British Racing Green, of whatever hue, still resonates with national pride in Britain's motor racing heritage which is chronicled here; even when other colours were worn.
At the start of the 20th Century James Gordon-Bennett , an American newspaper owner, instituted a challenge competition with the Automobile Club de France in which all parts of competing cars had to be made in the country they represented. The organisers also insisted that each nation’s cars be painted in a distinctive colour but Britain was not involved in that first competition in1900.
In 1902 the British Napier was painted in green and by 1913 green was becoming established as the British racing colour. British Racing Green, which varied from pale apple green to the popularly recognised dark green, then continued at the top levels of motor racing until the arrival of commercial sponsorship in the 1960s.
David Venables' Drivers, Cars and Triumphs of British Motor Racing
Despite the title, British Racing Green covers more than a hundred years of British motor racing history from 1900 to the end of the 2007 season – long after green was only in occasional use by British teams. It is probably appropriate as teams are now so international even when nominally British.
This book is organised by manufacturer or marque in broadly chronological sequence. As most teams had lives that spanned many years it is inevitable there would be overlap between sections however it was organised. It works here as this book is about Drivers, Cars and Triumphs of British Motor Racing so it is appropriate that it forms an overlapping series of team histories.
Along with the big teams like Sunbeam, Bentley, Jaguar, Vanwall or McLaren the small teams or those that only had a limited life are covered. That includes teams like ERA, Alta, Connaught who get or share a complete chapter to those such as Lea-Francis, Alvis and Talbot who get a mention in a final catch-all chapter. How many, even ardent historians, have heard of Weigel but it still gets most of a page?
Racing Drivers, Designers and Team Owners
British Racing Green is also about people and their enthusiasm, foibles, talents and weaknesses. Throughout motor racing history it has been populated by team owners, designers and drivers who were often larger than life and who, in many cases, were driven more by their passion than their judgement. It makes for a fascinating combination of technological development and human weakness, and strengths – David Venables brings this out without getting bogged down in personality.
Conclusion: A Must for Motor Racing and Classic Car Enthusiasts
Every motor racing, or indeed classic car, enthusiast needs a history of motor racing on his or her bookshelf and this book fulfils that role admirably. This a large format (25cm x 25cm) quality book and is well laid out by manufacturer with excellent illustrations in both black and white and colour.
Perhaps the only criticism that could be applied to this book is that it has too few pages. As result the pace of the book is fast and there is a lot of information to absorb. It is still an enjoyable read but it could leave the readers breathless if they sit and read British Racing Green cover to cover. Something they may well find it hard to resist. It is a book to enjoy, to dip into to check facts or just to indulge in nostalgia. Any enthusiast would be delighted to receive it as gift or to have it on there n their bookshelf.
British Racing Green(2008, ISBN: 978-07110-3332-0) by David Venables is published in hardback at £24.99 ($46.95).
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