Book Review: Martyn Schorr Recounts Detailed History of Ford Racing in ‘Ford Total Performance’
At the celebration of Ford’s Motorsports centennial in 2001, Edsel Ford II (Henry Ford’s great-grandson) said, “Not only is our racing tradition older than our company, but there might not even have been a Ford Motor Company without racing. My grandfather needed to get the world’s attention–and he knew how. Henry Ford built a race car.”
As that quote shows, the history of Ford is tied inseparably to the history of Ford Motorsports, and that is what author Martyn Schorr shows us in his recent compendium.
Ford Total Performance: Ford’s Legendary High-Performance Street and Race Cars (2015)
Written by Martyn L. Schorr
Publication Date: November 2015
Publisher: Motorbooks, an imprint of Quarto Publishing Group
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Ford Total Performance is a coffee-table-sized telling of the long history of Ford Motorsports, reaching all the way back to the very first Model T and Model A races. Using hundreds of fantastic historical and modern photos, author and retired automotive journalist Martyn L. Schorr takes you bit by bit through Ford’s triumphs and losses up until (almost) the present day, outlining in exact detail all of the vehicles and races along the way.
Physically, you couldn’t ask for better quality in Ford Total Performance. The art–whether on the dust jacket, inside cover, or inside the book–is stunning, and the entire volume comes in a sturdy, hardbound package. The pages inside are thick (probably due to the high amount of ink), but are not glossy, so all the text is easily readable.
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Author Martyn L. Schorr loves Ford motorsports. He loves it in a “let me show you my collection of Ford pictures, I put them in a special book to show you” kind of way. On top of that, he is incredibly knowledgeable–he can (and does) quote the exact statistics of the modified Model T speedster driven by a man named Bill Stelcher, right on down the wheelbase size (99″, if you are curious).
Schorr isn’t just statistics-knowledgable, though. He lived through and experienced some of the greatest portions of Ford’s racing history, including once test-driving a car at a media event with the legendary Carroll Shelby (oh, and there was some prince, or something?).
However, it is with great reluctance that I point out two underlying concerns I have with Ford Total Performance.
First, Schorr’s written voice certainly shows his passion for the subject matter, but almost too much. Instead of the text sounding like the writing of a knowledgeable car enthusiast and journalist, his over-expressive tone comes across as youthful over-eagerness (for instance, overusing exclamation points whenever something is supposed to be impressive). The tone repeatedly crosses the line from enthusiasm into forced excitement.
Second, while the book is filled with information, it could be more organized. Each chapter begins in a specific year on a specific topic, yet the text quickly meanders off-subject onto various tangents, including strange non sequiturs and short biopics of people he has spoken to, which readers will have trouble following. These would be better suited to sidebar sections apart from the main narrative of the text. Because of this meandering approach, Schorr’s writing often gets preoccupied with minute details, sometimes breezing past fascinating stories.
Taken all together, though, Ford Total Performance makes for a suitable coffee table book–it is large, vibrant, and is divided up into bite-sized pieces to be consumed while your guest is waiting. It is packed with interesting information and stories from one of the most American car brands. Just don’t try to sit down and read it straight through.
Ford Total Performance is available through Amazon, Indiebound, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, and other retailers.
Product provided for review by publisher.
Daniel Susco is a native of the Dayton-Cincinnati area, and has written on a multitude of subjects. He can discuss Shakespeare, expound on Classical Mythology, and even make witty jokes about Pliny the Elder (More like “Pliny the Rounder,” right?). In his free time, Daniel enjoys reading, cooking, woodworking, and long walks on the beach (just kidding – sunburn is no joke). See more articles by Daniel.