New book - "the most prolific speed-record driver there has ever been"

John Mayhead, author of Goldie - pic by Actuarius ArtJohn Mayhead, author of Goldie - pic by Actuarius Art
John Mayhead, author of Goldie - pic by Actuarius Art
Chichester author John Mayhead is in print with Goldie, The Amazing Story of Alfred Goldie Gardner, The World’s Most Successful Speed-Record Driver.

It has been published by National Motor Museum Publishing in hardback at £20 and is available at Amazon, Kim’s bookshop in South Street, Chichester, at Beaulieu and various online locations.

John, aged 51, said: “The book was the result of a trip to a friend’s wedding in Holland in 2018. As a freelance motoring journalist, I looked for an opportunity to write a story to offset the costs and decided to write about the Jabbeke speed runs of the late 1940s and early 50s. Amongst the expected racing drivers of the era – Stirling Moss, Sheila Van Damm and Norman Dewis – I discovered Goldie Gardner, a 6’2” disabled WWI veteran who was nearly 40 years older than everyone else. I discovered that the National Motor Museum had 35 boxes of his letters, photographs and other items. The story I uncovered there was so extraordinary that I knew I had to write a book about him: he is the most prolific speed-record driver there has ever been and had a fascinating back story that included a colourful private life, secret wartime missions and a deep secret that motivated him.

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“I then spent the best part of three years researching this enigmatic man. I linked up with his surviving family, other historians and various museums and was given access to archives and memories that had been buried for decades. I served in the British Army including deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan so I found the story of Goldie’s rehabilitation after the war and the camaraderie he found with the other racing drivers really fascinating.

“The result is a book that I hope is a good read for everyone, not just those who like cars and motor racing. It’s intentionally written as a narrative non-fiction book in line with the National Motor Museum’s aim to share the story of motoring to a wide audience. The Duke of Richmond, at Goodwood, was very supportive as his grandfather raced MGs with Goldie back in the 1930s and was kind enough to write the foreword.

“The response to the book has been phenomenal! I’ve had loads of people tell me that they loved it, it reached third in the Amazon automotive bestseller list and the publishers have just commissioned another print run.

“I’m a first-time author but my day job is writing about classic cars. I am editor of the Hagerty Price Guide and write market commentary pieces for various magazines and newspapers, plus I enjoy writing longer features when I have the time. Pre-war racing and record breaking fascinates me: what these drivers and engineers achieved without the technology or safety equipment of today was quite extraordinary. I also love driving old cars when I can. I have a 1946 MG TC, which I managed to drive at 72mph on the track at Goodwood last summer. That was pretty scary, and the thought of Goldie driving at 207mph in an earlier MG with no seat belts, one pair of drum brakes, no helmet and no fire extinguisher, is frankly terrifying. I’ve already given a few talks about Goldie and have some more planned.”

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