Pete Lyons’s Shadow: The Magnificent Machines of a Man of Mystery, published by Evro Publishing, has won the Royal Automobile Club’s Specialist Motoring Book of the Year award for 2020.
This hefty book, stretching to 464 pages and containing 600 illustrations, tells for the first time the story of the Shadow racing team, which was active for 11 seasons starting in 1970. One of the judges, Mick Walsh of Classic & Sports Car, commented: “The doyen of motorsport journalism delivers another superb team history.” Another judge, Gordon Cruickshank of Motor Sport, added: “Entertaining and well researched, it pulls aside the cloak of mystery that Don Nichols maintained around himself and his team.”
Enigmatic Nichols — D-Day paratrooper, Army counter-intelligence officer and controversial entrepreneur — created a racing marque that seems as cloaked as the man himself. Shadow was the only US-based team to win a Can-Am championship. and one of only three to score a victory in Formula 1. Pete Lyons lifts the veil from this secretive man and the innovative racing cars and world-class team he created. The author draws on considerable first-hand experience: he was present for Shadow’s two big débuts, in Can-Am at St Jovite in Canada (1970) and in Formula 1 at Kyalami in South Africa (1973), and his numerous interviews for the book included six days with Nichols himself not long before the ‘Shadowman’ died in 2017.
Pete Lyons said: “Ever since October 1971, I’ve believed that motorsport could bring me no more exciting occasion than the rocket ride around Riverside that Can-Am champion Peter Revson gave me in his stupifyingly fast McLaren M8F. As of October 2020, Revvie has a rival.
“This honour so generously bestowed on Evro Publishing and me has sent my personal tach needle perilously near the red. My deepest gratitude to the Royal Automobile Club, as well as to all who helped to tell the story of Don Nichols and his compellingly Quixotic racing team. Putting it together has been a joy.”
This is the fifth time an Evro book has won a Royal Automobile Club Motoring Book of the Year award. In the inaugural year of these awards, 2014, the honour went to Evro’s very first book, John Surtees: My Incredible Life on Two and Four Wheels. The 2016 winner was Brian Redman’s memoir Daring Drivers, Deadly Tracks. The Specialist award was given to Karl Ludvigsen’s Reid Railton: Man of Speed in 2018 and to Simon Taylor’s John, George and the HWMs in 2019.
Eric Verdon-Roe, Chairman of Evro Publishing, said: “The Royal Automobile Club’s awards are the most prestigious in our field of publishing and it is a very great honour to receive one. The real credit, of course, belongs to the esteemed Pete Lyons. I heartily congratulate him and thank him for teaming up with us.”
You can watch the awards here: