Two great racing books for Christmas

Jon Saltinstall’s ‘Jacky Ickx, His Authorized Competition History’ is a very different kind of book. Across over 600 pages it covers the great man’s career – from his first motocross ride in Belgium at the age of 16 in 1961 to his last competitive drive some 39 years later in the 2000 Dakar-Cairo rally.

What strikes most is the man’s extraordinary versatility. We remember Jacky’s exploits in F1, sports car racing and the Dakar rally but I knew nothing of his stunning career on trials bikes, his hill climbing record and little of his participation in many other racing disciplines.

As a book, you should take its title literally. It is indeed his competition history, event by event, all 483 of them that took place on four wheels, and if that is what you want, it comes highly recommended. What it is not, in any sense, in a biography of Jacky Ickx. Bar the introduction, and a Foreword written by Derek Bell, there is little of the man in here. Ickx’s own preface as is modest as we have come to expect from a man always keen to heap praise on others, underplays his own achievements and is most keen to recognize the fans without whom no-one races at the professional level.

It would have been no less informative and far more interesting, if these had been ghosted first-person accounts with a strong subjective element too, like ‘Stirling Moss – All My Races’ a quite brilliant book written with the late Alan Henry. Just don’t blame Saltinstall. I’ve tried to get Jacky to talk about his races in the past: I remember asking him about his 163mph pole lap at the old Spa in 1973 driving a Ferrari 312PB and within about five seconds he’d managed to turn the conversation around to establishing freshwater supplies in remote African villages.

Two good books, then, as you’d expect from Evro. Driven to Crime costs £45, and Jacky Ickx, His Authorized Competition History some £95. Neither is perfect nor close to it, but for very different reasons I’d say both are worth it. Especially if you buy from Amazon where both are available for a fiver less…

Images courtesy of Motorsport Images

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