While perhaps the more knowledgeable F1 fans would know of today’s birthday boy’s all-too-brief stint in the top flight, Tiff Needell is more widely known for his roles as the front man on the Top Gear and Fifth Gear motoring shows on TV.
It is undoubtedly for this reason that the Englishman’s autobiography, Tiff Gear, is so named…
Needell’s F1 career amounts to a handful of outings in the Aurora F1 championship before two World Championship appearances in 1980 with the uncompetitive Ensign team.
His call-up didn’t occur in the best of circumstances, for he would be taking over the seat vacated by Clay Regazzoni, who’d been paralysed in a horrible smash at the Grand Prix at Long Beach.
He scraped onto the grid for his Grand Prix debut at Zolder, but his engine conked out after just a dozen laps. At the following round, in Monaco, he failed to qualify. His F1 career was over.
Told at a cracking pace, the first chapter of Needell’s autobiography covers his F1 career, while the balance looks at the ‘before’ and ‘after’. He certainly has some fantastic stories to tell.
Of particular interest for us was his observations on how the landscape of motorsport has changed to become a more commercial and safer, albeit more sanitised, environment.
And while Tiff’s F1 career was all-too-brief, this is a well-told story of a man who made it to the highest pinnacle of motorsport on merit.
Using our unique ‘Chequered Flags’ rating system, we award Tiff Gear…
OUT OF A POSSIBLE FIVE.
Tiff Gear is available at specialist bookstores. Our review copy was supplied to us by Haynes.
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