There are those few books that simply are a joy to read, regardless of the topic, because it is so evident that the author truly loved and enjoyed writing it. Inscribed in my copy of the first edition of Cooper Cars is Doug Nye’s note that this “is my favourite book, covering proper people, enthusiasts like us!” Given that Nye has written somewhere in the neighborhood of seventy books, many of which top notch works of motor racing history, this is not an offhand comment to be taken lightly.
Over the course of twenty-six chapters and seven appendices, Nye weaves the tale of the Cooper boys Charles (father) and John (son), the Cooper Car Company, and a time that has long receded into the miasma of the Past. It is a story of a pragmatic, sensible approach being taken to what is an often illogical and certainly fickle sport. Within a decade of achieving international success by winning two world championships back to back, Cooper Cars was gone from the scene. After helping to revolutionize the annual Memorial Day 500 mile race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1961, Cooper was soon simply a footnote in the annals of the event. More than a few times while reading Cooper Cars I thought a good subtitle for the book would be: “Trials, Triumphs, and Tribulations.”
One of the great pleasures to be derived from reading any work produced by Doug Nye is that it is readable. Nye’s work is also unfailingly well-researched and thought-out, creating historical narratives that should be the envy of professional historians. It puts countless folks scribbling and fraying away on motorsports topics to shame. Although Nye gets a tad wound up any time I mention it, he is a damn fine historian, so there.
There aren’t that many true “classics” in this genre. This is due in great part (to beat a very seriously dead horse) to the rather loose way in which the term is used by those who probably wouldn’t know an actual classic if it was dropped on their empty heads: when everything is a “classic,” nothing is, a concept they utterly fail to grasp. There are precious few books that I would ever dream of singling out in this way, books that for whatever reason are simply important and significant to even The Untrained Eye. Over the years, I have found that Cooper Cars is one of those few, those very few that fully and lastingly deserve such priase.
It is one of the few books that I packed to take with me when I went to war, deployed to Southwest Asia. I have read the book many a time and keep reading it, and always I discover new insights into this complex subject—and, as I said earlier, there’s the sheer pleasure of reading Nye.
If you haven’t read this or any of his other books, you are missing out! Period.
Copyright 2017, Don Capps (speedreaders.info)