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Bower Revisited

FEATURE BY MIKE LAWRENCE
11/04/2011

There was a healthy mailbox following my review of Tom Bower's ridiculous book on Bernie. More than one correspondent mentioned Ronnie Mutch's classic, 'Niki Lauda and the Grand Prix Gladiators', with its harrowing chapter of the trials Ronnie endured to obtain a press pass at Watkins Glen. Ronnie Mutch is a bit like the director, Ed Wood, whose masterpiece, Plan Nine From Outer Space, is so bad that it must be seen.

Bowers' book, by contrast, is like the worst big-budget movie you have ever seen, it has no redeeming feature. Imagine 'The Swarm' made as a musical - in 3D.

Normally, I would leave it at that, but Bower has done the unforgivable, he has slagged off another writer's work. Susan Watkins's biography came out a few months ago and Bower is not kind about it. Presumably, he thought he could get away with slagging off a rival's book because he was on a phone link to a radio programme in Australia. Wrong! Pitpass has thousands of readers in Australia so naturally we have the interview in full and very interesting it is. Indeed, I'd say that some comments border on the slanderous. You can judge for yourself via this link.

Poor Bower seems not to understand how the Internet works. He's like those people who post nasty comments about their boss on Facebook and wonder why they are sacked.

Susan Watkins is a respected historical biographer and is the wife of Prof. Sid Watkins who revolutionised medical care at Grands Prix. She has known Bernie for many years.

It is unforgivable that he slags off another author and it is for this reason, plus the fact that he is now promoting himself as an expert on motor racing, that I return to Bower. He needs to be put in his place.

Bower says that when Bernie heard that he was researching a book, Bernie invited him to lunch. Bower never got the fact that Bernie has a brain the size of Kent. As Michael Corleone famously said in The Godfather II, 'Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.' A couple of trips to races in Bernie's private jet and Bower was putty in Bernie's hands.

Take the 1978 Swedish GP when Brabham ran the BT46B 'fan' car. Someone told Bower that Niki Lauda was not told about the secret fan. Bower says that Bernie's strategy for qualifying was to top the tanks so the car ran on maximum weight. Who could have told him this? I bet that Bernie wet himself when Bower fell for it.

Bower says that Niki qualified tenth in Sweden and I do not get why the guy would mention a starting position only to get it so wrong. Niki was third on the grid. Had Bower Googled '1978 Swedish GP', he would not have only got his basic facts right, he would have learned about the politicking in the aftermath when Bernie sacrificed his advantage for stability in the sport.

Someone must have told Bower that the Yardley BRMs were painted pink, you would not make it up yourself. My guess is that Bower was fed a load of crap by motor racing people and one thing that motor racing people like is the wind-up. All Bower had to do was to tap 'Yardley BRM' into Google, but he could not be bothered.

Wind-ups have been going on for years. John Cooper convinced hacks that Cooper used Ribena, a blackcurrant cordial, as an aid to cooling. John also planted an exclusive that he was flying to Russia to negotiate the use of the Moskvich V12 F1 engine. When motor racing people see a self-important, ignorant twat, they take the piss and quite right too.

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