John, George and the HWMs: The first racing team to fly the flag for Britain
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By Simon Taylor
Foreword by Sir Stirling Moss OBE
Winner of two awards:
- Specialist Motoring Book of the Year, Royal Automobile Club (UK, 2019)
- Mercedes-Benz Montagu of Beaulieu Trophy, Guild of Motoring Writers (UK, 2019)
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, this two-volume masterpiece paints an evocative picture of a period of motor racing that marked the beginnings of Britain’s prowess in the sport.
- Volume 1 covers the story of the racing (1946–57) and Volume 2 covers the 19 individual cars and the men who raced them (1948–58).
- The beginnings of HWM (the initials of the garage Hersham and Walton Motors) and the two key characters behind the team — smooth, sanguine George Abecassis and mercurial, parsimonious John Heath.
- Racing the single-seaters around Europe (1950–53) with Stirling Moss, Lance Macklin and Peter Collins among the drivers.
- Switching to sports cars (1954–57), competing in Britain and across Europe, sometimes beating the big names.
- The individual histories of all the HWMs made are told in full, complete with their specifications and ownership chains.
- Coverage includes biographies of many of the fascinating and poignant people associated with HWM.
- Packed with superb period photos sourced from libraries and private collections all over the world.
- UK price: £130
- ISBN: 978-1-910505-32-8
- Format: 280x235mm
- Two hardback volumes within a slipcase
- Page extent: 328pp and 208pp (two volumes)
- Illustration: over 500 photographs
Simon Taylor has been immersed in motor sport for over 50 years as a journalist, commentator, publisher and historian. He joined the weekly magazine Autosport straight from university, and was its editor by the age of 23. He became a publisher for its proprietors, Haymarket Magazines, devising and launching other car magazines such as What Car? and Classic & Sports Car, and went on to be the company’s Managing Director and then its Chairman. He was BBC Radio’s voice of motor racing for more than 20 years, reporting on Formula 1 from all over the world, and has done a variety of TV commentary and presentation work. He has a small collection of classic cars, and competes in historic motor sport with his ex-Stirling Moss 1950 HWM. He is married and lives in London.
“Taylor’s style is light and conversational and he holds the reader’s attention without scrimping on detail… Complementing the text is an astonishing collection of photographs… We doubt there are many HWM photographs that haven’t found their way into the book… The book is printed on thick, high-quality paper. The reproduction is superb throughout and the amount of information contained within is simply staggering… an impressive demonstration of how even a relatively niche subject such as this can be afforded the very highest standards of authorship and production… most highly recommended.”
“This has to be one of the motoring books of the decade, not just the year. HWM could not have had a finer tribute.”
“This wonderful book is a much-anticipated treat… it lives up to the high expectations. From the cover artwork by Michael Turner to the captivating text and superb imagery, Taylor vividly covers the story of the team, the cars and the colourful characters involved… Definitive, hugely enjoyable and superbly presented.”
Classic & Sports Car
“If ever someone were qualified to tell the HWM story, it is Simon Taylor… a beautifully presented twin-volume set… exhaustive… comprehensive… Bravo.”
“My pick for the book of the year is Simon Taylor’s two-part work… I cannot recommend it highly enough.”
Howden Ganley, NZ Classic Driver
“HWM laid the groundwork for every British garagiste outfit that followed, and that makes it deserving of Taylor’s level of love and attention.”
“What a publication!”
“With the wonderful title John, George and the HWMs, this is a marque history as it should be written; based on years of careful research, a superb selection of photos, high-quality production values by publisher Evro and a very readable style… this stunning book is worth every penny.”
Mark Holman, NZ Classic Driver
“John (Heath) and George (Abecassis) may not ring a bell but Taylor surely must: for five decades he left tracks as a journalist, commentator, publisher and historian, and famously ended his career as the chairman of the publishing group (Haymarket Magazines) where he had once started fresh out of university as a writer on a weekly rag. Or you may know him from radio and TV—or, and now we’re really getting into the meat of this book, as the owner of the Stovebolt Special. He had clapped his eyes on a photo of that famous HWM as a schoolboy—“It became my fantasy car and I thought about it daily”—and it took him only 43 years to put it into his own garage. Books by people like that are really the best kind: total commitment to the cause, an untouchably deep and wide frame of reference from his secular work, a grasp of every word ever uttered on the subject by anyone, and skin in the game as an owner. He sunk ten years of research into this project and another three writing. That the book is racking up awards (cf. the Guild of Motoring Writers 2019 Mercedes-Benz Award for the Montagu of Beaulieu Trophy; Royal Automobile Club’s Specialist Motoring Book of the Year) is the least of its successes.”