- Skip Peterson
Two local authors have delivered two very unique books, just in time for holiday gift giving. One is chock-full of dramatic photography of auto racing, the other is chock-full of history and facts about auto racing in the Dayton area, and both should be on any race fans Christmas list.
Jack Webster saw the movie, LeMans, staring Steve McQueen, in 1971, and it changed his life forever.
“I told a fellow at work about seeing the movie, and said I wanted to see sports cars race like that, and he told me I should go to Mid-Ohio,” Webster recalled. “I went there in August of ’71, bought a ticket and watched the Can-Am cars roar around the track. I shot photos from all kinds of locations there, and Jackie Stewart won that race. That was it – I was hooked, and I still am.”
Webster’s book, Racing Pilots, is a hardcover, 328 pages long, measures 10-by-8 inches and contains more than 400 photos, many not previously published. Designed and written by Webster, the books were also printed in the USA.
“It took about two and half years to comb through all of the photos I’ve shot over the last 45 years, and then they all had to be scanned. I had to write and rewrite, so it’s been a long process, but I hope I’ve captured these images for history, to preserve what this racing is about,” he said.
A longtime manufacturer’s rep for camera and lens companies, Webster has traveled all over the United States. He also did a brief stint as a racing team manager in the late 1980s, managing the Porsche Fabcar team of local racer John Higgins and the late Chip Mead.
That team finished second in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in 1987 and won the 12 Hours of Sebring the same year. Webster’s images bring the viewer much deeper into the race, and closer to the driver, capturing the intensity and emotion of the sport, while also capturing the beauty of sports cars at full speed.
The official launch of Racing Pilots will take place at White Allen Porsche in Centerville Dec. 2 from 6 to 8 p.m. Jack Webster will bei on hand to personally sign books; Audi Sport and Kettler Motor Werks are bringing the 2005 Le Mans winning Audi R8 LMP and the space age Audi R18 Ultra prototype for display at White Allen. Also, John Higgins is bringing his Sebring winning Porsche Fabcar – the very car Webster was team manager for back in the 1980s.
Bill Holder has been covering the local auto racing and short track scene for 35 years, writing for local and national publications. He’s spent the last year, with help from Rick Patterson, compiling all aspects of the Dayton racing scene, and the result is Dayton, Ohio: Race Town! Once you open it, you’ll be amazed at all the history the Miami Valley holds.
“A while back, while talking with a race fan, I suddenly realized that there is no real compendium of the history of racing in the area,” Holder explained. “When you look at the 50-mile radius of Dayton, you have all these famous tracks: Dayton Speedway, Winchester, New Bremen and Eldora; legendary drivers like Frank Lockhart, Mauri Rose, Duke Dinsmore, Everett Saylor and Johnny Shackleford. There was just so much, so I decided to put it in order.”
As the research continued, it became clear that while Dayton was a hotbed of sprint cars and stock cars from the 1930s through the 1980s, there are so many other aspects to cover.
“One thing led to another, and the book ended up with 16 chapters, covering everything from tracks to drivers to builders, drag racers, motorcycle racing and even hydroplanes,” Holder added.
“This is by no means a singular project,” he said. “Along with Rick Patterson’s help, Cheryl Dalhamer did the layout, Phil Kunz provided the photography expertise and over 50 others contributed information and photos. They are all listed on the title page and without them, and the support of Phil Parker at the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, this would never have happened.”
Both books’ profits are also being donated to good causes. Racing Pilots profits will benefit Jack Webster’s daughter, Jean, who is battling breast cancer. Dayton, Ohio: Race Town! profits will go to the Dayton Auto Race Fans Injured Drivers Fund.
Racing Pilots is available at the launch Dec. 2, or at racingpilot.com. All copies will be signed and are priced at $69.95 plus $10 shipping.
Dayton, Ohio: Race Town! is available by contacting Bill Holder at 937-233-0924 or by sending Holder a check for $22, which includes shipping, to: Bill Holder, 3811 Berryleaf Court, Riverside, OH 45424.