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the cover of the book "Sam's Scrapbook - My Motorsports Memories"

Book Review - Motorsports Memories of Sam Posey

"Sam’s Scrapbook" gives a first-hand, close-up account of a romantic era in racing - through pictures few have seen and stories few have heard.

By Doug Stokes

Mon, Sep 6, 2021 12:57 PM PST

Book Review: Sam's Scrapbook - My Motorsports Memories

By Sam Posey, with John Posey

Published by Evro Publishing

Published: August 2021

ISBN 978-1-910505-65-6

£30.00GBP  $40.00 USD

Edited by Mark Hughes - Designed by Richard Parsons

Front cover photograph by Ellen Griesedieck

Distributed in North America by Quarto Publishing Group USA

I can tell you from perhaps the quickest “first lap” of any new book that’s come into our hands lately … that Sam Posey - though he’s long-retired from professional race driving and no longer cutting those stirring spoken roll-ins to the Formula One races, as well as quite openly fighting Parkinson's - is still that wonderfully wry, kindred spirit who paints, designs furniture, and builds gloriously-detailed and beautifully-mounted model train layouts.

Sam Posey wearing a helmet, sitting in a race car.

He now, ever so kindly, gives us a: “Hey pal, come on, sit over here …”, look at his life and times in this wonderfully detailed scrapbook. I can almost feel his arm draping over my shoulder as he escorts me into his study to reminisce and recount the stuff that he saw and did on/off/at the race track and a hundred other places of interest that this renaissance man found himself a part of.

Here’s one more thing going in … one does not have to be a racing fan - or even know who the heck Sam Posey is - to enjoy these chunks of a journey in what anyone, anywhere could call an interesting life that’s been damn well lived.

page 8 in Sam Posey's book "Sam's Scrapbook - My Motorsports Memories"
In the beginning: … Sam in his “racing” snowsuit

Let me start with Sam’s first car … a “gull wing” Mercedes 300SL that his mother bought for him when he was 14 - because Sam thought that it was a cool car.. But we’ll find out more about that shortly... So yeah, you guessed it, he came from a very well off family, and he actually competed in a car that now is considered one of the true sports car icons of the age.

Posey raced a huge variety of sports cars, saloons, and open-wheel machines in numerous racing arenas - Can-Am, USRRC, Trans-Am, IMSA, Indy, NASCAR, Formula 5000, and Formula 1 - against friends and rivals the likes of George Follmer, Parnelli Jones, Mark Donohue, Peter Revson, Dan Gurney, David Hobbs, and Brian Redman.

page 68 in Sam Posey's book "Sam's Scrapbook - My Motorsports Memories"
The Trans-Am Series pitted factory “Pony Cars” against each other

"Sam’s Scrapbook" gives a first-hand, close-up account of a romantic era in racing - through pictures few have seen and stories few have heard. Running alongside the classic images, Posey’s commentary is fascinating and thoughtful, and in turns both amusing and emotional. This is an unusual and engaging memoir by one of America’s best-loved racing heroes and will have strong appeal to all fully-grounded motorsports enthusiasts.

Early on (page 11 actually) a young Sam is already a full-fledged racing nut, subscribing to - and just about memorizing the contents of every edition of - Competition Press (which later became AutoWeek). Posey even wrote his own car quizzes that he would circulate among his (almost) equally wheel-wonkey school buddies. Among two pages of hand-written questions:  

"What, to the nearest 5hp, was the power output of the Ward Lime Rock midget?"
"Name two double and two triple winners at Le Mans:"
"Who is responsible for the Lola, the Stingray?"

page 105 in Sam Posey's book "Sam's Scrapbook - My Motorsports Memories"
“Any publicity is good publicity” – Sam with Loretta Swit from MASH

That’s some serious stuff for an adult fan, let alone a pre-teen. Happily, present-time Sam has provided the answers to the above and about eight or ten more of his burning "youth wants to know"-questions of the time in the index of this book. (I got about half a dozen right if anyone’s keeping score).

