Simon Tayor’s John, George and the HWMs, published by Evro Publishing, has won the Royal Automobile Club’s Specialist Motoring Book of the Year award for 2019.
This magnificent book, presented in two volumes within a slipcase, uncovers the history of the ambitious little HWM racing team. One of the judges, Mick Walsh of Classic & Sports Car, gave this verdict: “A definitive history that is both hugely enjoyable to read and superbly presented, Simon Taylor’s book is a terrific tribute to the HWM team.” Another judge, Gordon Cruickshank of Motor Sport, commented: “Enjoyable and of course well-written. Overdue in subject, excellent presentation, some great tales.”
Founded by John Heath and George Abecassis, the HWM racing team set out in 1950, the year of the Formula 1 World Championship’s inauguration, to race its Formula 2 cars all over Europe in a unique British endeavour. Always run on a shoestring, HWM’s single-seaters achieved great results in flying the flag with mainly British drivers, most notably young Stirling Moss. In 1954 the team turned to sports cars, sometimes beating its Jaguar and Aston Martin works competitors, but Heath’s death in the 1956 Mille Miglia was a tragic setback and the following year the team was wound up. Through the focus of HWM, Simon Taylor’s book paints an evocative picture of a period of motor racing that marked the beginnings of Britain’s prowess in the sport.
Simon Taylor said: “I have long felt that, as Britain began its long climb to the top of the international motor-racing tree, too few people knew about the vital role played by this forgotten marque. The more I researched the subject the more intriguing it became, as I sought to put HWM into the context of the fascinating era of early post-war racing during which these cars were active.
“Finding forgotten facts and unrevealed anecdotes, discovering long-lost photographs, examining each of the 17 surviving cars and meeting their owners — it was all a labour of love that absorbed me for many years. It is hugely satisfying that the finished result has received the seal of approval represented by this award.”
This is the fourth 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. In 2018 Karl Ludvigsen’s Reid Railton: Man of Speed won the Specialist award.
Eric Verdon-Roe, Chairman of Evro Publishing, said: “It is a fine accolade for our company, founded only six years ago, to have won our fourth RAC Motoring Book of the Year award. These awards are particularly prestigious because they are bestowed by the Royal Automobile Club and the six judges — all highly respected reviewers and booksellers — really know their motoring books.”
Simon Taylor (left) after receiving his award from the RAC’s Ben Cussons.