Let’s start with the disclaimer: Tyrrell were always ‘my’ team, making me the absolute target audience for this book.Jackie Stewart, via Derek Gardener’s six wheeler, and into a difficult 1980s and 1990s that wasn’t without its Cinderella moments – the Tyrrell story is entertaining in its own right, and also perfectly frames Formula 1’s evolution into a multi-billion dollar business.
Balancing a coffee table format, lavish illustration (over 500 pictures), and the need to tell a 40-plus year story in a few hundred pages, Richard Jenkins does a brilliant job of pulling it all together. It would be tempting to focus on the Tyrrell story up to the retirement of the six-wheeler at the end of 1977, but instead the book is superbly paced, offering as much insight into later struggles as on the glory days.
The joy of Tyrrell is that the team was always about the racing, and that is largely the focus of the book – with extensive contributions from almost all surviving Tyrrell drivers and technical staff – securing this array of interviews (including the scarcely heard from Mike Thackwell) is an achievement in itself.
That said – and bearing in mind my ideal length for this book was 3,000 pages – I would have liked a bit more on the business side of the team, having a bit more of a breakdown of latter year budgets, prize money and general logistical considerations.
Jenkins does a good job of not weighing in, when it would have been easy to express an opinion – for example both sides of the 1984 technical disqualification are put forward, and there are other occasions where Ken Tyrrell’s stubbornness had me gnashing my teeth in frustration (just buy a hospitality motorhome!). That said no punches are pulled or egos spared – there is unusual honesty from contributors about the capabilities of the drivers who passed through the team.
Most importantly the atmosphere and tone of the team is captured perfectly, Tyrrell was a one-off – a championship-winning Formula 1 team that felt like a family. For myself and many, many, others the Tyrrell ethos made supporting Formula 1 personal and relatable. It is extremely unlikely that we’ll see the likes of Tyrrell in Formula 1 again, and more’s the pity.
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Tyrrell: The story of the Tyrrell Racing Organisation
Author: Richard Jenkins
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