ARE ANY OF THESE NAMES FAMILIAR TO YOU?
FRED ALLEN*CAMERON ARGETSINGER*S.H.ARNOLT*DAVID ASH*BOB BALLENGER*HANK BECKER*JOHN GORDON BENNETT*JOHN BENTLEY*ART AND DUTCH BROW*HUBERT BRUNDAGE*RALPH CADWALLADER*JIM AND SALLY CARROLL*SAM AND MILES COLLIER*HARRY CONSTANT*DENVER CORNETT*TOM COUNTRYMAN*BRIGGS CUNNINGHAM*DAVID E. DAVIS JR.*BOB DICKENS*CHUCK DIETRICH*SUZY DIETRICH*FRANK DOMINIANNI*BOB DONNER*RALPH DURBIN*FRED EGLOFF*GUS EHRMAN*CHARLIE ELLMERS*BOB FERGUS*JOHN FITCH*FUNNY FACE RACE TEAM*RICHIE GINTHER*CAL GLEASON*ISABELLE HASKELL*CHUCK HASSAN*CHUCK HENRY*PHIL HILL*BOB HOLBERT*ED HUGUS*DICK IRISH*ROWLAND KEITH*LEROY KRAMER*HAIG KSAYIAN*BOB LARSON*ED LICHT*OTTO LINTON*BILL LLOYD*BOB LOSSMAN*KARL LUDVIGSEN*EBBY LUNKEN*SANDY MACARTHUR*HENRY MANNEY III*DON MARSH*JACK MCAFEE*STEVE MCQUEEN*KEN MILES*BILL MILLIKEN*CHARLES MORAN*AL MOSS*ALAN PATTERSON*BILL POLLACK*BOB SAID*ART SEYLER*BOB SHEA*CARROLL SHELBY*BILL STAUFER*BRUCE STEVENSON*CHUCK STODDARD*JOHN TAME*DICK THOMPSON*LAKE UNDERWOOD*GEORGE VALENTINE*BILL VICTOR*JOHN VON NEUMANN*FRED WACKER*HARLEY WATTS*HERB WHITING*BILL WONDER*DOC AND PEGGY WYLLIE*SHERRIE ZUCKERT
They all started in MGs, but quickly moved on to Alfas, Abarths, Stanguellinis and Ferraris. Don’t let the title of Carl Goodwin’s first book, appropriately enough “They Started in MGs” put you off. Goodwin, who has been writing about the early days of SCCA racing for years, began a series of articles for the “Classic MG” magazine, with the idea that most American road racers began their careers in MGs. The idea and concept grew and before long Carl had far too much material for the magazine but enough, more than enough for a book; profiles of eighty drivers (all listed above), rich and famous, well known and little known, successful and unsuccessful, who first raced with an MG. In almost all cases, however, those same drivers quickly got a seat in a faster, usually Italian car. Goodwin, who has owned Alfas, a Fiat-Abarth Zagato coupe and an Allemano roadster as well as Siatas, makes sure that not only are the cars mentioned but provides over 40 unpublished photos of Alfas, Ferraris, Siatas, Bandinis, etc. from a variety of archives. Sandy MacArthur, for example, may have started with an MG, but he sure made his mark with Giaurs and Bandinis; Chuck Stoddard with Alfas, and Otto Linton with Siatas.
Carl Goodwin began writing in 1963, for William D. Ellis at Editorial Services in Cleveland, and spent 42 years in advertising there and in Detroit on a number of automotive accounts. He has also written articles for Classic MG, Vintage Motorsport, Vintage Racecar, Classic Motorsports, 356 Registry, Forza, Cavallino, and Automobile Quarterly. He has won eight of the International Automotive Media Awards and three from the Society of Automotive Historians.
Goodwin is one of the hard working journalists who tend to do things the old way. Most of his material is in the form of first person interviews, face to face or by telephone. He found one driver and would ask about another, and the list grew and grew. He was smart and good enough to find and interview most of the drivers while they were still vertical, and found friends and relatives to tell the story when the principle had passed away. Said Goodwin “rather than try to do full biographies, I tried to paint with a wide brush, to provide a portrait of the era.” Some chapters are only one page long, others are several pages, depending on the subject and available photos and material.
But thankfully many are still around, for they are a tough lot who enjoyed life to the fullest and aren’t about to give up on it soon. Ninety something Otto Linton, the Siata and OSCA pilot who began his career in 1948 at Watkins Glen (with an MG), will be honored at a VSCCA Luncheon on December 4th. Dick Irish, who also began his career in 1951, is an active VeloceToday reader whose comments can be found throughout our pages. John Fitch, who was on the Mercedes Benz racing team in the mid fifties, is also still a leading advocate for track safety.
The book is softbound, longing to be bound with a good hard cover and glossy illustrations. Nevertheless, the publisher, McFarland & Company, did a very nice job of reproducing the black and white photos, which are very nicely laid out with each chapter. This is not an electronic book but a well done softbound production. There are no color images. A down side to the book is that most of the drivers portrayed participated in and hailed from the Midwest, Goodwin’s old stomping ground. But he has enough material for another such book, perhaps with a wider reach.
Sources and credits. While not annotated, Goodwin has provided a bibliography listing the dates of the interviews with primary and secondary sources. “Ninety five percent of the content consists of interviews with the racing driver featured, their friends, relatives, competitors, photographers, mechanics, racing officials and spectators.” Augmenting that is a list of books and periodicals. Also helpful is a comprehensive index that includes both people and cars.
Disclaimers: Carl Goodwin often writes for VeloceToday and has sold two Alfas and his Siata via the pages of VeloceToday; this reviewer urged him to publish the book. Therefore we have published a chapter of his book on Otto Linton in this issue so that you can make an independent judgment.
And of course, if any of the above names are familiar to you, buy the book. If not, then you need the book!
“They Started in MGs” has 291 pages, 278 photos and is 7 by 10 inches. The ISBN is 978-0-7864-6052-6. Price is $35.00 plus shipping and is available on Amazon.com or McFarland Publishing at www.mcfarlandpub.com, 1-800-253-2187.