Expert judges – including the UK’s leading reviewers and booksellers – have now met to debate the 2016 Royal Automobile Club’s Motoring Book of the Year, and a shortlist of finalists has been chosen and includes works on unsung racing drivers and individual historic racing machines; an extraordinary history on a marque which made just five cars; the life story of a vintage car detective involved in many important ‘barn finds’; and even an intriguing novel based on a real-life Bugatti.
The winner of the annual Award, now in its third year, will be announced during a unique literary evening devoted to automotive and motor sport publishing, at the Club’s historic Pall Mall home on 2 November. The event will also welcome several world-famous writers to talk about their work and debate the future of automotive book publishing.
There will be a main Award for a book with wide appeal at an affordable price, and also an additional accolade for a single book that, in the opinions of the judges, represents a special achievement regardless of its retail cost.
“There is, as ever, a glorious variety of subject matter and approach to our finalists,” said Peter Read, Chairman of the Motoring Committee at the Royal Automobile Club.
“Our judges, who are all fiercely independent, have had to argue their merits, but I know that the decision they finally reached has produced a shortlist of exceptional contenders.”
The nominations for Motoring Book of the Year are:
• Brian Redman: Daring Drivers, Deadly Tracks by Brian Redman (Evro): judge Henry Hope-Frost, who reviews for Autosport magazine, was high in his praise for this book on “probably the greatest racing driver you’ve never heard of.”
• Squire: The Man, the Car, The Heritage by Jonathan Wood (Classic Motor Cars Ltd): judge Mick Walsh, of Classic & Sports Car, rated this work very highly for its incredible detail and the huge research task involved in chronicling the life and work of would-be 1930s sports car entrepreneur Adrian Squire.
• Fatal Pursuit by Martin Walker (Quercus): judge Christian Whitehead, of the transport department at London bookshop Foyles, has admiration for this fictional story woven around the facts of a real-life Bugatti, in a mainstream story from a big-selling novelist.
• Colin Crabbe: Thrill Of The Chase by Colin Crabbe (Dalton Watson): judge Gordon Cruickshank of Motor Sport magazine was among several others who admired the singularity of this tale of a famous vintage car hunter’s life story.
• Bentley: the Vintage Years by Clare Hay (Number One Press): judge Ben Horton, of specialist retailer Hortons Books, professed himself “blown away” by the quality of this specialist title from an acknowledged expert.
• Maserati 250F: The Autobiography of 2528: by Ian Wagstaff (Porter Press); judge Mick Walsh, of Classic & Sports Car was wowed by the excellence of this lavish book on a single car, along with others in this series which won praise from all his colleagues.
Said Peter Read,
The Royal Automobile Club has kept faith in the printed word, particularly as we possess one of the most significant collections of automotive-related books in the world. The history of the Club spans that of the car itself, and it is almost our duty to stoke discussion and enthusiasm in all aspects of motoring. The Motoring Book of The Year Award is our commitment to honour motoring authors.
In order to make the Award independent and insightful, the Club asked six experts who independently review books regularly and in detail for their opinions. Mick Walsh of Classic & Sports Car, Gordon Cruickshank of Motor Sport, Keith Adams of Classic Car Weekly, freelance writer, motoring writer and broadcaster Henry Hope-Frost, together with Ben Horton of leading independent automotive book distributor Horton’s Books and Christian Whitehead, transport buyer for Foyles Bookshop.