Okay, so this isn’t exactly a new book – in fact, it’s been delisted by the publisher – but Gordon Spice’s autobiography has only recently come to this scribe’s attention and, as it turns out, the author has lived a very spicy life indeed.
My initial expectation of the book was that it would mainly concern the Group C era and the eponymous cars that dominated C2 for several years in the 1980s. However, you need to read a long way into the book before you reach that particular era, but it’s a very entertaining journey along the way as we follow Gordon’s life from his first moments.
After learning about his early years (in the UK and Australia), Life of Spice essentially becomes two books – one about his business career and one about the racing – and they are intertwined throughout the rest of the volume. In fact, the only criticism I’d have (and it’s a mild one) is that keeping track of the timeline gets a tad confusing in places. However, the anecdotes more than make up for this.
As an aside, the business portion of the book could easily stand alone as a very useful instruction manual for budding entrepreneurs. It may concern a period that pre-dates the internet – and some of the incentives and advertising featured can cause the widening of eyes to those of a 21st century sensibility – but the lessons and opportunities of the business world still apply [see also Simon Dolan’s book – reviewed here]. What’s notable from both the business and racing worlds in this book is that success is achieved through gathering the right people around you.
But although the family and business stories are fascinating, it is Spice’s racing history that will draw most readers to the book. It begins with his first races in 1962 in an MG TF and then continues through Morgans, Minis, F5000, Capris and finally to prototypes, Le Mans and Group C. We learn about his racing in Barbados in front of huge crowds – a chapter of motorsport completely unknown to me – and also what happens when a F5000 comes to a sudden stop against the Mallory Park banking (it isn’t pretty).
We also discover that Spice almost led a breakaway of the Group C teams from the FISA in the ‘80s, and how that came to naught in circumstances that had this reader’s jaw hitting the floor!
It was also good to read his gratitude to Janos Wimpffen for the crazy Hungarian’s persistence and thoroughness in compiling results back in the day that would eventually become Time and Two Seats – Spice confesses that without this resource, he would simply have forgotten about many of his races.
In summary then, this is a highly entertaining and humorous read and worth every penny. It turns out that he finished writing the book only to discover that he needed to trim 50,000 words! One wonders what didn’t make the final edit.
The book is available via Amazon for £23.75, or direct from the author for the bargain price of just £16 inc. P&P (via firstname.lastname@example.org) in the UK.
P.S. Should you meet Gordon Spice and he offers to show you The Egg Trick or The Knife Trick, make sure you keep one hand firmly on your wallet!