Driven to Crime
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By Crispian Besley
People lie, cheat, steal and even kill for a variety of reasons, one of which is to go motor racing, a particularly expensive and egotistical sport. This intriguing book, the result of years of research, encompasses not just those who have been ‘driven to crime’ in order to pay for their sport but also characters within motor racing who have been involved in wrongdoing, sometimes through no fault of their own. Over 60 true stories cover webs of deceit and numerous crimes including drug trafficking, corruption, embezzlement, robbery, fraud, murder and money laundering. The author investigates misdemeanours at all levels, from drivers, designers and mechanics to team owners, entrants and sponsors. This book will appeal not only to motor racing enthusiasts and cognoscenti on both sides of the Atlantic but also to anyone who enjoys reading about crime.
- Stories of motorsport chicanery from all over the world, including…
- Fraud: Southern Organs (lay preachers who faked suicide and hid on a remote Scottish island); Jerry Dominelli (a Ponzi scheme that funded top-level racing Porsches); Jean-Pierre Van Rossem (self-styled stock-market guru who bankrolled an F1 team); Dominic Chappell (serial bankrupt racer brought down after purchasing a British department store); David Thieme (the Lotus sponsor who vanished).
- Murder: David Blakely (the driver killed by his lover Ruth Ellis); Franco Ambrosio (F1 sponsor of Shadow and Arrows); Elmer George (American racer who married into Indy ‘royalty’); Ricardo Londoño-Bridge (Colombia’s first F1 driver); Mickey Thompson (1960s American drag-racing icon); Nick Whiting (casualty of the biggest gold bullion heist in British history).
- Swindles: James Munroe (accounts manager who embezzled his way to a racing McLaren F1 GTR); Lord Brocket (jailed for staging the theft of his classic cars, including Ferraris); Andrea Harkness (stripper who ripped off NASCAR).
- Drugs: Ian Burgess (sometime British F1 racer); Randy Lanier (drug-smuggling IMSA champion); John Paul Sr and Jr (talented son dragged into a racing father’s drug-running); Vic Lee (super-successful team owner with a dodgy transporter); the Whittington brothers (more misdeeds in IMSA circles).
- Other misdemeanours: Roy James (Great Train Robbery getaway driver); Bertrand Gachot (jailed after road rage in London); Juan Manuel Fangio (kidnapped by Cuban rebels in 1958); Colin Chapman (the unresolved ‘DeLorean Affair’); ‘Spygate’ (Ferrari design secrets passed to McLaren).
- ISBN: 978-1-910505-70-0
- Format: 234x156mm hardback
- Page extent: 480pp
- Illustration: 100 photos, mainly colour
Crispian Besley is a first-time author with a life-long interest in cars and a passion for motor racing. Inspired by James Hunt’s Formula 1 exploits with Hesketh and having become friends with the World Champion’s younger brother at school, he competed in Formula Ford during the late 1970s but had to face the reality that his results were not going to earn him a place in F1. Under pressure from his parents to get a ‘proper’ job, he embarked on a 30-year career in the city. He later returned to racing as a successful amateur, initially competing in Ferraris and then mainly in historic single-seaters ranging from F1 and F2 machinery to a variety of Formula Junior cars. An enthusiastic collector of classic cars, he lives in a 16th century manor house in Northamptonshire, conveniently close to Silverstone.
“The best motor racing book I’ve read in years.”
“A hugely entertaining book… a riotous read.”
“The author, Crispian Besley, is an investment banker by profession who has been an active competitor in historic racing for many years. His comprehensive knowledge of the sport and experience of the financial world have enabled him to put into their proper context all the cases about which he has written. Although this is his first book, you wouldn’t think so. The very readable style is engaging and informative. It is in no way sensationalist. There are plenty of images with succinct and pertinent captions. The index is comprehensive and there are three pages of references which show how extensive has been the author’s research.”
BRDC Bulletin (Ian Titchmarsh)
“A beefy 480-page monster, a lot of book for your buck… extremely carefully researched and very well written… an absolutely fascinating read.”
David Tremayne, GrandPrix+
“It’s written in an engaging style, and with each tale only covering a few pages it rattles along. It’s an absorbing and informative read.”
“A super read, and thoroughly recommended. If you can’t find a copy, try the prison library.”
“Like all mystery tales, revealing all of the story here would be cruel (to both potential readers and the publisher) so you’ll have to trust me that each of the tales told are both accurate and entertaining.”
lacar.com (Doug Stokes)
“A chunky and thoroughly researched book which covers a full spectrum of criminality.”
“Besley writes in an accessible, straightforward style across a range of subjects that will appeal to motor racing newbies and grizzled old hands alike.”
Goodwood Road & Racing
“Besley’s writing brings two great qualities. Firstly, his ability to clearly and succinctly explain some highly complex financial crimes means that what could easily be impenetrable passages are highly readable. Secondly, the nuance to his tone allows him to say a lot while objectively reporting the facts… well worth the money… a great Christmas present.”
“A remarkable book… this weighty tome is just £40, dare I say an absolute steal!”
“A truly wild ride… unusual, excellent.”
“A fascinating book… tales of brazen lawbreaking… well written with engaging prose.”
“If you fancy something very different from the usual marque histories, Crispian Besley’s first book should be right up your street.”
Ferrari Owners’ Club magazine
“A very interesting collection.”