The entertaining and revealing autobiography of Damon Hill has scooped the Club’s Motoring Book of the Year award for 2017.
The 1996 Formula 1 World Champion – and one-time London motorcycle courier – was on hand to receive the prestigious award at a special ceremony held last night (Wednesday 1 November) in Pall Mall.
In a superb selection of entries for the award, now in its fourth year, Hill’s book entitled Watching the Wheels: My Autobiography (published by Pan Macmillan) received high praise from several of the judges. One of them declared that it is ‘a fabulously frank and cerebral account… one of the very finest sports biographies of its generation.’
In the book, Hill recounts his rise to on-track stardom, which included 22 grands prix wins and 42 podium finishes. He also writes movingly of his father, legendary racing driver Graham Hill, and of life at the head of his own large family.
The wholly independent judging panel* also awarded the ‘Specialist Book Of The Year’ prize for an impressive feat of research and endeavour to Delage – Champion Du Monde by Daniel Cabart & Christophe Pund, published by Orep Editions. One of the judges said it ‘vividly covers development, competition, drivers, and individual chassis histories.’
The four runners-up were: Red Dust Racers by Graeme Cocks (Motoring Past Vintage); Jaguar C-type: The Autobiography Of XKC 051 by Chas Parker and Philip Porter (Porter Press); Stephen South: The Way It Was by Darren Banks (Performance Publishing); and Continental Journeys: The Definitive History Of The Bentley R-type and S-type Continental Models From 1952 to 1965 by David Bassoli (Nubes Argentea).
Peter Read, the Chairman of the Club’s Motoring Committee, said. ‘The Club’s library at Pall Mall is already among the finest in the world, and fortunately for us there’s no shortage of exceptional new titles we’d like to add to it. Our independent judges undertake an incredible task for us, and it’s satisfying that the 2017 winner Watching The Wheels by Damon Hill is an excellent read with the widest possible appeal.
‘Meanwhile, Cabart and Pund’s Delage – Champion Du Monde, is an example of fresh research and beautiful production of which we wholeheartedly approve.’
Among other invited guests on the evening was Howden Ganley, another well-known ex-Formula 1 driver who announced that he will be reviving Motor Racing Publications – one of Britain’s most famous car publishing imprints. Ganley discussed aspects of his life and career in and around the motor sport world, as well as revealing his plans for ‘MRP’ as he aims to reinstate it as an important British publisher of new motoring titles.
*The judges for the Award are leading specialist bookseller Ben Horton of Hortons Books; Gordon Cruickshank of Motor Sport magazine; Mark Dixon, deputy editor of Octane; commentator and reviewer Henry Hope-Frost; Mick Walsh, international editor of Classic & Sports Car magazine; Christian Whitehead from London bookstore Foyles; and Tom Wiltshire of Auto Express magazine.
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