Now in his 17th year as a motor racing commentator, Martin Brundle is known to one generation of Formula One fans chiefly for his excellent commentary.
But that role was preceded by (and overlapped with) a successful racing career. It may not have brought him an F1 championship title or a grand prix win, but did see him crowned World Sportscar Champion in 1988 and clinch victory at Le Mans two years later.
A racer to his fingertips, Brundle was one of the last F1 drivers to regularly dovetail his grand prix commitments with sports car racing. The breadth of his racing activities and accomplishments is explored at length in the newly-published Martin Brundle Scrapbook.
It details his famous F3 rivalry with Ayrton Senna, touring car scraps with Nigel Mansell and playing mind games with The Intimidator of NASCAR, Dale Earnhardt, in the IROC series. And there’s also the small matter of 158 grand prix starts for teams including McLaren, Benetton, Williams, Brabham and Tyrrell.
Porter Press’s Scrapbook series already has editions for great F1 names like Stirling Moss and Graham Hill. As you’d expect from the name the books lean heavily on photographs, newspaper cuttings and other memorabilia to tell the story. These are interspersed with comments from Brundle himself as well as other racing drivers, former team managers and so on.
This approach brings mixed success. On one hand it’s an easy book to ‘dip into’ and find some interesting highlights – his one-off appearance in the inaugural British Truck Grand Prix at Donington Park in 1984, for example.
But actually sitting and reading it as you would a normal biography is a rather frustrating experience. The fragmented nature of the layout makes it hard to get into the flow of the narrative.
Some of the ‘scraps’ feel a bit whimsical and unnecessary – I’m not particularly interested in looking at his old school reports and swimming certificates. That’s not a criticism you can make about the majority of material in the book, however.
And there’s plenty of it. The sheer volume of material on offer – 256 wide pages crammed with content – more than makes up for the shortcomings in presentation. You get a serious amount of book for your 35 quid.
Shining through it all is Brundle’s appealing and frank style which makes him such a popular television personality. He is entirely straight about his own abilities (“I occasionally beat Senna, Schumacher and Hakkinen but I didn’t do that anywhere near often enough”) and has stacks of amusing and interesting anecdotes which I won’t spoil by repeating here.
Though I have some reservations about the style, there’s plenty of substance in the Martin Brundle Scrapbook which makes it definitely worth shelling out for.
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Martin Brundle Scrapbook
Author: Martin Brundle and Philip Porter
Publisher: Porter Press
Published: July 2013
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