Kings of the Oval – Book Review

Kings of the Oval, which will be officially published tomorrow (1 May 2015), is the new book from Scott Reeves, a long time BriSCA F1 Stock Car fan. The book follows the nine Formula 1 stock car champions of the 2014 season. Kings of the Oval combines interviews with the champion drivers with humorous prose and photos from both the sixtieth season and other important moments in the sport’s history.

Scott Reeves has previously written two outstanding books about BriSCA stock car racing, including, most recently ‘Keep Turning Left’, which had a similar format to Kings, but focused on top drivers on the F2 scene.

Reeves himself notes in the Acknowledgments section that both of these books take a similar form to Neil Randon’s (2000) ‘The Sound and the Fury’.  I, for one, definitely don’t think that this is a problem. It is a format that works, so why not stick to it? Not everything has to be groundbreakingly innovative (like Andy Smith’s stepped chassis or Craig Finnikin’s ‘Tilter’).

Coventry-05-07-2014-Colin-Casserley-05-950x630

Action at Coventry during the 60th season of stock car racing.

Kings of the Oval is one of those books where the writing is well-crafted without ever being difficult to read.  From the very first page, it captures your attention– you can easily find yourself 50 pages into it in no time at all. The photos, which have mainly been provided by Colin Casserley, really enhance the writing and take you down memory lane.

Whether you’ve followed the sport for as long as you can remember or you are relatively new to watching the BriSCA big league, you will definitely enjoy the book.  Don’t worry about not understanding the details – you’re biggest problem will be putting it down.

The drivers’ honest accounts provide something fresh, and something that a lot of fans won’t have had chance to hear before. Sure, there have been rumours about that rivalry between Dan Johnson and Frankie Wainman Junior which started at the end of the 2011 season, or the Harris-Newson incidents at last year’s European Championship weekend, but there’s no-one who knows the truth of these matters like the drivers themselves.

If your favourite driver had championship success last season, you will find yourself laughing along with their stories of the races. You may also find yourself smiling along to drivers you don’t particularly support.

The chapter dedicated to Craig Finnikin, starts with taking you back to the beginning of the 2014 World Final. From the very first line (‘Gentlemen, start your engines’), it feels like you are right back at Coventry, ready to shout and scream your support. This is one of the greatest pleasures of the good writing; it can awaken something inside that is currently dormant, waiting for September.

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European Champion Frankie Wainman Junior, Scottish and Under 25s Champion Tom Harris and World Champion Craig Finnikin are just three of the top drivers discussed in the book.

Kings of the Oval left me wishing for a completely new set of champions to emerge from the current season, so that opportunity for another book arises.  Having said this, I thoroughly hope that, if such a thing ever did materialise, that Mat Newson would once again feature. As noted in the chapter dedicated to the Norfolk driver, out of the current drivers, only Mark Gilbank has ‘won more races without taking a major championship trophy’.

I thoroughly recommend you read Kings of the Oval. It is funny, easy to read and a great way of marking the sixtieth season of BriSCA Formula 1 stock cars; truly a credit to the sport and to its author.

 If you haven’t already pre-ordered your copy, Kings of the Oval can be purchased through the Chequered Flag Publishing website. It will also be available as an e-book, for Kindles, iPads and other devices, via Amazon, iBooks, Nook and Kobo. The book will also be on sale at Coventry this Saturday.

Kings of the Oval by Scott Reeves

Kings of the Oval

Words: Rhosanna Jenkins
Photos: Colin Casserley

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