A new book that was launched by international racing driver Alec Poole before Christmas is now available in Ireland exclusively from ourselves at Irish Vintage Scene. For those of you who may not know, Alec was born in Dublin, son of Billy Poole, owner of Booth Poole Ltd who were the importers for MG and Wolseley. Alec went to Trinity College in Dublin, where he met Paddy Hopkirk – Paddy wrote the foreword for the book, and is indeed mentioned many times throughout. These boys had some fun back in the day!
At the age of eighteen Alec was sent over to BMC (British Motor Corporation) to complete a five-year engineering apprenticeship, as was the norm back then for dealer’s sons. During those five years not only did Alec gain a great reputation as an engineer, but also as a racing driver, competing in events all over England and Ireland. His motorsport career grew and he competed in some of the world’s most famous events right across the world, and in 1969 became British Touring Car Champion. While this might be a high accolade, there were many more wins and great campaigns in some amazing endurance events that are no longer in existence.
Alec’s book is made up of a collection of short stories, many related to motorsport and some not. There are almost seventy short stories in all, covering 315 pages and accompanied by some super shots of various cars in action, as well as many world-renowned drivers, some no longer with us. I can assure you that each story will make you smile, as Alec seems to have a funny or mischievous view on every event he ever took part in – just some of the titles include, ‘Roy’s Hobby was Stealing World Champion Mike Hawthorn’s Road Car’, ‘Dunboyne Road Races – Thrilling but Dangerous’, Racing for 84 Hours in Fog with Zero Visibility’, ‘Eddie Jordan Gives my Wife Money’, and my favourite, ‘Thanks Mum, I Borrowed your Mini Wheels to Win the Galway Rally’. One particular aspect I love about this book is that it mentions so many events that are no longer; the London to Sydney Marathon, FIA 1000Km sports car race, Reims 12-Hour Race, 84-Hour Liege Marathon and the Targa Florio are just some events that Alec recalls, both on a serious note from a competition point of view and a little of the fun outside of competition.
Whether you’ve heard of Alec Poole or these events or not is immaterial – you will just love this book either way, and I for one thought on many an occasion, “how the hell did they get away with that?” Well they did, and a big thank you to Alec for sharing some of his amazing stories with us all. The book is available from Irish Vintage Scene (www.irishvintagescene.ie/product/a-life-by-the-poole-alec-poole/) or by calling our office on 091 388805 to order, and costs €25 plus €5 postage.
Book Reviewed by Tom Heavey, Managing Editor