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79 YEARS ... 24 HOURS ... and the Yanks who competed

Published on Thu, Dec 20, 2018

By: Doug Stokes

…As much an adventure book as it is a history book and in-valuable reference guide my opinion (and I’m very pleased to be able to be in pretty early with this note) is that “Twice Around the Clock” is one of those unique works that quite literally reaches far beyond just being a book about American racing cars, racing car drivers, racing car teams and stats. 

The fact that this book’s author, Tim Considine, is a friend of mine makes me even more eager to recommend this book. Not because of that friendship, but for the fact that our relationship has allowed me to witness the years-long process that this book has come from, the sort of diligence, commitment, and passion that’s gone into the research and writing of this remarkable document.  And, in recent weeks, to view much of his final work in PDF galley form.

“Classic” is an often misapplied and overused term … It’s my opinion that this writing will help to better define that word in the future.

And the style and substance with which these stories about “The Yanks at Le Mans” are told is something that (at least for me) is very hard to put into words.  Every page reveals something of why Le Mans is such a quest, such a place, such a time, and such a state of mind that’s honestly like no other in motorsports.

The choice of photography (much of which has never been seen before) from museums, collections and from professional and amateur photographers all over the world is simply amazing.  And the wealth of backup information, charts, and statistics that Considine includes is something too rarely seen in books about motorsport.

With all the stories of heroic drives there’s a technical undertone here in Considine’s saga that sees racing cars getting progressively faster and increasingly more complex as the years speed by.

All motor racing is a team effort and long distance racing is arguably the most critical of that aspect.  “Yanks” celebrates the Americans who worked the wrenches and the welding torches as well as those who took the wheel.

Those things and the personal stories – Oh, the stories!  Candid, sometimes controversial and often hysterically funny – set these volumes off as not just a great read, but a unique living archive of the great French Classic and the Americans, famous and not, who’ve experienced it.

Best of all, in most cases, it’s those drivers, crew members and team owners who tell us their stories.  “Yanks,” Considine likes to say, “… adds humanity – and a fair bit of profanity – to history.”

These are the true stories of a single quest that’s beckoned over 300 intrepid Americans to a race track that was cobbled from country roads in northwest France for over seventy years now … some to great glory and some to disaster.

Here, in this aptly subtitled: “The Yanks at Le Mans”, all of those American’s stories are told with a sense of purpose.

The truth that we learn in Considine’s book is that no driver, no crew, no team, ever really competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans on a lark. Some started out that way but this race inevitably ended up making it crystal clear to all involved that serious business was afoot.

A highly regarded motorsports authority, Considine’s own 20+ year obsession with the 24 is showing here on every page and in every detail that anyone could imagine.  Here each quote is noted and satisfyingly referenced, and the sharply detailed participation tables for drivers, teams, and marques tell their own intriguing side of the decades-long saga with every stat for every race.

The first three volumes of this monumental work cover the years from 1923 to 1970 at Le Mans and have been published as a boxed set.  There’s more to come of course, all of it as colorful and varied as the years of the race.

“Twice Around the Clock” reports on the once and ongoing American participation in this fabled long-distance race with accuracy and a well-placed sense of honest pride. –DS

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NOTE: Besides being an accomplished motor sports historian, author Considine has one more mark of authenticity on his bona fides …As a young actor he owed and drove a D-Type Jaguar to work at the TV studios every when he played the eldest of Fred McMurray’s three sons.

Reviewer Doug Stokes is a semi-retired motor racing operative who’s worked all sides of the catch fence, as a sanctioning body executive, a racing team representative for a number of manufacturers (cars and motorcycles), as the PR director for a national racing series, and as a so-so racing driver himself (“…who never got the call to drive in the 24” – DS).

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