by Philip Newsome
2023 review by James Loveridge
“TRACKSIDE: Four Decades of Motorsport Photography” by SAHB member Philip Newsome is essentially a pictorial memoir. It records several decades of interest in and, in the case of Macau, a close involvement with different sorts of motorsport. The breadth of Philip’s interests is made clear by the chapter headings he has chosen: Formula One, Beach Racing, Macau Grand Prix, Historic Racing, Endurance Racing and Oval Racing. His enjoyment of all types comes through in the selection of photographs and the accompanying text. He shows his catholicity by choosing to use the word “beautiful” to describe a line of “as found” but definitely hot-rodded Model A Fords on page 50!
This book does not focus on a car, an event or a driver but it does achieve its object of portraying the atmosphere of the numerous motorsport events and occasions which he has attended – though not always with a Press Pass. It acknowledges the many people who participate, not just the few who drive competitively but the many more who support the sport by building, tending, marshalling and watching. It recognises the contribution of females – not just as competitors but as a reminder that pretty girls have always been a feature of motor sport, sexist as that may be.
It does not seek to ignore the risks run and willingly accepted by those taking part. The carnage, but fortunately not to those individuals involved, created when the almost inevitable multi-vehicle pileup occurs is vividly demonstrated. Shown too is the ever present hazard of a racing accident, in this case in the relatively low speed world of Vintage racing. As Philip explains, our mutual friend has made a full recovery, has rebuilt the Austin 7 and is back competing in it. That is part of the ethos of motor sport that the book reflects.
Philip makes clear that, although obviously a very skilled photographer, he is not a professional; his career has been in dentistry, in which he held a professorship at Hong Kong University for several years. It was while living and working in Hong Kong that he got interested in and then involved with the Macau Grand Prix. This particularly demanding round-the-houses event is probably unique, as top-class motorcycle racers as well as car drivers appear at the same event. Many Formula One champions such as Schumacher, Vettel, Verstappen, Button and Hamilton have shown their early skills on this very demanding circuit. They, as well as motorcycle and touring car aces, are shown, as is the tricky course on which they competed.
Doctor Newsome can be described as a “proper” motorsport fan and this attractively produced book shows the breadth of his interests. It seems he does not attend events just to watch the competitions; hill climbs and sprints can be quite demanding to watch as the few seconds of on-track activity are often interspersed with longer periods when the only signs of activity are in the pits or paddock. To him that is irrelevant; it is the whole ambiance that attracts him as it does so many other enthusiasts, and he has captured that admirably.
This landscape, hardback, 196-page book is printed on semi-gloss paper and is lavishly illustrated. There are signs of less than perfect proofreading but this does not detract.
Publisher:Blue Flag Press, 4 Somerville Place, Burford, Oxfordshire OX18 4FA. Copies are also available from Hortons.
Price: £38.00 plus p&p directly from the publishers.
Description: 196 pages, hardback published without dust jacket. 217mm x 266mm. Photos in black & white and colour.