Monday, 30 September 2013

AUTHOR PROFILE No.6: ROY SMITH

Roy Smith is the author of 6 Veloce books. His latest, The Porsche 924 Carrera - evolution to excellence, is now available.

Roy Smith has owned over 50 cars since the age of 17! His love of the four-wheeled machines began at an early age, coming from his grandfather who had engines and machinery in his blood. Roy’s middle childhood years saw his interest spread to aircraft – not unnaturally, as it was only a few years after the war and Spitfires and Meteors could still be seen flying around on a regular basis. But in his teens it was racing cars that commandeered Roy’s thoughts, along with girls ... both expensive!

In a Vampire Fighter at RAF Benson aged around 7.

The F1200 race car self-built aged around 19.

The rallying Mini Van in 1968.

At 18 Roy joined the Craven Motor club in Reading, at the time a hot bed of rallying. A few years later, having been sick in other people’s cars so many times whilst navigating that no one would give him a ride, he built a Mini Van Rally car and got behind the wheel himself.
Roy soon began writing articles for local clubs. His first interview was with John Horseman and the JW Gulf team, then running Jo Sieffert and Pedro Rodriguez in the 917 Porsches (1969/70). Over the coming years, various cars passed through Roy’s hands. A Ford Anglia, A Viva SL 90, several Minis including Coopers. He built the Formula 1200 race car whilst functioning as Reading Centre Secretary of the 750 Motor Club.

Hillclimbing a Ford Anglia in 1969.

Cycle racing team in the early 1980's (Roy second from left).

Testing a factory Alpine A110 berlinette in 1984.

The motoring life was always a learning curve, sometimes easy, sometimes steep. Roy continued writing for several years until work, marriage and a family intervened. The Formula 1200 car was sold unraced. Life settled down in a career that would span 40 years in sales – first in retail, then advertising, then machine tools, onto special equipment for chemical and pharmaceutical companies, and latterly water treatment works equipment, including entire plant contracts. As a company director for French and German companies until his retirement in 2003, BMWs, Citroëns, Peugeots, Alfa Romeos, Alpine Renaults and Porsches all came his way.

Castle Combe trackday in the 1990s.

Spoils of victory in 1996.

Hillclimb Championship winning A110 berlinette in 1997.

Racing an MV Agusta in 2001.

Roy hillclimbed and sprinted with a single-seater Jedi in the early ’90s, winning five regional championships. In 1997 he won a classic hillclimb championship with an Alpine Renault A110 berlinette, and raced an MV Augusta not so successfully in the late ’90s. But it was after his retirement that he returned to writing; for magazines at first, before moving on to books in 2006. So far he has given the motoring world six highly-acclaimed specialist titles: four about Alpine and Renault – three covering Alpines Formula 1 and Sports Prototypes stories, plus a book about the iconic berlinette A110 – and a book about the life and times of racing engine legend Amédée Gordini. Now he has released the latest huge work, mentioned above, about the almost forgotten Porsche 924 Carrera GT, GTS & GTR. He is now working on a second Porsche book, Porsche – the Racing 914s, and has in his file the start of a final book about the cars built in Dieppe by Alpine, covering the GT and Turbo era. His hallmarks are intricate research, sourcing hundreds of photos, first-person interviews, detailed diagrams, and a talent for uncovering fresh new information about a rare subject. Roy won the Mercedes Benz Prize and Montagu of Beaulieu Trophy in 2010 for his work on the Sports Prototype Alpines, and was runner up in 2013 with the work about Amedee Gordini which was also shortlisted for Historic motoring book of the year.


Who knows what the future may bring? Roy’s current stable of cars includes a Porsche 914 2 Litre, a Lotus Esprit Turbo, a Porsche 911 and one of the rare 924 Carrera Porsches that form the subject of the current offering. A member of the Guild of Motoring Writers, Roy continues to look for new and interesting subjects, usually to be the first to document their history in English before it is all forgotten.








Click here to view all books by Roy Smith.