Choosing a car at dealership. Thoughtful grey hair man in formalwear leaning at the car and looking away
Last Saturday night, I did what I often do late in the evening when there’s nothing on television: I went over to the shelves in our family room, closed my eyes, reached up to the motorsport section and pulled down a book.
I own a lot of books, a veritable library of all things auto racing. In fact, every time I walk into the Library Room at Canadian racing driver Scott Maxwell’s Mini Grid store, I swear I’m looking at my bookcase.
In any event, the book that wound up in my hands last Saturday night was The Cruel Sport: Grand Prix Racing 1959-1967, a reissue of a classic published in the late 1960s by Robert Daley.
Now, I once had an original copy of this work and devoured it time and again. It was the first definitive photo book accompanied by essays of what was then an emerging auto racing spectacle and you could read it again and again and simply inhale the sights and smells and romance and noise that just leaped off every page.
I’ve moved many times in my life and somewhere along the way I lost that book.
But about two years ago, I was in Autophile (another of my haunts) and there it was (a reissue) and I pulled out my credit card and bought a copy on the spot.
Although it was coincidence that I happened to start reading it again last Saturday night, it was also a symbolic choice because the end of that particular era â€” 1967 â€” marked the beginning of Formula One racing in Canada and next year will be the 40th anniversary of the first Grand Prix of Canada (at Mosport on Aug. 27 of that Centennial year).
I was reminded of this anniversary when I started phoning around to do research for this year’s Motorsport Christmas gift column, which you are now reading.
TRANSPORT BOOKS AT DRB MOTORS INC.
16 Elrose Ave.
I was chatting with proprietor Jim Roseborough, and before you could say “Jack Brabham” (who won that first Canadian GP), he was telling me about the celebration being planned for Mosport next summer when the Vintage Auto Racing Association of Canada will hold its annual festival there.
Lots of F1 cars from that era and, hopefully, many of the participants of that first Grand Prix will be in attendance. It sounds like a swell time.
But talking about Brabham, Roseborough suggests a great gift this Christmas would be The Jack Brabham Story, a “lavishly illustrated” book he has for sale for $50.
Said Roseborough: “Sir Jack’s incredible career spanned 1953-1970 and he remains the only driver to win an F1 World Championship in a car bearing his name.”
Roseborough also pointed out that Bruce McLaren was in that first race in 1967, “and was a crowd favourite every time he visited Mosport. I would also recommend McLaren Memories by his long-time friend, Eion Young. It’s only lightly illustrated but very well written for $44.95.”
Oh, Roseborough also has copies of The Cruel Sport on hand ($65).
And he also said this:
“The coming year’s big bestseller in motorsports books is bound to be Rapid Response: My Inside Story as a Motor Racing Life-Saver, by Dr. Stephen Olvey (for many years medical director of the CART series). The forword is by Alex Zanardi.
“This book details Dr. Olvey’s medical career in motor racing with insights into some famous crashes as well as the evolution of motorsport safety. We’re selling this book for $38.95 and the first print run is selling out fast.”
850 Eglinton Ave. E.
I was good friends with the late owner, Richard Stafferton, because we had a lot in common: we were about the same age, loved motorsport, and we both became fathers relatively late in life. So we talked a lot about babies as well as Brabham.
Time flies. His kid, Henry, and my boy, Duncan, are both 10 years old now. His wife Trish still has the business and I still buy stuff there. I was in the shop earlier this year and picked up a treasure: Grand Prix! Rare Images of the First 100 Years, by Quentin Spurring and I highly recommend it.
From the beginnings of road racing in Europe up until the mid-1960s, the images are in black and white. From 1967 to the present, they are in glorious colour.
“We have Grand Prix! and are selling it for $58.95,” Stafferton said this week.
“Our prize offering this year, however, is a limited-edition book that was recommended to us and we tracked down. It’s called Emotion Ferrari, Europe 1947-1972 and retails for $269.95. It’s a beautiful book â€” captivating and surprising: It was a glorious era for Ferrrari, 1947-1972, and this book captures it perfectly.”
Stafferton suggests a good DVD to purchase would be 50 Years of Formula 1 On-Board. I have a copy and I agree that it’s a gem. Said Stafferton:
“It’s the ultimate F1 experience. You’re in the driver’s seat with all the greats â€” Fangio, Moss, Stewart, Senna and Schumacher to name a few.” It can be had for $40.
608 Mount Pleasant Rd.
Not too far from Autophile, this store has become a bit of a racing headquarters in Toronto. Owned by American LeMans Series driver Scott Maxwell (he’ll be racing a Panoz again next year), it probably has more “depth” than any other specialty shop in the GTA in that you can purchase just about everything there â€” from motorsport magazines, books, DVDs and games to models and fine art.
Plus, another champion Canadian racer, David Empringham, has an office there, so you can drop in to make a purchase and maybe even run into a celebrity at the same time!
