Karl Ludvigsen’s book Reid Railton: Man of Speed, published by Evro Publishing, has won the coveted Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot Award (English) for 2019. Presented by the Society of Automotive Historians in the United States, this award is made each year to the book that best advances the understanding of the history of the automobile.
Supported by Railton’s daughter Sally Railton Joslin, Reid Railton: Man of Speed is the first book dedicated to the life and career of Reid Antony Railton, automotive engineer par excellence and the creator of an extraordinary range of cars. He rose to renown during the 1930s as chief engineer at Thomson & Taylor, Brooklands-based racing-car builders. There he realised the dreams of that era’s top men of speed, including Tim Birkin, Malcolm Campbell, Whitney Straight, John Cobb, Raymond Mays and Goldie Gardner. His great cars powered them all to sensational racing and record-breaking success.
“It was the joy of a lifetime to have the opportunity to write about Reid Railton, whose work I have admired for many years,” said Ludvigsen. “I was especially happy for my work to be honoured this year, when the SAH celebrates its 50th anniversary. It is also significant for readers to be reminded of Railton at a time when the Bloodhound, another great British land-speed venture, is nearing its first major trial in South Africa. Its aerodynamicist wrote the book’s Foreword!
“I was lucky in finding revealing Railton vignettes such as his solving of a mysterious noise in a Hudson prototype. For a 21st-century audience I endeavoured to set Railton’s work within the context of his times so it could be better understood by the modern reader. I hope this contributes to a better appreciation of the career of an engineer who deserves to be ranked among the greats of Britain and the world.”
Published by Evro Publishing in April 2018, this magisterial two-volume work by one of the world’s foremost automotive historians tells Reid Railton’s personal and professional story in superb detail and fascinating depth. Set against the turbulent background of the 1930s and 1940s, its special focus is on Ludvigsen’s interpretation of Reid’s unique insights — amounting to genius — and technical accomplishments. All are illuminated in 1,000 images in this superbly designed and beautifully produced book.
The Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot Award (English) is this book’s fifth award and its second in the United States. Its other awards are the Mercedes-Benz Montagu of Beaulieu Trophy (presented by the Guild of Motoring Writers), the Royal Automobile Club’s Specialist Motoring Book of the Year, the Michael Sedgwick Award (presented by Society of Automotive Historians in Britain) and Best Automotive Heritage Book (presented by the Automotive Heritage Awards).