Me, I watched my first Grands Prix in 1989 when he was racing for Ferrari and I was instantly spellbound by his relentless attacking style. The Brummie whine for which he was notorious out of the cockpit didn’t register on my eight year-old adulation of all things Mansell.
I might not have taken to the sport the way I did, had it not been for his stirring drive at the Hungaroring in 1989. Put it this way: No Nigel Mansell, no F1Fanatic.
For someone like me who came to his career late in the eighties, this 1988 biography looks a good bet.
When I picked up a second (or third, fourth or whatever) hand copy of “Driven to win” the other week I mentally filed it under the “cash-in biography, likely to be dross”. Don’t judge a book by its cover.
The Alain Prost book I read last week looked much the same and my fears proved justified. But “Driven to win”, though hardly Shakespeare, is really not that bad.
Where other driver biographies lack background detail on their subject, this is quite thorough and frank. I had to double check the part where he confessed to being a 14-stone bruiser in his youth.
That he owns up to these things in what is a fairly lightweight biography for his fans says something about Mansell – the 1908s-spec Mansell at least. He was not the calculating political type – Alain Prost stunned him with such trickery at Ferrari in 1990.
The tone of the book gets a little wearing – there’s quite a bit of self-justification going on here but equally you can’t deny that he did put himself through tremendous hardship to get into the sport.
Allsop’s prose is adequate but the constant switching between that and verbatim quotes from Mansell is a little jarring.
But I was surprised and quite happy with the level of insight this book gives. Even Mansell sceptics might have to concede that it’s not as bad as it might be. For that, there’s still his awful post-IndyCar autobiography co-written with James Allen…