At both Virtual Motorpix and our sister organisation Porsche Road & Race, we receive many books to review, and these range from books on high performance sports cars to motorsport. At Porsche Road & Race, we obviously focus on books relating to Porsche cars, while at Virtual Motorpix we cover all other makes and models, including motorsport. So, when Aston Martin DBR9 – The Definitive History arrived on my desk, it created some fanfare because not only was it a large parcel, but it was also a very heavy one. Intrigued, I set about opening it, and to be quite honest, it was unlike any other book I had previously had the privilege of reviewing. In a nutshell, this book has created a watershed in my opinion, as to how a definitive book on any subject should be undertaken.
So impressive was this piece of work, that I decided it could not be reviewed in the normal sense of the word. And so I set out to interview Darren Turner, the longest standing Aston Martin works driver and one who was deeply involved in the development of the DBR9 from the outset. Wasn’t it a bit of an overkill to do an interview with a racing driver, to enhance a book review – really? The quotes below are from my interview with Darren Turner in the Aston Martin hospitality centre at Le Mans in 2016, and do not form part of the book itself. Read on…
“From the very first time that the car turned a wheel, which was in October or November 2004, I was there that day and I did all of the driving on its first shakedown at Donington Park. I was also part of the winning team at Sebring in 2005 on its maiden race. So the DBR9 was something that I’ve been heavily involved in right from the absolute very beginning until the end of 2011 FIA GT world championship,” Darren Turner explained to me.
Firstly, the authors, Christoph Mäder and Thomas Gruber, were both intimately involved at the forefront of motor racing, and most importantly, with an Aston Martin customer team. Mäder was the PR officer for the Jet Alliance team and Gruber was behind the wheel of an Aston Martin DBR9 – what better qualification could you ask for, when researching and writing a book of this nature. Mäder shared with me, that at the 2008 Spa 24 Hours, he was responsible for taking VIPs around the paddock and into the pit garage, explaining the car’s attributes and how the team worked.
I have personally witnessed the DBR9 racing from its inception in 2005 in the European Le Mans Series, through the FIA GT and World Championship years, including the Le Mans 24 Hours. At the 2008 Spa 24 Hours race, I was an accredited photographer, and witnessed the progress of the #33 JetAlliance Aston Martin DBR9 in that race, and so this also in some way qualifies me to review such a fine work as this book. In fact, Christoph and I were working out of the same media centre that race, we just didn’t know each other at that stage.
Secondly, let us look at how the book is constructed. The contents stretch from the DBR9’s initial concept, through development, homologation, engine, drivetrain, all mechanicals, aerodynamics, through to the model’s works and customer teams, to its racing history. Every aspect of the model’s life is covered. The authors have covered all the major race series in which the Aston Martin DBR9 competed, giving lap times at each circuit and by which driver.
Thirdly, with regards to the book’s presentation and layout, the term Exceptional almost doesn’t do it justice. Christoph Mäder really pushed the boat out with this one. Apart from the task of researching, interviewing and writing, Mäder was also responsible for the book’s design and graphics. Mäder included numerous acetates (overlaid transparent films), effectively creating multi-layered illustrations that give the reader an unparalleled insight into the workings of the DBR9.
Towards the rear of the book are several detailed sections that cover each car’s chassis history, giving race results per car, as well as a compilation of all pole positions achieved by the DBR9 worldwide. This is followed by a section containing foldouts that show the development timeline of the DBR9, and when each chassis was introduced to the world. This is in turn followed by a detailed record of every driver who has ever sat behind the wheel of a DBR9 in competition, and which race they have competed in.
“It is a special car to me. To be involved so deeply with a project, and to go through the iterations that we had from the Le Mans set up and the wins that we had with that car here in 2007 and 2008, and then in the last couple years when it was sort of detuned for the FIA world championship, and to go through all of that experience was a great part of my career,” Turner added.
For any Aston Martin enthusiast, racing fan or not, this very substantial tome is something that you want to have on your bookshelf. For those who are perhaps not Aston Martin enthusiasts, this book is also for you. If you have a motorsport fibre in your body, this most admirable piece of work will appeal to you none-the-less. Just looking through the book cannot but rouse those hairs on the back of your neck.
The Aston Martin DBR9 – The Definitive History scores a firm eleven out of ten, it is simply a marvellous work, and a step above anything else I have seen. I will let Darren Turner have the last word, “The DBR9 deserved to have a book like this made, just to highlight what a special car it was.”
|Title||DBR9 – The Definitive History|
|Authors||Christoph Mäder and Thomas Gruber|
|Publisher||T.A.G. Motor Books GmbH|
|First published||November 2012|
|Pages/Format||296 pages, hardcover with slipcase, multiple special pages and fold-out pages, 28 x 33 cm|
|Images||Over 400 images, many previously unpublished, detailed 3D illustrations, technical drawings and renderings|
|Price:|| Aficionado’s Edition – limited to 2700 numbered copies – €450.00
Driver’s Edition – limited to 270 copies, black suede cover in black slipcase – €650.00
Written by: Glen Smale
Images by: Virtual Motorpix/Glen Smale and the publisher