Back on Track by Alessandro Silva
Posted 15 April 2019 - 19:37
Long term members of the forum will know the author through his posts here and won’t need me to add anything about his knowledge and the thoroughness of his research. A few may have his book on OM cars.
The book deals with Racing in the 1940s - 340 races at 180 different venues, 626 drivers with their complete racing records and a list of 720 other drivers mentioned in the text. All cars that took part in the 340 races are listed by make and serial numbers with complete racing appearances. This is a badly under documented period of motor racing history but the book does much more than fill a gap. It seriously raises the bar for this type of racing history. If you have any interest in this period of racing you must have this book. If you do not have that interest, get it and you soon will have.
There are 1080 pages and 1073 images. The text is in English written, as far as I can tell, with the accuracy and precision that one would expect from a professor of mathematics. The design and production quality are superb with quality paper and a robust slipcase.
The acknowledgements mention, among othesr, Adam Ferrington, Richard Armstrong, Mattijs Diepraam, Jean-Maurice Gigleux, Tony Kaye, David McKinney, Barry Lake, Doug Nye, Rob Young, Aldo Zana and TNF itself.
It is produced in 300 numbered copies, all signed by the author. I don’t know whether there is a UK distributor; I ordered mine from the publishers, Fondazione Negri. They can be contacted at email@example.com. I found them helpful and prompt to deal with.
The cost is 180 euros, shipping to the UK was 20 euros. It is not cheap but true quality never is.
Posted 15 April 2019 - 20:10
Thanks for the tip Roger. Sounds like a Must Have...but try as I might I haven't yet found the title - nor how to order it - on that Negri website.
Edited by Doug Nye, 15 April 2019 - 20:16.
Posted 15 April 2019 - 20:41
Posted 16 April 2019 - 18:59
Bought and paid for, e-mail to the Fondazione Negri worked perfectly (as recommended). Now eagerly awaiting delivery. Thank you Roger.
Posted 16 April 2019 - 21:21
Hope one day I'll be able to pay for one, it seems amazing!!!!!!
Posted 17 April 2019 - 14:41
Mine arrived this morning, copy number 20. I am still literally paralysed by the amount of information that Alessandro Silva has been able to unearth on the darker four years of the century as far as motor-racing is concerned. A thousand and eighty pages of relevant information!
Not that this is a surprise at all -we had a glimpse of this work published at 8W sixteen years ago (!) - but it watered my eyes to see, on this also very special day for Leif Snellman (20 years of The Golden Era on the Net) that dreams can come true.
We are not orphans any longer as far as these years 45-49 is concerned. We now need to read, to learn and to claim ownership of the heritage that our authorities just swept under the carpet...and that was it.
Thank you, Alessandro Silva, thak also the (crazy) Italian editors, god bless them.
Posted 17 April 2019 - 17:07
Help!. I own up to being something of a duffer when it comes to todays technology. I have looked at the Negri website instructions on buying books and they advise you to click the appropriate title for details of payment etc. However the 'Back On Track' title is not listed. I have also contacted them and been given a Bank Transfer number which is something of a mystery to me. Has anyone managed to pay by debit card I wonder?. Any advice would be welcome, this looks too good to miss. .
Posted 17 April 2019 - 17:16
Here's a simple guide from Barclays; similar instructions should work for any bank.
If you don't do online banking there is a paper-based option.
Or, if you have a Paypal account, you should be able to pay them that way - just ask them which email address it should go to.
Posted 18 April 2019 - 20:59
Posted 24 April 2019 - 16:05
Book arrived promptly and safely last week. I thought I knew quite a bit about 1940s motor racing. Hah - forget that! Alessandro Silva's book is a master work on the period. I am super impressed. It is 1,079 pages of completely fascinating delight - jam-packed with information, insight, revelation and novelty...and the entire piece beautifully illustrated with some fascinating photographs - many of which I have never seen before - and revealing circuit maps. In particular the driver portraits and personality pictures are immensely impressive - and many of them in fact incredibly rare, wonderfully researched by the author and his friends - including a number of TNF regulars.
I have some minor quibbles about the book's production, text design is rather clumsy and unappealing, proof reading has fallen short in perhaps too many cases, and the chosen cover photograph is simply not sharp enough in focus to have been a wise choice for that purpose. The paper borders on being flimsy and therefore vulnerable to damage - though how thick a 1,000-page book might be with better paper is a totally justifiable limiting factor. Above all this economy surely minimises the price, and even including delivery costs the end-result price per platinum-plated page (in content terms) make this an absolutely terrific, wonderful, unmissable bargain!
So just don't prevaricate if 1940s racing is an interest - just dig deep and buy! I can promise you should certainly not regret it...
