Fifty years ago Mike Hawthorn became the first British driver to win the world championship. But after claiming the championship for Ferrari Hawthorn announced he would not defend his title and would retire from motor racing.
Enzo Ferrari met Cliff Allison at the London Motor Show at Earls Court and invited him to Modena to test a Grand Prix car. In March 1959, Allison started his first race as a Ferrari driver.
It was the culmination of a remarkable journey by a man born in a humble village just north of the Yorkshire Dales who became a driver of the most adored racing cars in the world.
This biography majors on the details of Allison’s racing career which is entirely understandable given that’s what most people will be interested in about his career. I would have liked a little more detail on what he did after quitting racing in 1961, following a serious crash at Blanchimont in Spa where he broke both his legs. From there the book fast-forwards to his final days and death from a heart attack in 2005.
Several of Allison’s contemporaries lend their accounts of him, and there’s a good selection of images too from Allison’s own archive. One that caught my eyes shows Allison’s Ferrari shunted at Monaco with Wolfgang von Trips and Bruce Halford – and the three of them walking away together, perhaps to one of Monte-Carlo’s bars.
This was always going to be a niche title for the more historically-inclined fan – one of many such books produced by Veloce that makes a welcome break from the usual. I do find their layout a bit off-putting and hard to read, and the asking price is rather high. But that won’t dilute a Ferrari fan’s enjoyment of this well-written biography of one of the Britain’s lesser-known F1 racers.
F1 Fanatic rating
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