Amended 18 July 2012

1. Around the Houses
(Published by Racing Car News Pty Ltd, 1980)

The Cover
McAllisterand Macalinden
The Cover of Around the Houses
A typical circuit article in the book
A typical drivers' page in the book
A typical illustration from the book: 1940 Patriotic Grand Prix
Click thumbnails to enlarge

Back in the early 1970s I was a failed amateur Western Australian rally and racing driver (far too slow, and far too broke) who was interested in photography and writing. I combined all three interests by researching and writing an encyclopedia of motor racing in Western Australia, a project which took about six years of part-time research and covered the period from 1902 to the 1979 Australian Grand Prix.

The result was an A4 sized "perfect bound" card-cover book in three sections: a narrative history; a circuits-and-events A-Z; and a drivers A-Z. It included maps and photos of all known Western Australian circuits, and about 90 short illustrated biographies of the more notable local race drivers. All up there were some 400 illustrations, most of them historic racing photos.

Published by Racing Car News Pty Ltd, the book sold for $Aus 6.50 in 1980, and the 1500 copies printed eventually sold out after lots of distribution glitches which included boxes of unsold copies being discovered, years later, in very unlikely places. Copies are now very hard to get, and have been advertised for sale for as much as $100. Those that survive are prone to fall to bits, due to the very poor quality of the glue used in the "perfect binding" process.

In a small way this book contributed to the introduction of historic racing in Western Australia by the Vintage Sports Car Club in 1985. This Club is dedicated to preserving and driving historic cars, preferably around the houses in country towns just as used to be done in Western Australia from the 1930s to the 1960s.

I am always pleased to hear from anyone who has memories and memorabilia such as programs, scrap books, and photographs, of motor racing in the "around-the-houses" and Caversham eras. I would appreciate the opportunity to transfer old motor sport pictures (specially colour slides) etc to digital format, and return them along with a CD copy. This process works very well with colour slides in particular. I even pick up and deliver if you are within reasonable distance of Perth, Western Australia.

2. Around the Houses: The CD ROM Edition
(Published by Terry Walker, 2005)

The cover of the CD-ROM Edition
Screen dump of typical "circuit" article
Screen dump of typical "driver" profile
Historic racing photo, Stan Jones, Maserati 250F, 1957.
Click to enlarge

OVER the years after Around the Houses was published and had gone out of print I was occasionally contacted by a frustrated would-be buyer hoping I had some copies for sale.

In the late 1990s I dickered with the idea of having a facsimile edition re-printed, but the cost was horrendous and the potential market small. Let's be realistic: Around the Houses is the ultimate niche publication. Then I fiddled about with a desktop publishing package, but found it too tedious and was still faced with expensive print runs. Finally, in 2003-4 I learned how to use web-site design software, and realised that a CD-ROM edition was a distinct possibility. Not as much fun to read as a book, but better than nothing at all.

My original plan was to simply run copies off on my own CD burner as and when someone wanted one. Once again cost raised its ugly head. The problem was labels. Home-designed stick-ons weren't good enough: I trashed a few blank CD's when labels didn't stick properly. So I chased around CD production houses and was astounded at how affordable professionally mastered and manufactured CDs were. Still costly, but far cheaper than book form, even cheaper than doing-it-yourself. Affordable, and I could self-publish.

The huge advantage of a CD-ROM over a paper book is its capacity. With practically unlimited room to play with, I was able to double the number of historic racing pictures from 400 to 800. Numerous boxes of colour slides of motor racing from the 1950s and 1960s had surfaced, so many of the new historic racing photos were in gorgeous colour. And on a CD-ROM, colour costs no more than black-and-white.

I was specially delighted to get rare colour slides from the 1957 and 1962 Australian Grand Prix races held at Caversham, bristling with images of Maserati 250Fs, Ferrari 500-625s, Cooper-Climaxes, Brabhams, BRMs, and such drivers as Brabham, McLaren, Bib Stillwell, Bill Patterson and many others. The photos are mostly 800 x 600 pixels. There's an example above.

Well, it's not selling like hot cakes, but I have already recovered what I spent to have the CDs manufactured professionally. It will never go into real profit - special scanners, and assorted hardware including a colour laser printer, were acquired for the job - but it's only ever been a hobby anyway, one I am happy to share with others.

The CD-ROM edition is available on-line internationally from Pit Stop Bookshop at:
Price: AUD $29.95, approximately £12 UK, approximately US $25 depending on exchange rates, plus postage.


3. Fast Tracks


AFTER Around the Houses was launched, I gave serious thought to doing another similar book covering the whole of Australia. A simple exercise in basic arithmetic told me it was impossible, at least by me alone.

For Western Australia I had to deal with an average of four or five race meetings a year. For much of the 1950s and 1960s there were typically fewer than 40 cars at a meeting and even fewer pre-war (only 8 cars raced in the Albany Grand Prix in 1936), which meant relatively few drivers to profile. And there were about 19 circuits.

For a nation-wide book, I was looking at about 100 circuits, and up to 100 meetings a year, and many, many drivers. I estimated I would have to have at least 600 profiles, 100 maps, and probably as many as 3000 photos. So I compromised; I settled on just doing circuit maps and brief profiles of the circuits. This was fairly easy, living in Canberra and working close to the National Library and its reading room. There was a huge air photo section, plus archives of the motoring magazines and daily newspapers on tap. Even so, it took a few years.

The result was Fast Tracks, published by Turton and Armstrong in Sydney. Strictly black and white, and published from camera-ready copy ex laser printer, it was low budget, but there was nothing else like it. Except on the Internet, there is no equivalent elsewhere containing every circuit, however insignificant. It is still in print, available in motoring bookshops in Australia, including online from Pitstop Bookshop.

Each circuit has two facing pages. The left hand page is the article, outlining its history and where to find what's left, if anything. The right hand page contains the circuit map, specially drawn for the book from aerial photography. All the maps were to the same scale, and with North to the top, with a few inconvenient exceptions such as Lobethal (four times the size of any other circuit) and Victor Harbour (which would have run across three pages). The truly vast circuits were drawn at half the scale of the rest. A few, such as Caversham, had unfortunately to be rotated 180 degrees to fit the page.

There turned out to be two mistakes in the maps: the Wanneroo Park map showed the new short circuit incorrectly; and Woody point was entirely wrong. Since the book was published in 1994, quite a few new circuits have been built and several modified, often dramatically.

This book is now out of print, which is publisher-speak for "sold out". However, I am in the process of preparing a e-book edition which will be available in both Kindle-friendly .mobi format and the generic .epub format. This may be marketed on-line through Pitstop Bookshop.


4. Murder on the Rabbit Proof Fence

The stange but true story of detective novelist Arthur Upfield and outback serial killer Snowy Rowles. For a brief look at it, click here.