This is another of those volumes whose intrinsic and historic value will endure loooooonnnnng after the purchase price has been forgotten.
Well done Alessandro - and friends. Simply Superb.
Posted 08 May 2019 - 21:52
Just bringing this back to the top to mention that Alessandro's book is selling far faster than was originally expected. I suspect the 300 signed copies will sell out by the end of the year.
It has now made its way into some of the specialist booksellers - in the UK both Chaters and Hortons have it, as do Motors Mania in France and Autonet in the Netherlands (and possibly others elsewhere). You can see some sample illustrations and pages on Chaters' website. However, from Fondazione Negri's point of view, I believe they would still prefer to sell direct if possible, since this will mean they will hit their break-even point (and even profit!) more quickly.
I ordered using Paypal and it arrived from Italy in just over a week; in effect five working days, as I ordered on a Friday evening and it was delivered yesterday, the day after the bank holiday.
As Doug said above - just dig deep and buy!
Posted 09 May 2019 - 08:07
Seconded - a wonderful piece of work, filling in a huge gap in published motor sporting history. I just e-mailed Negri in Italy querying availability of the book and was contacted by return. A few days later I was immersed in it (the freshly-delivered book I mean). Very efficient.
And worth every penny.
Edited by Doug Nye, 11 May 2019 - 22:16.
Posted 09 May 2019 - 11:15
Same nice experience ordering it and a fabulous treat going through it. What a remarkable work! If you can buy only a book this year do go for this one, it definitely justifies its price.
Posted 09 May 2019 - 11:36
Posted 11 May 2019 - 13:09
It is actually Alessandro, not Negri, who will reach his break-even sooner if you buy direct from Negri.
However, from Fondazione Negri's point of view, I believe they would still prefer to sell direct if possible, since this will mean they will hit their break-even point (and even profit!) more quickly.!
So buying direct from Fondazione Negri directly helps Sandro in this magnificent endeavour.
Posted 18 May 2019 - 09:13
I've just received mine, copy 73 / 300. I have also ordered it from Fondazione Negri - prompt and effective service.
What an astonishing piece of work. Just speechless.
Frankly speaking, it is the most expensive book I've ever purchased. However, I didn't hesitate to purchase it when I read this thread some days ago. Worth every single euro. If you have to buy a recently-published book, this is the book.
Edited by a_tifoosi, 18 May 2019 - 09:13.
Posted 23 May 2019 - 13:01
Posted 27 May 2019 - 11:17
Secondly, indoor racing on those extremely short tracks (usual lap distances are 270, 230 or even only 160 meters!) is a category so far removed from European road racing that it is almost inconceivable that a driver trained in the latter sport will be able to compete, let alone win without years of practice. Even professional American racing drivers, with many years of experience in US short track racing, have found it difficult to race indoors, where up to a dozen cars spin around those tiny ovals every seven or eight seconds - Mario Andretti, for instance, a driver who can hardly be accused of lacking versatility, has never won an indoor midget race in his long career, and he's just the most famous name in a very long list. With that in mind, the appearance of a European Grand Prix driver at an American Midget track, especially one who had already raced at the famous Vanderbilt Cup races back in 1936, would surely have been used in pre-race publicity, but searching area newspapers does not yield any results containing various permutations of his names.
All of which is hardly conclusive evidence to the contrary, but it makes me wonder whether Raph actually learned something else while in America, namely the bragging about non-existant racing deeds in far-away locations, which was a frequently practiced form of self-promotion in North America during much of the thirties, forties and fifties - Europeans may be well aware of the fact that the Andretti brothers, for instance, used to claim to have started racing Formula Junior cars in Italy before moving to Pennsylvania in 1955 (which is nonsense, of course), and there are numerous other examples of this in evidence (for more detailed info on this practice, I recommend reading the article "Getting a Ride in the Fifties" by Eddie Sachs, in Dick Wallen's "Fabulous Fifties").
I must say that scientific annotations in general are a bit of a pet hate for me, as they make for very hard reading, and yet, while there are many footnotes, cross-references and source attributions in "Back on Track" (reducing the appeal of the book a great deal, in my humble opinion), none of them refer to this particular piece of information. Alessandro, if you read this, would it be possible to point me in the direction of the source for this claim, so that I may be able to perform further research to either refute or confirm the story? That would be much appreciated!!
Posted 01 June 2019 - 02:35
Based on all of the positive reviews here I too ordered a copy of this book. It certainly has not disappointed. One difference that I might advise to North American buyers is to consider buying from Chater's, rather than directly from the publisher. Doing this saved me USD 50 (total cost of about USD 250, rather than about USD 300), plus I literally had the book the day after I ordered it, as they sent it out via DHL Express. Perhaps best of all, their packaging was truly exceptional so I received it in absolutely perfect condition.