That’s what this book exudes: unabridged interest and unabashed love for cars and racing. It leaps from every page - for example the following about that 300SL what was, quite literally, his first car :

"...The salesman let us take it out. Once we were out of his sight, my mom pulled over and let me drive. I felt obliged to take the car up to its top speed. It had a very tight gear ratio, better for acceleration. I think it hit 145. They were asking $2,500 for it. They let us take it home while we thought it over. I had money my father had left me. But my mom didn’t think it would be a good image for me, at 14, to have a car of this kind. She was in the kitchen, debating, while I drove around and around the circle of our driveway. Finally, she came out and said, “I’m going to let you buy it, because I believe if your dad was alive now, he would want you to have it."

page 132 in Sam Posey's book "Sam's Scrapbook - My Motorsports Memories"
Going wind-blind at Le Mans … NOT funny at 220 miles per hour

And, from that start, the quest never stops, never runs out of steam or gleaming metal and rubber objects that go very fast, cost a whole lot of money, and (every so often) try to maim or kill you for what seems no good reason at all. Each of Sam’s reminiscences of his days in the unlimited horsepower CanAm machines, the sleek Formula 5000 open-wheelers, and the ultra-competitive (and ultra-political) Trans-Am series’ are beautifully-written hardcore nuggets that each feel here like sitting with the man in a cozy back booth at a congenial licensed, food and (adult) beverage provider over in the old part of town … familiar, unboastful, dead nuts true.

Sometimes clarity and correctness is more important than a smart-ass book reviewer’s cute jibes and clever jabs about a book. I can do no better here than to unabashedly run a list of chapters for this book to explain what this book is open for business about. There’s promise in every entry … and the stories that play out in the below listed sixty-plus chapters are geode after geodes full of fascinating memories from this very unique man - all accompanied by wonderful, highly-personal accompanying photos.

The Impressive Chapters

Dreams of Glory Mudge Pond Express
First Car Mercedes 300 SL
Jocko Lime Rock, 1964
First Race Lime Rock, 1964
Reserve Driver  Alfa Romeo GTZ, Bridgehampton, 1965
Daytona 24 Hours, 1966 Porsche  904 GTS
Bizzarrini Le Mans 24 Hours, 1966
Can-Am, 1966 McLaren M1B
Off to The USRRC McLaren M1B, 1967
Minute Barrier McLaren M1B, Lime Rock, 1967
Out Of Our Depth Caldwell D7
My Worst Crash Lime Rock, 1967
Charlie Fox Test at VIR
LeGrand Not So Grand Formula 5000, 1968
Penske Driver Trans-Am, 1968
In Parnelli's Dust Baja, 1968
Pretty, Slow Sebring, 1969
Steve Allen's Classic Wax Special Formula 5000, 1969
Ron Courtney Riverside, 1969
A Low And A High Formula 5000, Laguna Seca, May 1969
Showdown Formula 5000, 1969, final rounds
Shelby Mustang Trans-Am, Lime Rock, May 1969
Le Mans 24 Hours, 1969 Ferrari 250 LM
Duel With Dan Gurney Four-wheel-drive Lotus, Seattle, 1969
Daytona 24 Hours, 1970 Ferrari 312 P
NASCAR Motor Trend 500, Riverside, 1970
Trans-Am, 1970 Dodge Challenger
Moment Of Glory Trans-Am, Elkhart Lake, 1970
Attacked By Revson Trans-Am, Riverside, 1970
Le Mans, 1970 Ferrari 512
My Helmet Buenos Aires 1000Km, 1971
My Best Le Mans Ferrari 512 M, 1971
Mount Equinox Hitt Climb Mercedes 300 SL, 1971
Teaming  Up With Surtees Questor Grand Prix, 1971
Rivalry With Hobbo Formula 5000, 1971
Formula One Watkins Glen, 1971 and 1972
Can-Am Finale McLaren M8E, Riverside, 1971
Indy Eagle-Offy, 1972
Bulletproof Ferrari Le Mans 24 Hours, 1972
Mom's Citroën The evocative Traction-Avant
A Season To Forget  Formula 5000, 1972
Busy Weekend Races 1,200 miles apart
Vasek Polak Can-Am. Laguna Seca, 1972
Peter Gregg And The Stuck Seat Lime Rock, Porsche 911, 1973
English Conspiracy? Tasman series, Invercargill, 1973
Can-Am Ferrari Watkins Glen, 1974
Factory Driver Sebring 12 Hours, 1975
The Calder Car BMW 3.0CSL, Le Mans 24 Hours,  1975
Alone In The Desert Baja, 1975
Night At Le Mans BMW 3.0CSL, 1976
A First-Class Team Mirage GR8, Le Mans 24 Hours, 1977
My Last Le  Mans Mirage ORB, 1978
Concorde Commute Monaco  to Lime Rock, 1979
Finishing The Baja Frank Vessels, Chevy Blazer, 1980
Racing With Paul Newman Datsun 280Z.X, 1980
Evening At Sebring Datsun 280ZX, 1981
Lemon Meringue Lola T600, Elkhart Lake, 1981
Comeback! Formula Ford at Lime Rock
Lawn Car  