On the book front, Maxwell recommends a biography of two-time Indy 500 winner Roger Ward, called, natch, Roger Ward, Superstar of American Racing’s Golden Age, by Mike O’Leary ($48). He also suggests All Arms and Elbows, an autobiography by 1950s Grand Prix driver Innes Ireland ($61), who later became a top-flight motorsport journalist.
Mini Grid’s DVD display includes the movie Grand Prix, (the John Frankenheimer epic just released this year on DVD and starring James Garner, Yves Montand and Eva Marie Saint) as well as Winning (Paul Newman, Robert Wagner and Joanne Woodward), Cars, (we all saw it this year and it’s great!), Le Mans (Steve McQueen), The Italian Job (Michael Caine) and Easy Rider (Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper â€” a 1969 “road-awakening” movie that brought tears to the eyes of my generation at the time but has not aged well, if you catch my drift).
Most DVDs sell for $14 to $45.
Maxwell pointed out Grand Prix to me, but then suggested he expects the best-selling DVD at his shop this Christmas will be Lap of the Gods, A Driver’s-Eye View. This is similar to 50 Years of Formula 1 On-Board but restricts itself to the years 1975-’85. Murray Walker does the narration and viewers can ride along with Andretti, Lauda, Mansell, Piquet and Prost.
Sounds exciting to me â€” for $56.
Auto Grotto Automobilia
Distillery District, 55 Mill St., Building 32, Suite 102
You want eclectic, go to this place.
How about a 1965 Corvette Owner’s Guide? You can buy an original here for $40 or a reproduction for $20. One’s real, one’s not â€” and it’s tough telling the difference.
How about a 1956 Grand Prix of Monaco poster? That will set you back $250, but will look outstanding in your rec room.
Opened a little more than a year ago by Len Curtis (with help from his son, Michael), the store offers everything from muscle car key chains to automobile cufflinks to men’s toiletries.
For instance (and I love this sort of thing), you can buy “Heavy Duty” men’s body scrub for $16.75 and it comes in a container that looks like a litre of motor oil. Shaving cream ($15), bar soap ($6.50) and lip balm ($5.50) is all “Heavy Duty.”
You can have a red Ferrari deerskin leather jacket for $250, which also is not a bad deal.
Curtis, a self-described “car guy all my life â€” I always have two or three `classics’ around at a time” â€” opened the store with this aim in mind: “I wanted people to walk in and say, `Wow, you have a lot of great stuff here.’
“And if I didn’t have something someone wanted, I’d offer to find it for them. A fellow walked in and wanted a model 1967 E-type Jaguar in green. I found it for him. So there are a couple of collectors I work for.”
Auto Grotto is the authorized dealer of the comic art of Guillermo Forchino. You’ve seen his sculptures: cars ranging from ’57 Chevies to American dirt-track racers where the lines are all straight, but they’re not, and the characters in the cars all have big noses and bad teeth.
It’s funny stuff.
Here are some other stores and suggestions:
283 Port Union Rd.
This place is Paul Tracy Central, and it’s not far from where the “Thrill from West Hill” grew up. Models, paintings, replica helmets, NASCAR calendars â€” you name it, they have it.
763 Warden Ave.
Want your garage to look like the ones you see in the racing magazines that are so spotless you think you could eat breakfast off the floor? Where everything has its place and you know where everything is?
These folks can work their magic on your garage and after they’ve finished you’ll feel guilty about driving your slush-covered car into it.
Joe Russo’s Prestige Auto Art and Gift Gallery
101 Yorkville Ave.
Joe’s big on Porsche this year. He has a die-cast model of a Porsche 956L that Jackie Ickx drive to victory in the 1982 24 Hours of Le Mans going for $100.
And he has a whole lot of Porsche Design items in stock, too. Porsche Design sunglasses start at $280 and go up to $500; cufflinks start at $195 and stop at $360 and the one I absolutely adore, the Porsche Design cigar humidor that fits perfectly into the glove box of your Porsche, can be yours for $850.
Collector Studio â€” Motorsport Gallery
136 Yorkville Ave.
This is the high-end place in this town. Yes, there are some things in there that you could say are priced reasonably (a half-scale model of Fernando Alonso’s 2006 Championship Arai helmet, with working visor, straps and complete interior can be had for $120) but, for the most part, if you want to leave with anything in this shop you’d better have a platinum credit card. For instance:
- Owner Morry Barmak has the 1948 Mille Miglia Trophy, the original trophy handed to the Biondetti Ferrari 166 #003S team, which was Ferrari’s very first win at the Mille Miglia. This trophy is a significant part of Mille Miglia and Ferrari history and is fit for a museum or serious collector.Price: $65,000.
- Or how about a 2006 Michael Schumacher Chinese GP race-day suit, signed and dated with the annotation “#91,” signifying Michael’s 91st (and very last) victory. This is also his final “Marlboro” suit.Morry has not put a price on this suit. He’s taking offers.