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ROGER WILLIAMSON – A collection of memories from friends, mechanics, rivals and family

By Kevin Guthrie and Darren Banks.

2023 review by Peter McFadyen

Having so nearly won the Michael Sedgwick Award with his first book, Stephen South: The Way It Was, and having followed it earlier this year with the publication of Gerry Birrell – Lost Before His Time, Darren Banks continues his valuable series of biographies of highly talented British racing drivers whose great potential was never fully realised. This time he rejoins forces with co-author Kevin Guthrie – writer of Jim Crawford – Lessons in Courage – to bring us the story of Roger Williamson who, with the unstinting support of the man responsible for the revival of Donington Park in the 1970s, Tom Wheatcroft, achieved his ambition of becoming a Formula 1 driver only to lose his life in only his second Grand Prix in one of the most infamous incidents ever witnessed in a major motor race.

Kevin and Darren’s previous cooperation was their book Tom Pryce – Memories of a Welsh F1 star by those who knew him, published in 2020, also by Performance Publishing, and they have taken the same approach here in that, rather than a chronological account of their subject’s life it is, as it says on the cover, a series of reminiscences from some of the many people who knew or met Roger during his racing career. Contributors include team members who worked to support him, fans who admired him and journalists who chronicled Roger’s career which took him from karting and club racing in his Ford Anglia through two successive British F3 Championships in 1971 and 1972 to his brief Grand Prix debut at the 1973 British GP at Silverstone where he fell victim to the Jody Scheckter-initiated first lap pile up. The Foreword is written by Tom Wheatcroft’s son Kevin and the Introduction by David Tremayne, motorsport writer and himself author of The Lost Generation  which similarly focussed on the life of Roger Williamson and also those of Tom Pryce and Tony Brise. Tremayne’s introduction includes a harrowing eye witness account of the aftermath of Roger’s fatal accident at Zandvoort which led to David Purley’s being awarded the George Medal for his vain attempt single-handedly to rescue his fellow driver and, eventually, to much needed improvements in race safety.

The book is well illustrated throughout by a truly impressive range of photographs, all well reproduced, and, notwithstanding the inevitable occasional overlap between the varied contributors’ reminiscences which the authors readily acknowledge, gives a fine impression of a young British driver whose very promising career was cut short just as it looked set to achieve its fulfilment.

Publisher: Performance Publishing Ltd. Unit 3 Site 4, Alma Park Road, Grantham, Lincolnshire, NG31 9SE

Price: £45.00 plus postage.

Description:   148 pages, hardback. 210mm x 270mm. Profusely illustrated.

ISBN: 978-1-7391249-3-9

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