“Lights Out, Full Throttle” by Damon Hill and Johnny Herbert reviewed

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“Choo Choo!” It’s all about the banter express for “Lights Out, Full Throttle” the Damon Hill and Johnny Herbert collaboration that – according to the cover – details “the good, the bad and the Bernie of Formula 1”.

Referred to hereon as LOFT (also the immediate destination for my copy), the book is essentially a conversation between Hill and Herbert on a range of F1 related topics, interspersed with ‘jokes’ and bantz. This is the Christmas funnies video in book form.

Building on the double act they’ve (allegedly) established on Sky Sports, LOFT tries to capture a comedic bickering tone. But whether through overwrought ghost writing or high speed editing, it largely fails to give a convincing impression of capture natural speech cadence. Road-testing this format as a podcast first would have weeded out the best stories and provided a more genuine feel (see Lineker and Baker Behind Closed Doors for a good example).

Their current paymasters loom large. For a pair with 275 F1 starts, 25 wins and a world championship between them, it’s curious their favourite reminiscences of venues like Silverstone and Monaco are apparently segments they filmed for Sky Sports. Yes, really. Pretty much every chapter mentions their television work and the whole affair quite evidently comes with the rubber stamp of approval from Sky towers.

All of which makes some of the fact checking, or lack thereof, all the more woeful. ‘Ralph’ Schumacher, ‘Stow’ corner – for example. At least get someone who has a rudimentary knowledge of the sport (you can join the dots for yourselves Sky fans) to have a proof-read before sending it to the printers.

The more technical section comes as a jarring contrast, albeit a welcome one, where both reel off innovative cars by official name (Brabham BT46, Lotus 88) in a manner strikingly at odds with the detail offered elsewhere.

In their autobiographies, notably Hill’s first-rate example, both have shown they are capable of offering thoughtful, sincere and insightful – after all you don’t have the careers that both enjoyed without being very sharp.

Frustratingly, LOFT has glimpses of real quality. When they escape the clown act constraints and get into proper discussion, Hill and Herbert share the virtue of their huge knowledge and sharply-honed perspectives on the sport. They are both genuinely likeable characters, they don’t need to act like it.

It’s certainly not as though books which focus on the lighter side of Formula 1 can’t be entertaining and enjoyable reads. Many of the stories here are funny enough to stand on their own, without the need for embellishment or repeated references to wee. These sections make it just about worth taking the time, as there is plenty of new material for staunch F1 fanatics (sorry, I meant race fans).

Doubtless this will appear under the (socially-distanced) Christmas trees of many fans this year. It is, just about, worth your time, especially if under the influence of festive tipples, before a trip to the nearest charity shop.

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Rating two out of five

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“Lights Out, Full Throttle”

Authors: Johnny Herbert and Damon Hill
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Published: 15th October 2020
Pages: 320
Price: £20.00
ISBN: 1529040035

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Ben Evans
Motorsport commentator Ben is RaceFans' resident bookworm. Look out for his verdict on the latest motor racing publications on Sundays....

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  • 15 comments on ““Lights Out, Full Throttle” by Damon Hill and Johnny Herbert reviewed”

    1. Whenever Herbert is on commentary during practice or F2 my interest level drops. Hill isn’t nearly as offensive with Herbert’s constant apparent need to make every topic somehow relate back to his own racing escapades, but I can’t imagine wanting to read a book with the two of them dialogueing. So thanks for taking that bullet for me, at any rate.

    2. The two lovely bar flies of Sky. They really should set up together in their own show. They are the go to team if you like opinions to be, well, vague, and insights that don’t really add that much to the story…

    3. Sounds utterly dreadful but the cover gives that away. Johnny ‘sort of’ sHerbert is the lowest common denominator on Sky’s coverage and they employ ‘Croftie’ so the bars closer to the tarmac than the popes lips. I remember the very likeable Hill saying Sky wanted them to do a skit in Monaco where they were in the same bed together, Hill rightly put his foot down refused. Its just a shame the mock banter wasn’t put in the same bin as this book will end up in.

    4. I feel sorry for the F1 fan who is going to have to look excited when they unwrap this garbage at Christmas.

    5. Ah they suggesting that Bernie is the “ugly” of F1? That is a little disingenuous. It’s not like the sport has rapidly improved without Bernie at the helm.

    6. Ah yes that Ralph guy, I vaguely remember him..

    7. My wife walked dropped in part way through the (Sky) build up of Nurburgring and was not happy with what she saw! (She idolises her ‘golden trio’ as she calls them of Humphries, Coulthard and Jordan.

      I said ‘yes, I have had to put up with this nonsense since 2012, I hate Sky.’

      And played a short Alan Partridge clip where he says ‘this is great banter… it really is’

      Simon Lazenby is the real life Partridge, and he unfortunately sets the bar low for all the ex-drivers he’s presenting with, even dragging Brundle into it sometimes.

      Great banter Paul Di Resta, it really is…

      1. I find that whenever Hill & Herbert are on screen, I’m reminded of Hinge & Bracket….

        1. Herbert reminds me of Mark Blundell. When asked a question, he answers by repeating the words of the question in a different order. And he has a tortured relationship with the English language.

      2. Jack (@jackisthestig)
        19th October 2020, 17:43

        I do feel sorry for Brundle sometimes, he spent 5 years next to Murray Walker and however long working with Jim Rosenthal, Tony Jardine and the naturally funny trio of Jake, Coulthard and Eddie Jordan. With Sky it’s like he’s sat on his own on the back row of the banter bus hiding his face behind a big newspaper.

    8. Referred to hereon as LOFT (also the immediate destination for my copy)

      savage

    9. So, bit similar to what they’ve shown us on track when they were still racing

    10. Oh man that cover reminds me of those old sitcoms when the actors look at the camera for the punchline and the “wah waaaah” sound plays.

    11. “Referred to hereon as LOFT (also the immediate destination for my copy)”

      Lol @benevans

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