Motoring Book of the Year 2020

The stories behind two American motorsport legends – Richie Ginther and Shadow – have been awarded top honours in this year’s Royal Automobile Club Motoring Book of the Year Awards.

Richie Ginther: Motor Racing’s Free Thinker by Richard Jenkins scooped Motoring Book of the Year, which is presented to an exceptional book that is judged to have a wide appeal and which costs no more than £75.00. Specialist Book of The Year – awarded to a book that represents a feat of impeccable research and flawless writing regardless of its retail cost – went to Shadow: The Magnificent Machines of a Man of Mystery, written by Pete Lyons and published by Evro.

The awards – now in their seventh year – took place as a virtual event on Wednesday 28 October. The committee consists of six expert judges who are totally independent of the Royal Automobile Club and represent the UK’s most informed motoring literary critics, including Gordon Cruickshank of Motor Sport, Mark Dixon of Octane, Mick Walsh of Classic & Sports Car, and avid book collector and editor of the BRDC Bulletin Ian Titchmarsh. Representing the retail sector are Ben Horton of specialist bookseller Horton’s Books and Christian Whitehead of the London bookstore Foyles. Respected motorsport writer, commentator and historian Simon Taylor acted as a non-voting Chairman of the committee. “With previous hits such as Stephen South and 1994, Performance Publishing have done another great job with their latest book,” said Christian Whitehead in relation to Richie Ginther: Motor Racing’s Free Thinker. “The quantity and quality of the images found in this title are at a high standard and you are treated to a fascinating journey of an American star trying to race out of Phil Hill’s shadow.”

The first-ever authorised biography of Ginther covers the highs and lows that the diminutive Californian experienced throughout his career as a mechanic, driver and team manager. One of just five Americans to have won a Formula One World Championship Grand Prix, Ginther helped two of motor racing’s most iconic teams – BRM and Ferrari – to World Championship glory. He also scored Honda’s first Grand Prix victory, all of which is explored in significant detail by first-time author Richard Jenkins – as is Ginther’s free-spirited life after his racing career. Judges were impressed with the book’s value for money and the many first-hand accounts from Ginther’s family, friends and fellow racers.
“The doyen of motorsport journalism delivers another superb team history,” said Mick Walsh about Shadow: The Magnificent Machines of a Man of Mystery. “Pete Lyons does a masterful job on Don Nichols and his famous black racers.”

A D-Day paratrooper, Army counter-intelligence officer and entrepreneur, Nichols went on to create the Shadow racing team – the only US-based equipe to win a Can-Am championship, and one of only three to score a victory in Formula One. While history celebrates his rivals such as Dan Gurney and Roger Penske, the late Nichols has long remained a mysterious figure. The text is based on Lyons’ own extensive interviews with Nichols and many other key members of his organisation, including famed drivers George Follmer and Jackie Oliver as well as brilliant designers Trevor Harris and Tony Southgate.

It’s the first book to reveal the whole story of the Shadow cars and the enigmatic American ‘Shadowman’ who made it all happen. Gordon Cruickshank said: “Entertaining and well researched, it pulls aside the cloak of mystery that Don Nichols maintained around himself and his team.”

With its own library at Pall Mall housing in the region of 6,000 motoring books, a rich pedigree in celebrating motoring accomplishments and a heritage bound to the history of the motor car, it is only fitting that the Club continues to recognise excellence in motoring literature.
“The Royal Automobile Club Motoring Book of the Year Awards have become synonymous with celebrating the best automotive books, authors and publishers,” said Ben Cussons, Chairman of the Royal Automobile Club. “There was an overwhelming response this year, with 32 entries representing 24 different publishing houses – from international and independents to self-published authors. The rigour around the judging process was very impressive and given the quality of entries it proved a tough task for the judges to choose their overall winners. Congratulations to both the winners and finalists.”

Please click here to view a full virtual presentation of the Royal Automobile Club Motoring Book of the Year awards.

Motoring Book of the Year Runners Up:
• Louis Coatalen Engineering Impresario of Humber, Sunbeam, Talbot and Darracq by Oliver Heal (Unicorn Publishing Group LLP)
• A Race with Love and Death: The Story of Richard Seaman by Richard Williams (Simon & Schuster UK Ltd)
• The Complete Catalogue of the Land Rover by James Taylor (Herridge & Sons Ltd)
• Niki Lauda His Competition History by Jon Saltinstall (Evro Publishing)
• Design Between the Lines by Patrick le Quément (Merrell Publishers)

Specialist Book of the Year Runners Up:
• Claude Deane Western Australia’s Motor Dealer Extraordinaire by Graeme Cocks (Motoring Past Vintage Publishing)
• Ultimate Works Porsche 956 – The Definitive History by Serge Vanbockryck (Porter Press Intl Ltd)
• Sharknose V6 – Ferrari 156, Ferrari 246SP & Ferrari 196SP by Jörg-Thomas Födisch & Rainer Rossbach (McKlein Publishing)
• Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe – The autobiography of CSX2300 by Rinsey Mills (Porter Press Intl Ltd)
• Maserati in the World Sports Car and Manufacturers Championships from 1953 to 1966 by Michel Bollee and Jean-Francois Blachette (Syllabe Editions)
The Royal Automobile Club also awards a series of historic trophies and medals celebrating motoring achievements. These include the Segrave Trophy, the Tourist Trophy, the Simms Medal, the Dewar Trophy, the Torrens Trophy and the Royal Automobile Club Historic Awards.

For further enquiries please contact Rebecca Leppard.

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