By Jon Saltinstall
2023 review by James Loveridge
For many the careers of successful motor racing drivers are of considerable motoring historical interest. Volumes have been written about Fangio and Moss, Senna and Schumacher. Whilst the first two showed their ability in various forms of motor sport (Moss in the Mille Miglia stands out), their fame is principally as Grand Prix drivers. Not so much is recorded about other stars, particularly those who specialised in endurance racing. One such story is told in “JACKY ICKX: His Authorised Competition History” by Jon Saltinstall.
Quite a few top racing drivers started out on motorcycles. Most noteworthy is John Surtees, but then there were Tazio Nuvolari and, of course, good old Freddie Dixon and Mike Hailwood. This thought has been triggered by reading Jon Saltinstall’s book. Perhaps not so famous as the above named, Jacky Ickx is certainly one of the outstanding drivers who started on motorbikes. Indeed, he has 120 Formula 1 World Championship drives with 8 wins to his credit but, as this comprehensive record of his career shows, it was as an endurance driver that he made his mark.
The book is divided into year-by year-sections, though in “Motorcycle Prodigy” the years 1961 to 1966 are dealt with together. At the start of the section for each year there is a very useful summary of the significant events in Ickx’s life in that year. Every event in which he competed is recorded with many accompanying photographs either briefly or, for the significant events, at length. This format makes this an easy book to read and means specific events or developments can be readily found. Suffice it to say Ickx started competing in 1961 riding a 50cc Zundapp in local, small-scale motorcycle events in Belgium and, in his lengthy active career, progressed through national motorcycling champion to become one the world’s top endurance drivers with six Le Mans 24 Hour wins to his credit. It shows he competed in most forms of motor sport, including motorcycle trials, circuit racing, hill climbs and rallies. As has been said, he raced in Formula One but reached his peak in sports cars. He served the most thorough apprenticeship possible to reach the level he did.
Fortunate to be the son of a Belgian motorcycle champion and from a well-off family, he was provided at the start with machines with which to hone his undoubted ability, that ability quickly bringing him to the attention of sponsors so he got to use better and better machines. His undoubted skill was soon recognised and in 1963 he transitioned to motor cars, driving BMWs, Ford Cortinas and Mini Coopers in many events. He was a particularly good hill climber but also took to circuit racing such as the Spa 24 Hours in 1964. In 1965 he became Belgian Touring Car champion whilst, at the same time, performing his national service, which included doing silly things with AMX13 tanks. He was on his way.
His progress was rapid and he was quickly taken on by Alan Mann Racing and in 1964 was racing a Ford Cortina in the Budapest round of the European Touring Car Challenge as well as a private entry Mini Cooper in the Coupe des Alpes rally. In 1965 he did the Tulip Rally and had his first trip to America for the Marlboro 12 Hours in a Cortina. 1966 saw him graduate to the big time, driving an Equipe Francochamps Ferrari 250 LM in the Daytona 24 Hours.
Space does not here permit a detailed account of his activities over the next 20 or more years but the remaining 431 pages of this 608-page book giving reports of the total of the 483 events in which he competed more than adequately fill in the details. These, of course, cover his time in open-wheeler racing from Formula 3 to Formula 1; his times with Ferrari and Porsche; his six Le Mans wins as well as events at Spa, the Nürburgring and most other major circuits. His partnerships with Derek Bell, who wrote the foreword; Mario Andretti; Jochen Mass and Brian Redman feature. Also dealt with are his successes in the Paris-Dakar Rally towards the end of his career as well as a flirtation with powerboat racing. For completeness we are told he drove 30 makes, though many more models, of car competitively.
Ickx has continued to be involved with motor sport with appearances at the Goodwood Festival of Speed and being among the “presiding officials” at the Monaco Historic Grand Prix, among others. He comes over as the kind of man you would like to meet though it should be said he is no stranger to controversy, having been instrumental in getting the sprint across the track for the start of the Le Mans 24 Hours banned for safety reasons.
This book sets a benchmark for completeness and shows the immense amount of research Jon along with Jacky put into compiling it. Excellent.
The book with dust jacket is published by Evro Publishing, Westrow House, Holwell, Sherborne, Dorset, DT9 5LE priced at £95 as well as from the usual reputable dealers.
Publisher: Evro Publishing, https://evropublishing.com
Price: £95.00 plus p & p.
Description: 608 pages, hardback with dustjacket. 280mm x 235mm. Profusely illustrated with over 900 images.