Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Believe you can and you’re halfway there”.
No truer words could better sum up the story of Sir Francis Williams C.B.E.
Nobody, not the author Maurice Hamilton, nor Virginia Williams, Frank’s wife, nor Patrick Head, Frank’s long-time friend and business partner, could not have learned anything new about the life of Sir Frank Williams from this book.
From somewhat disjointed beginnings in the north of England and in Scotland, a love of cars and making them go fast was born and festered within from a young age; Frank Williams slowly invested himself in the world of motorsport. With stints as a driver, mechanic, manager, among other roles, Frank’s grit and determination saw him through many repair bills and eventually to buying a Brabham Formula One chassis for the 1969 F1 season, twice finishing second with good friend Piers Courage behind the wheel.
Experiencing tragedy early in his team’s existence with the death of Courage in 1970, Frank was distraught, yet undeterred; and through various partnerships and sponsorships, progression was made, sometimes with a team of ten people or less. After being bought out in 1976 and unhappy with the direction of the team, Frank left, joined forces with a young engineer named Patrick Head and the rest, as they say, is history.
Friend to Richard’s F1, Maurice Hamilton has undertaken an enormous amount of research and effort to locate as many of those as possible with any association, big or small, to the story of Williams F1, and the hard work has paid off. Through Frank’s beginnings, through the rise of his team, through his car accident which left him in a wheelchair, through the dominant 80’s and 90’s, with all its breathtaking highs and devastating lows, to the steady decline of recent years, the book takes gospel from many of those who have taken the ride in some form or another with Frank to give the reader a first-hand account of the story it has been and continues to be. All share their stories in fascinating detail, with legendary recollections and anecdotes shared by Frank’s wife and children, business partners, engineers, colleagues … heck… even the truck driver gets a story.
Williams Grand Prix Engineering is widely recognised as the last of the privateer Formula One teams, although even this is now slowly beginning to erode in this current era of corporate and public ownership. But for as long as the name ‘Williams’ continues to hang above the door, it will always be known as Frank’s little team.
Using our unique ‘Chequered Flags’ rating system, we award Williams…
OUT OF A POSSIBLE FIVE.
Williams: The legendary story of Frank Williams and his F1 team in their own words: The Greatest Story in British Motor-racing Told by Those Who Were There is available most book resellers and Amazon.co.uk.
This review was written by our IndyCar correspondent Matt Lennon.
Click here to read our exclusive interview with the book’s author, Maurice Hamilton.