DRIVEN TO CRIME True stories of wrongdoing in motor racing
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By Crispian Besley
PUBLICATION DATE - October 2022
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: 512pp
- Illustration: 120 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.