Cart0 item(s) - £0.00

THE LIKELY LADS - A Celebration Of Formula 3 Racing 1964-70

THE LIKELY LADS - A  Celebration Of Formula 3 Racing 1964-70

A number of years ago a customer approached me with a request to help him sell a book he was about to self-publish . We get a few such requests from time to time and most never happen, but those that reach the print stage have generally been interesting and with our help have sold quite well. 

This was the first one however  and was to prove exceptional. The subject matter, all those non-championship F1 races we once enjoyed (The Oulton Park Gold Cup, Daily Express Tropy etc) really struck a chord with the public and not only did it sell out very quickly, the second hand value shot up from the original £16.99 cover price (which was actually very low for a large hardback even then) to over £100 . Not a bad debut effort. 

Nowadays that book THE FORGOTTEN RACES by Chris Ellard is considered something of a modern classic and one of those titles that you buy IF you can find one rather than WHEN that might be…let alone ‘find a cheap one’ … there are none of those around.

Fast forward a decade or so and the same author, Chris Ellard, produced a history of Formula 2 racing called SECOND TO NONE. This was about to go to print when news came though of a rival book on the formula by former AUTOSPORT staffer (and later PRO for the Toleman F1 team) Chris Witty.  This latter title would be based around the extensive archives of German photographer Jutta Fausel, much of which was ‘unseen’ , especially outside Germany, and it would include interviews with numerous ‘veterans’ like Hans Stuck  and Brian Henton.

With this heavy-hitter about to enter the ring  Chris Ellard and I discussed the viability of publishing SECOND TO NONE and it almost didn't happen.  As luck would have it the two books on Formula Two by the two authors called Chris didn't end up treading on each others toes. The Witty title stalled and hasn't yet seen the light of day, although we'd really love to stock it when it does appear  (as I understand is still the plan) while the Ellard book went ahead and like his first title, gained excellent revues in the magazines that matter, proved popular with the fans and sold very quickly .

Bringing the story forward to 2024 and Chris Ellard had been asked to write a book celebrating the 60th anniversary of the 1 Litre Formula 3 ,which had been such a feature of late 1960s motor racing all across Europe: Would I be happy to help him sell it? Of course I would!  And so, this week, several boxes of the book, THE LIKELY LADS arrived at my office . Quite by chance  I then found myself off work for a couple of days having hurt my back (books are a dead weight to lift…) . With nothing much on the TV that didn't involve buying a house , moving house, building a house or autioning something or other (often a house…) , I have relished the opportunity to sit back (carefully, propped up with cushions…) and read at my leisure for a change. So I am currently half way through THE LIKELY LADS as I write this!  

It's an engrossing read. Less a conventional year by year record and more a scrapbook of inter-connected memories, anecdotes and images that recal, often  first hand, the whole ‘scene’ as it was in that colourful “swinging sixties” era. The cars, the circuits, the fashions even…and is that a Great Train Robbery reference? Yes it is!  And it's connected to the story.

 Famous motor sporting names drip from each paragraph - Ronnie Peterson, Jackie Stewart, James Hunt,  Emerson Fittipaldi, Henri Pescarolo, Derek Bell, Peter Gethin, Francois Cevert, Clay Reggazoni, Carlos Pace, Gijs van Lennep… and thats just those who went on to win in F1 or at Le Mans. So many more ‘Likely Lads’ played a major role in the sport over the following few decades  (Frank Williams, Howden Ganley, Tim Shenken,  Tony Trimmer, Ian Ashley, Chris Craft, Piers Courage, Bib Evans, John Miles, Dave Walker, Reine Wisell , Tony Lanfranchi etc etc) and many of them get to tell their tale. Some are comic, some alarming… Mike Walker only found out he had been revived from being ‘clinically dead’ after a huge crash at Crystal Palace  when the doctor who restarted his heart wrote to him several years later!

This was an era when running in F3 was not the preserve of mliionaire's offspring as it has become in the past few decades. Instead of a huge truck, a large team of mechanics, a personal manager, a trainer and a roster of sponsors names, the drivers of this earlier era used humble estate cars or VW camper vans to tow thier Brabham, Lotus, Chevron or Tecno single seaters around on open trailers,  and apart from the ‘works’ teams, often relied on a freind or two to ‘spanner’ the car. They also made do on prize and start-money offered by race organisers in the days when this kind of formula attracted big crowds through the turnstiles.  All very different. Also very dangerous. The book does not avoid the tragic side of the sport, the numerous fatalities and serious injuries. ‘Geki’,  Bolly Pittard and Chris Lambert were just three of the front runners who paid the ultimate price at circuits still boasting very little consideration for the driver's safety. 

And it's not just the drivers that are celebrated. Teams like Graham Warner's CHEQUERED FLAG which came to prominence ithrough this formula, gurus like Ken Tyrrell who's protege Jackie Stewart was the inaugural champion and the Knight brothers of Winfield Racing Drivers School fame who fostered the careers of so many (particulary French) drivers at the time, feature prominently.  

As respected F1 journalist David Tremayne wrote in his review for GRAND PRIX+ezine  “Packed with anecdotes, it's exactly my kind of book, nicely put together and well illustrated with evocative images” 

The book with a glorious, specially comissioned, cover painting by Andrew Kitson  is a chunky 200 page softback crammed with nostalgia and it's available from us now at £22 plus postage  CLICK HERE to see the relevent page where orders can be made at the click of a mouse and payment options include Visa, Mastercard, Apple Pay and Paypal .

Given Chris Ellard's track record for producoing  ‘sell out’ titles that rapidly rise in price on the second-hand market, don't leave it too long if you want a copy!