Book of the week: 'Hobbo – Motor Racer, Motor Mouth'

David Hobbs' recollections and reflections on his enormously diverse career has finally made it to print with the release of his autobiography

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Confronting your parents after receiving a speeding ticket, or worse having damaged your car is something any young driver would rather forget. Now imagine how that would turn out if you’ve just rolled your dad’s Jaguar XK140 drophead coupé in your first ever race. Spinal Tap fans might call that, ‘turning it up to 11’.

But that was what lay before David Hobbs after crashing at Oulton Park in 1960. His dad had seen the incident on TV already and so coyly responded with, ‘You broke it, so you fix it’. Perhaps Hobbs’ father had even expected as much with the family’s Morris Oxford previously recovered from a visit to a ditch.

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Evro Publishing’s Hobbo, the autobiography by sportscar and Formula 1 driver-turned-TV pundit David Hobbs, is scattered with anecdotes that press home his unrelenting desire to succeed in motorsport – regardless of what family possessions were written-off or how much it angered his bosses at Jaguar while serving an apprenticeship.

American racer Sam Posey writes, in his very brief foreword, that Hobbs’ comparative lack of success would have made for a ‘slim book’. But the sheer diversity of Hobbs’ professional career – across Formula 1, Formula 5000, Can-Am, Trans-Am and sportscars – looked to be enough to compensate. Unfortunately it falls somewhat short, at times covering four years of top-flight motorsport in little more than 10 pages.

Speaking to Hobbs after the launch of his autobiography he was quick to declare that his memory has never been good. So he leaned on co-author Andrew Marriott to research results and that shows in the book.

At times little more than a sentence is dedicated to races with significant lead changes and consequences for the championships. Particularly for the likes of Hobbs’ stint in Trans-Am, a comparatively lesser known series, the book would have benefitted from greater detail had memory served.

In the very final pages Hobbs lists his favourite cars, circuits and co-drivers. Those at the top notably receive the greatest attention. With the Ford GT40 ranked number one, that’s no bad thing with his time at Gulf from 1968 through to ‘70 lavished with colour and infectious enthusiasm.

Through Hobbs’ own collection and with help from LAT Images, the pictures that accompany the text are stunning throughout. The atmosphere at races and the speed of the cars through an apex or on the Daytona banking leap out. That combined with the thick, glossy pages makes for a quality item – helping to justify a £50 RRP.

Overall Hobbo is a pleasing read that, at times, cannot helped but be laughed at due to Hobbs’ renowned sense of humour shining through. Where hardcore fans of 20th century motorsport might be expecting more detail and polish, the autobiography still works as a one-stop shop for those who desire a quick, easy read that covers a staggering number of disciplines.

In the acknowledgments, Hobbs references the book’s tricky birth. It’s been a decade in the making and had a change of co-authors and publisher during the gestation period. Thankfully, Hobbo survived the process and will be on sale from April 17.

Images courtesy of Evro Publishing and LAT

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