Memorable Moments in Motorsports
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Published on Wed, Dec 4, 2013
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
BOOK REVIEW Review by Doug Stokes FAST LINES Memorable Moments in Motorsports By Pete Lyons Octane Press (octanepress.com) 266 Pages, 71 B/W photos $24.95 ISBN 9780982913192 If you live, breathe, eat, and sleep motorsports, and you have a desire to know just a little bit more about the recent history of the sport, may I here suggest that you let the great Pete Lyons take you on a series of brief, but deeply personal visits with some of the most interesting and influential motorsports people, events, and machines from the latter days of the twentieth century. There are 55 individual story/chapters here divided by five groups: “Heroes”, “Cars”, “Events”, “This and That”, and, finally “Rants”. In each chapter you’ll find author Lyons writing in the first person, and there’s a good reason for that, the man was there, and he took notes (and photos as well, see below). Each story is a first person/personal recollection of fact. And each story is told with the exactly appropriate amount of detail. This is the real stuff. Please take that thought along with you for every page. Lyon’s book remembers and reminds its readers of the lasting legacy of a sport that he’s been intimately involved in since he was a young lad over four decades ago. Come along and meet Stirling Moss, Briggs Cunningham, Chris Economaki, James Hunt, Phil Hill, Jim Clark, Mario Andretti, Dan Gurney and eight more equally qualified, full-on heroes. You’ll find them here as you may never have elsewhere. And then there are the cars that Lyons lovingly talks to us about: Astons, Chaparrals, Maseratis, Scarabs, Cobras and more—each story more about the soul of the machine and the people who designed, or built, or drove them, than the dry technical details or price. Lyons’ section on events (like Sebring, Goodwood, Pikes Peak, the Targa Florio, Monterey) is every bit as personal. Here is a man who has reported on motorsports on six continents and at over 200 individual venues gifting us with all the benefits of those odysseys. His “This and That Section” and his “Rants” are all Lyons all the time as well—clean writing, with an honest point of view that always ends up with an answer that understands and somehow celebrates the sport. Even when the story ends in tragedy, like his chapter about American F1 driver Peter Revson, Lyons is still able to make some sense of it: “… I keep telling myself that, had he not raced, I’d never had known this person, never had a chance to enjoy his company, to appreciate his talent, to cheer his battle. For we’re all in battles of our own, and we do draw inspiration from our fellow warriors.” Of course, the draw here is Pete Lyon’s own, very personal writing, his inside stories about motorsports moments. But (wait) there’s more. Augmenting and accenting his words are some seventy photos that help to extend Lyon’s story line and remind us that this guy is as good a photographer as he is a world class journalist. So, here we have fifty-five tight focus word glances (and those 70 photos) into what I’d surely call the most recent golden age of motorsports for twenty-five bucks. That comes to about half a buck for each of these unique looks. I guarantee you that price is a bargain. Each story stands alone as a complete thought, a complete episode. But taken together as they come in this compendium, they allow Lyons to paint a wonderfully broad picture of his work in motorsports, one that he so generously has shared with us here. -DS All of these stories originally appeared in the pages of Vintage RACECAR Magazine and Pete Lyons’ unique column is still a regular part of the magazine that monthly chronicles the automotive eras gone by as well as engaging the current crop of memorable moment in vintage motorsports. Bonus LA Car Review Lyons’ publisher Tobias Gros at Octane also very kindly sent along a copy of Lyons’ stunning 2014 motorsports calendar entitled: “CAN-AM 2014 Mad Genius” …and it is all that. The wide-format 12” x 17” way of remembering what day it is actually a mini-gallery of some of Lyons’ great hits using a camera in place of a pen. The subjects here are as iconic and enduring as the ones in his book. The pictures are of the cars McLarens, Porsches, Chaparrals, Shadows, Lolas and other machines that all qualify as co-conspirators in the above-entitled “Mad Genius” of the (absolutely) no-holds-barred wild world of Can-Am racing in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Lest one not remember every one of these featured bolides with razor-sharp memories (as some of us do), Lyons adds a photographic remarque and some remarks about the people who made the machine and made it move like that. The price is $29.99 and it is available directly from Octane at octanepress.com -DS