – other contenders included Squire: The Man, The Car, The Heritage by Jonathan Wood (Classic Motor Cars Ltd); the novel Fatal Pursuit by Martin Walker (Quercus); Bentley: The Vintage Years by Clare Hay (Number One Press); Maserati 250F: The Autobiography of 2528 by Ian Wagstaff (Porter Press); and Colin Crabbe: Thrill Of The Chase by car hunter Colin Crabbe (Dalton Watson).
In an innovation introduced in the Award’s successful third year, the judges also recognised a Specialist Book of the Year, as a work representing a dedicated feat of research and endeavour. Jonathan Wood’s extraordinary book on the esoteric Squire marque, which produced just five sports cars in the 1930s in an attempt to rival Aston Martin, took that accolade for 2016.
Judges for the Award were experienced book reviewers Mick Walsh of Classic & Sports Car, Gordon Cruickshank of Motor Sport, motoring writer and broadcaster Henry Hope-Frost and Keith Adams of Classic Car Weekly. They were joined in their deliberations by two leading figures from the book-selling world, Ben Horton of specialist stockist Hortons Books and Christian Whitehead of the famous London bookshop Foyles.
“We give our judges an almost impossible task in agreeing on a single title for our 2016 Motoring Book of the Year,” said Peter Read, Royal Automobile Club Motoring Committee chairman, “However, there was broad consensus that Brian Redman’s book provides an exceptional mixture of excitement, poignancy, humour and information at a relatively affordable price. It is just so readable, as well as being an important and overdue addition to the list of British racing driver biographies”.
“At the other end of the spectrum, our respect is immense for the work of Jonathan Wood in chronicling the little known achievements of Adrian Squire. It’s just the kind of book, where perhaps wide commercial prospects take second place to a venture of incredible research and writing, that our new Specialist Book Award is designed to celebrate”, continued Peter Read.
Other features of the Awards evening included one world famous author being interviewed by another as Karl Ludvigsen talked about his life and work to Graham Robson. The audience also enjoyed a lively debate on the future of book publishing with a panel of invited personalities from the motoring book world. These included Michael Sedgwick Trust chairman Peter Card, Octane journalist Mark Dixon, bookseller Ben Horton, columnist and collector Simon Taylor, and widely published author Johnny Tipler.