The Last Road Race, by Richard Williams

Last days for a dying breed of daredevils
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The Independent Culture

The Pescara Grand Prix of 1957, run alongside the Adriatic and up through village roads often blocked by unhurried goat-herds, was not literally The Last Road Race, but it represented the end of something crazy and glorious and separated utterly from these days of Michael Schumacher and the Big Red Machine.

The Pescara Grand Prix of 1957, run alongside the Adriatic and up through village roads often blocked by unhurried goat-herds, was not literally The Last Road Race, but it represented the end of something crazy and glorious and separated utterly from these days of Michael Schumacher and the Big Red Machine.

Richard Williams superbly evokes that weekend when Stirling Moss, in a Vanwall, drove to victory over Juan Fangio in a Masarati and announced that the British were truly coming.

It is a small book -- 136 pages of narrative -- but perfectly formed. Based on interviews with the surviving British drivers, Moss, Tony Brooks and Roy Salvadori, and Aussie Jack Brabham, The Last Road Race is filled with the re-kindled life of racers on an edge that, because of the inevitable march of safety regulations, simply no longer exists. One stark statistic: five of the 16 Pescara entrants later died at speed.

They travelled the world in the reckless belief that a life undrenched with adrenaline was hardly worth living. In so skilfully describing their attitudes and their world, Williams does not neglect the interest of those fascinated by the development of the racing car.

This makes an entirely worthy companion for his impressive earlier works, The Death of Ayrton Senna and Enzo Ferrari: A Life.

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