Rare Book Review: Racing the Silver Arrows by Chris Nixon
Well, Lewis in the W05 looked supreme in Malaysia. The early form of Mercedes suggest they are clearly going to be the best F1 team this season and may re-kindle the kind of dominance the German marque enjoyed in the 30’s and 50’s. One of the best books to re-live the achievements of the Silver Arrows cars are the books by Chris Nixon. His book “Racing the Silver Arrows” is probably a must have book if you are a fan of the pre-F1 1950’s era of grand prix racing and most collectors will know its now worth a lot more than its original £29.95 cover price.
The book’s chapters cover each season from 1934 to 1939 looking at the exploits of Mercedes and Auto Union (Audi, DKW, Horch and Wanderer). Nixon includes bios of team drivers (Hemme, Stuck, Fagioli, Caracciola, von Bauchitsch, Rosemeyer, Varzi, Seaman, Lang and Nuvolari) and personnel (Dr Ferry Porsche, Rudolf Uhlenhaut, Günther Molter, Alfred Neubauer, Prof Eberan-Eberhorst) . In some cases, these are personal recounts including Ernst Hemme, Paul Peitsch, Hanns Geier, Elly Rosemeyer, Erica Seaman and Schorsch Meier). The rear section documents the results of each race between 1934-1939 and summary of the winners.
The book has less of a technical focus than say Laurence Pomeroy’s The Grand Prix Car as Nixon is clearly more interested in the driver personalities from both teams. At the end of each chapater are extract copies of GP race reports from The Autocar Magazine in the 1930’s, brief photo gallery from the season and race circuit descriptions. Two particular chapters stand out for me – Racing and the Nazis (some very intriguing photos) and Mountainclimb races (some beautiful although blurred photos).
Print layout is in double column and small 8 point font, so Nixon has crammed in a lot of narrative into the book’s 350 pages. Much of the photography is (at the time) unpublished photos from the Daimler Archive with contributions from various personal collections.
Without doubt, Chris Nixon’s book is a very comprehensively researched and detailed look at the 1930’s Silver Arrows era. The photography isn’t a focus of the book unlike Anthony Pritchard’s Silver Arrows in Camera series. For fans who are more interested in photos of this era, Chris Nixon’s companion book Auto Union Album 1934-1939 is a better bet for higher resolution image reproduction.
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Suitable for: Any fan of grand prix history.