How to spend your time when there’s no race

Formula 1 fans may or may not be familiar with the name Jason Plato. While he didn’t race in F1, he’s a racing car driver with quite a pedigree. He has completed the second most British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) races, trailing only rival Matt Neal in total entries, and his 26 victories at Brands Hatch set a new record for the most victories at a single circuit.

Why am I writing about a 54-year-old man who may be better known as one of the presenters on Fifth Gear? Because I recently treated myself to his audiobook, read by the man himself. And it was lush!

Titled “How Not to Be a Professional Racing Driver”, Plato starts by making the point there are enough books telling you how to be one, including Jenson Button’s “How To Be An F1 Driver”. And thus starts Plato’s tales of a mischievous career that started with his parents and dog travelling from one circuit to the next as he continued to rise up the ranks and caused a little bit of chaos along the way.

The book is well-written, drawing the scenarios clear in the mind’s eye. From his two trips to the prison in Monaco, him stumbling his way hungover and wearing his shoes on the wrong feet to an F1 race in the Principality, to the plethora of shenanigans he got up to with Michael Schumacher. Yes, THE Schumi. I have to admit, that was the most surprising bit since the German racer always seemed so composed and level-headed. I’d pay good money to see some of those pantsing adventures. That’s not so much the case with his reports of après-ski adventures with the late rally legend Colin McRae.

One Goodreads reviewer posted: “Slightly disappointed with Jason’s book. There’s not enough about his motor racing career and too many stories about drinking, parties and mishaps.” I mean, my guy, he quite clearly says that the point of the book is not to focus on the racing. And it delivered. We all see the racing. We don’t often get a glimpse into what happens in the life of a driver off the track. Well, I suppose these days, we have a tiny curated peek, thanks to social media. But that doesn’t compare to a well-narrated record that seems to be fairly uncensored.

I’m very stingy with my fifth stars and easily gave this book four. If you can, get the audiobook because hearing it in Jason’s voice almost transports you straight to the Monaco parties, the fuel-filled air in the pitlanes, and JCB that practically asked to be driven.

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2021 Reading Challenge

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Martha has completed her goal of reading 120 books in 2021!
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