Books For Christmas: How rallying's fast master turned tradition on its head

Who is Britain's best driver in motor sport? Damon Hill? David Coulthard? Johnny Herbert? There is a powerful case for arguing he is none of these, but instead Colin McRae.

It is difficult enough to compare grand prix drivers across the generations let alone exponents of racing with rally men. However, while the Britons in F1 cannot be considered the equal of Michael Schumacher, McRae is widely recognised as the most gifted driver in rallying.

And although you can debate forever the relative merits of racing and rally drivers, the latter fraternity have generally had the better of recorded dual-discipline challenges. McRae's counsel rests his case.

McRae, having evicted the gremlins from the engine of his Subaru, won the last three rounds of this year's world championship and missed out on his second title by one point. Just a few years ago, such a scenario for a British rally driver would have been unthinkable.

The Scot's defiance of tradition and anti-British prejudice is captured in "Colin McRae - Rallying's Fast Master" by David Williams (Haynes Publishing, pounds 12.99). "His awesome capabilities have become impossible to overlook," the author says.

McRae fits perfectly the mould of the reluctant superstar. He is enduringly and endearingly unpretentious, yet has made concessions to the demands of sport at the highest level. He has given up his bacon butties (it is alleged) for a healthier diet and adheres to a strict training regime.

The book leaves you craving more from the man, about himself, about others. But then he is not the most expressive character in motor sport, not with words anyway. When he is in the car it is a different matter: eloquence on wheels.

Who is Britain's best driver never to have won a world championship? That is easier. Indeed, there are those who would suggest Stirling Moss was the greatest British driver of them all.

Moss has left almost as many books as despairing opponents in his wake and even now, 35 years since his retirement, he is inspiring literary and photographic tributes. "Stirling Moss - Racing With the Maestro" by Karl Ludvigsen (Haynes Publishing, pounds 24.99) is a worthy addition to the list.

The words recall Moss's extraordinary versatility - he competed in rallies and sprints as well as races of many kinds - and his search for perfection in the face of sneering from within a predominantly amateur environment, and - above all - his sportsmanship.

The book's real appeal, however, as Ludvigsen acknowledges, is its picture content. Mainly black and white, they transport us to an age before rampant commercialism, crash barriers, run-off areas and, in Moss's case, seat- belts.

Moss's most treasured win was in the 1955 Mille Miglia, while his finest grand prix success was probably his single-handed defeat of Ferrari at Monaco in 1961. Little wonder Enzo Ferrari endeavoured to lure the Englishman to Maranello and ultimately the offer of a car built to Moss's specification proved irresistible to the hitherto stubborn patriot. Alas, he was seriously injured at Goodwood three weeks after the deal with Ferrari was agreed and did not compete in grand prix racing again.

The Italian marque's fortunes have fluctuated ever since and "Fifty Years of Ferrari" by Alan Henry (Haynes Publishing, pounds 24.99) records the unfolding drama. Aficionados will be drooling over the pictures here, although the same cannot be said of the photography in "Ferrari - The Passion and the Pain" by Jane Nottage (Collins Willow, pounds 29.99).

The author's portrayal of life inside the stable of the Prancing Horse is compromised also by political expediencies and sloppy editing, and at pounds 30 you might need a budget of Ferrari's proportions to afford it. But at least some of the technical insight gleaned from two years' dogged investigation should be appreciated by the anoraks.

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence