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Homepage. This page: Two books capture different aspects of Lotus, and the people behind the name.
There's no shortage of books about Lotus cars, whether those built for competition, or those destined to spend their lives on public roads. The following two titles take a look behind the scenes of two key players in the history of Lotus, including its founder, Colin Chapman. First though, a book regarding the Team Lotus F1 team in the 1970s and 1980s, as told by a team insider.

Team Lotus - My View From The Pit Wall.

Haynes.

Peter Warr & Simon Taylor.
ISBN 978 0 85733 123 6
Published 2012. (Hardback, 240 pages).
Review date September 2013.
Book cover

UK RRP 19.99.

Buy this Book:
Reading books about a racing team, that have been written by an outsider, is one thing, but to fully understand the evolution of a team - through good times and bad - only a team insider, one privvy to key decision-making, can truly shed light on what really went on. Peter Warr ran the day-to-day operations of Team Lotus, from 1969 through to his retirement in 1989 (punctuated by spells at Wolf and Copersucar Fittipaldi), navigating the team and its employees alongside company founder Colin Chapman - whom he'd known since 1958 - through the inevitable highs and lows of motor racing life. Much of this book is written by Warr himself, with additional content provided by Simon Taylor, who stepped in following Warr's death in 2010 to complete the story.
A summary of life spent working with Chapman and the team mechanics, is followed - in Chapter Three - by a frank insight into Warr's thoughts about the drivers that pedalled their racing cars over the years he was involved with the team. Rindt, Fittipaldi, Petersen, Andretti, Mansell, Senna and others all come under the microscope, with forthright views on some of the star drivers' failings and, to give balance, their plus points, all to be found within the text. Colour and black-and-white photographs are reproduced throughout the book; while the text pages are printed on what feels to be a low-grade of paper, the images are re-produced on gloss stock.
If it wasn't for gifted engineers, drivers would have little opportunity to showcase their true talents behind the wheel. Chapter Four focuses on these back-room individuals, while the next Chapter tells of Warr's involvement and understanding of the complex, successful, character that is Bernie Ecclestone.
Given that at the time of writing, Warr had been out of Formula One for many years, he was free to write his story as he saw fit, without fear of upsetting the fragile egos that often go to form the personalities of top-line drivers in the sport. As an insight into the world of Formula One during the Hethel-based team's involvement in the sport, this book presents a useful angle to events. An interesting approach to documenting the story of the team founder, Colin Chapman, may be found in the second book to be reviewed on this page, below.

Colin Chapman - The comic-strip biography.

Haynes.

Denis Bernard.
ISBN 978 0 85733 471 8
Published 2013. (Hardback, 140 pages).
Review date September 2013.
Book cover

UK RRP 19.99.

Buy this Book:
I wasn't entirely sure that I'd like this book, but as an unusual approach to writing the Lotus founder's biography, it won me over and has a lot to recommend it. Originally published as a French-language title in three parts, between 2012 and 2013, the English translation featured here was published by Haynes in September 2013. There's no introduction, no prologue, nor contents page, just straight into the story which begins here at Rheims racing circuit, in 1956, with Chapman leading Mike Hawthorn in qualifying, both behind the wheels of the front-engined Vanwall cars. A shunt later in the session rendered Chapman, already a constructor of F2 cars, to spectator duties only for the race itself and as such raised the drawbridge on any hopes he might have had of becoming a full-time F1 driver.
Illustrated in colour throughout, the story of Chapman's progression within the industry, initially as a racer then legendary constructor of both road and race cars, is told in comic-book style. Attention to detail in the illustrations is to a high order, and very eye-catching indeed. I think that breaking up the story into broad chapters might have made it a little more manageable, especially if you like to dip in and out of a book such as this, but overall this is a very enjoyable book to read. It's reproduction and style lends itself to younger readers too, and could serve as a great introduction to motor racing, and especially the history of racing, to youngsters who hitherto perhaps didn't "get" their parents interest in the subject. For anyone who has seen a great many motoring books already, this novel approach to telling the Chapman story is really quite refreshing, and should be on any Lotus enthusiasts' birthday or Christmas list.
RJ
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