Books For Christmas: How rallying's fast master turned tradition on its head - Sport - The Independent

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
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
art
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
News
Kenny G
news
News
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Energy Markets Analyst

£400000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Energy Markets An...

Junior Web Analyst – West Sussex – Up to £35k DOE

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Nursery Manager

£22000 - £23000 per annum: Randstad Education Bristol: We are currently recrui...

Web Analyst – Permanent – Up to £40k - London

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week