Along the way readers will meet up with a few names that might sound familiar. They are the drivers that Posey rubbed not only elbows, but door panels and wheels with over his nearly two decades of high level professional racing both here and abroad. There are scores more but these stalwarts are all referenced by name: John Surtees, Bruce McLaren, Jim Hall, Roger Penske George Follmer, Parnelli Jones, Swede Savage, Tony Adamowicz, Dan Gurney, David Hobbs, Paul Newman, and Brian Redman. Posey crossed swords with one and all at one time or another - and with good effect.

page 144 in Sam Posey's book "Sam's Scrapbook - My Motorsports Memories"
Called “PLN” at the races, where he was a Racedriver NOT an actor

This is the work of an involved, articulate man who - as was mentioned early on - has been there and done that in racing and in life, and who’s not at all showing off, but very kindly sharing some of his stories for everyone to enjoy. It should be noted that this is all done with the great good encouragement and help of his young son. Sam’s crisp writing, his wide range of experiences, and his easy turn of a phrase make this one a truly enjoyable read.

Just for reference … the front straightaway at Lime Rock Park (his beloved home road racing circuit in Connecticut) is named for Posey who designed the track’s elegant main building and office complex. Furthermore, Sam was inducted into the prestigious Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2016.

poster for the exhibition "Posey" at the Saratoga Automobile Museum
Caption

Other Books By Sam Posey

Posey has written three previous books:

Where The Writer Meets The Road (2015)

An award-wining collection of writings, including chilling passages about racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, as well a number of his classic opening monologues for Formula One TV broadcasts.

Playing With Trains (2004)

About his passion for model railways

The Mudge Pond Express (1976)

An early autobiography about his childhood and racing).

Summary

And here’s maybe the best part of all, you don’t need to be a racing fan or even remember any of Sam’s exploits on (and off) the racetrack to enjoy this book. His life and his stories are really about people and that’s the theme here. People’s toys, people’s work, and the interaction that this guy has had with so many interesting people, all wrapped around a life that included 17 years of competing at some of the highest levels of World motorsports - all while leading a "second life" as an accomplished fine artist, industrial designer, writer, husband, TV commentator, and father.

About The Author

Doug Stokes's profile picture

Doug Stokes

Doug has a long and wide-ranging history in the motoring business. He served five years as the Executive Director of the International Kart Federation, and was the PR guy for the Mickey Thompson's Off-Road Championship Gran Prix. He worked racing PR for both Honda and Suzuki and was a senior PR person on the first Los Angeles (Vintage) Grand Prix. He was also the first PR Manager for Perris Auto Speedway, and spent over 20 years as the VP of Communications at Irwindale Speedway. Stokes is the recipient of the American Autowriters and Broadcaster’s 2005 Chapman Award for Excellence in Public Relations and was honored in 2015 by the Motor Press Guild with their Dean Batchelor Lifetime Achievement Award. “… I’ve also been reviewing automobiles and books for over 20 years, and really enjoy my LA Car assignments.” he added.

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