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Left: The Locomobile Type 1906, "Old 16", driven by George Robertson on its way to winning the 1908 Vanderbilt Cup on Long Island.

Center: Action during the 1916 Vanderbilt Cup event at Santa Monica with William Bolden (#12) leading Omar Toft.

Book Review
by Russell Jaslow

Audi R8 (WSC Giants)
by Ian Wagstaff
Veloce Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-84584-327-4. List Price: $29.95.

Audi R8 Book Cover ImageMy first introduction to the Audi R8 sports car was when I tuned into the 2000 24 Hours of Le Mans midway through the race. There was the Audi in the garage having its entire rear end replaced in a matter of minutes. It took me longer to pick my jaw up off the floor.

I knew at that moment I was witnessing a seminal moment in sports car racing design. Even though the ability to replace the entire rear end was eventually outlawed by the ACO, it was the mindset of the Audi team to come up with that concept and design which defined this car and provided it with unprecedented success on the track.

In an era when race car designs were changing rapidly, the Audi R8 managed to win Le Mans five times, including three podium sweeps, six consecutive 12 Hours of Sebring and Petit Le Mans events, numerous endurance races, and a handful of American Le Mans titles. To say it dominated the first half of the first decade of this century is an understatement.

Reliability was the key to the R8's success. Audi redefined that term for endurance racing. However, another key reason for the car's longterm success is the German manufacturer never sat on its laurels without ever compromising reliability. Sure, it was the R8 for all those years, but as one driver said, the R8 in 2005 was a whole lot different than the R8 in 2000. It became more drivable, faster, and higher tech.

Audi R8 brings the history of this car in a short, concise matter. It is the latest in the WSC Giants series, which also includes Gulf-Mirage, Ferrari 312P & 312B, and Matra Sports Cars. It certainly is a fitting addition.

Ian Wagstaff devotes a chapter to each year including one for the car's origins. He concludes with a chapter on the road going Audi R8 as well as a chapter on where each chassis exists today, the "clone" chassis built for privateers in amateur racing, and the cars competition in vintage racing. Two appendices provide the details on the races and the cars.

The author writes about the technical improvements each year, the on track highlights, and of course it concentrates on the exploits at Le Mans. Side bars of mini-bios on each driver who ever drove an Audi R8 professionally round out this nice effort. Drivers who readily admit the Audi R8 made their careers.

Perhaps in some ways, I would be even happier with a more in depth perspective of the car and behind the scene stories. However, this book will not disappoint those sports car racing fans, Audi fans, and folks like myself who were awestruck back in 2000 at Le Mans. Wagstaff presents a solid, reliable effort. Just like the Audi R8.

Copyright 2012 by . All Rights Reserved.

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