“Motor Sport Greats in Conversation” reviewed

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The life of Sid Watkins was commemorated and celebrated in a special service on Friday. So it’s fitting that this week’s read has been a book which includes one of the last interviews he gave.

It says a lot about Watkins that when Simon Taylor arranged to interview him for MotorSport magazine’s “Lunch with…” series, he offered more than just lunch. The interviewer was invited to stay overnight as a guest in Watkins’ 18th-centry home.

Taylor’s lengthy interviews are monthly must-reads for me. This volume brings together a selection of his most interesting subjects and revealing articles.

The book certainly lives up to its billing: conjure up your own list of two dozen living motor sport greats and you’ll likely come up with many of the names that feature here.

There are world champions: Nigel Mansell, Mario Andretti, Damon Hill, Alan Jones, Jody Scheckter and Keke Rosberg. Top team principals, designers and engineers, such as Ross Brawn, Gordon Murray, Christian Horner and Jo Ramirez, also feature.

Sadly Watkins is not the only subject who has passed on since being interviewed: Roy Salvadori and Tom Wheatcroft appear as well.

Taylor makes great use of the time given to him by each subject and the space offered to his articles by MotorSport. The relaxed style of the interviews allows the subjects to open, giving the reader a truer appreciation of their characters. It also yielded some fascinating revelations – which I won’t give away here.

It’s hard to imagine a current Formula One driver having the time to indulge in something like this and unsurprisingly enough none of them feature. But the interview with Dario Franchitti gave me a renewed sense of appreciation that it is very much F1’s loss (and IndyCar’s gain) that he never ended up racing in it.

Of course it would be hard to recommend this book to someone who’s read the interviews already in MotorSport. But if you haven’t then Motor Sport Greats in Conversation absolutely must be on your list.

F1 Fanatic rating

Buy Motor Sport Greats in conversation (UK)

Motor Sport Greats in Conversation (USA)

Motor Sport Greats in Conversation

Author: Simon Taylor
Publisher: Haynes
Published: January 2013
Pages: 376
Price: ??19.99
ISBN: 9780857332509

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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2 comments on ““Motor Sport Greats in Conversation” reviewed”

  1. Sounds good, I occasionally get the Motor Sport magazine.
    Do you think modern F1 driver would refuse to do that though, or is it just their media/PR schedules are full up to do it? There’s plenty of British based teams so the drivers are in the country often enough.

    1. It probably depends on their contracts. I’ve been a part of a team who write contracts for clubs and sportsmen, and often the club has to give the sportsmen permission to speak to a journalist and even then, the sportsmen can only provide pre-approved answers. Another common thing we have seen in these types of contracts is a 10 year NDA, which prevents the sportsmen from speaking about anything relating to that club, after leaving the club.

      I can imagine an F1 drivers contract would be packed full with those types of restrictions.

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