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- ISBN-10: 173912491X
- ISBN-13: 9781739124915
by Darren Banks
Up-and-coming Scottish ace Gerry Birrell was on the verge of achieving his ambition of reaching the pinnacle of motorsport when he needlessly lost his life in a preventable high-speed accident on the fast sweeping bends of the Rouen-Les-Essarts circuit in Northern France.
From humble beginnings in his native homeland when motorsport was in its infancy, he began, firstly as a mechanic for his elder brother Graham before making his debut behind the wheel of Graham’s car only a few days after his seventeenth birthday. The sharing and working on his brother’s car continued for three years before Gerry built his own machine and quickly began to forge a reputation both as an engineer and a highly-skilled test and development driver.
Once having moved south he began to climb the motor racing ladder. The first two seasons saw him claim championship titles in the newly-created Formula Vee and Formula Ford categories before moving onto the more established, Formulas, Three and Two.
The turning point came in the early ’70s when he became a works driver for the Ford Motor Company. This combined with his single-seater career gave him security, credibility and opened up a vast range of opportunities both on and off track, all of which were assessed in his usual methodical way. Gerry was likeable, self-reliant, self-confident but never arrogant. His gentlemanly qualities and genuine interest in people saw him form many close friendships. Many of those friends, rivals, journalists and family members, which include his widow Margaret, daughter Kara and brother Graham, recall with refreshing candour and affection the time spent in his company. All still feel his loss nearly 50 years after his passing.
Opinions vary as to whether he would ultimately have been a success in Formula One if the rumoured drive for Tyrrell had become a reality. Would he have been more suited to endurance racing? Or would he have sought a role within the Ford Motor Company, who clearly had plans for him? Sadly, we will never know.
Profusely illustrated with previously unseen images from personal scrapbooks and professional archives, Lost Before His Time is a comprehensive, detailed account of the career of a versatile, underrated, and often forgotten and overlooked racer of immense promise and ability. Had he not been snatched from our midst would surely have left an indelible mark on the history of motorsport.
Buch, Softcover, 21 x 27 cm, 150 Seiten, ca. 300 überwiegend farbige Abbildungen, englischer Text