erasing clouds

Book Review: Richard Williams, The Last Road Race - The 1957 Pescara Grand Prix

by anna battista

Nowadays car races take place on proper circuits and the ability of the drivers is often shadowed by their sponsors. But there was a time when races were more about the drivers and the engines of their cars, and the circuits were formed by ordinary roads with no artificial features. We can remember for example, the race called 'Coppa Acerbo' which took place every year on 15th August in Pescara, an Italian seaside resort on the Adriatic Coast, from 1924 (when it was won by a young Enzo Ferrari) on, and was with its 25 Km the longest circuit in the world championship. After being interrupted for World War II, the 'Circuito di Pescara', as the 'Coppa Acerbo' was called after the conflict, took place for a last time in 1957 (though it briefly resurfaced again in 1960 and 1961) because, like all the other car races running through towns, it was deemed too dangerous.

Richard Williams, chief sports writer for the British newspaper The Guardian, has retraced in his book The Last Road Race - The 1957 Pescara Grand Prix (Weidenfeld & Nicolson) the emotions, fears and joys of that last 1957 race. Starting on the morning of 15th August 1957, when the last straw bales to protect drivers and spectators were put along the circuit and one of the pilots, Stirling Moss was getting ready for the day, Williams tells the story of the race, analysing its circuit, giving us insights on various car manufacturers, such as Ferrari, Vanwall and Maserati, and following Moss to the finishing line.

Though you might think this is just a book for car races connoisseurs and fans, The Last Road Race captures the attention of readers who aren't experts. Indeed Williams manages to conjure up in its pages the heat of that day, the passion of the pilots and of the crowds and the dangers of the legendary race also thanks to his interviews with Jack Brabham, Tony Brooks, Stirling Moss and Roy Salvadori. Dedicated to all those ones who, like Moss, still think that the Circuito di Pescara was "what racing is all about".


Issue 23, May 2004

this month's issue
about erasing clouds

Copyright (c) 2005 erasing clouds