Hobbo: Motor Racer, Motor Mouth

The David Hobbs story is a great read about a talented personality

Hobbo by David HobbsThere are 3 drivers in racing history that I truly admire. None of them won a Grand Prix or the Indy 500. They have all driven multiple disciplines of racing cars and did well in all of them. Brian Redman raced for Porsche, Ferrari and Jim Hall, winning in a Porsche 917K, a Ferrari 312P and a Lola T332. Sam Posey drove factory BMWs, NART Ferraris and Indy Eagles. Winning in some, more than respectable in all. Then there is David Hobbs, or “Hobbo”.

Hobbo by David Hobbs Gulf Ford GT40A guy that drove just about anything offered to him. From private Ferraris to Gulf Ford GT40s and Porsches and to several spells as a factory BMW driver. IMSA, NASCAR, Indy, F5000, TransAm, Can-Am, LeMans. Some of the teams let him down with poorly prepared machinery. Some of the top teams put him in great cars and he won. Yet it didn’t matter what car he was driving. He made them all look good no matter what.

The first race at which I saw David Hobbs drive was the 1973 Can-Am race at Watkins Glen, where he took his ex-works McLaren M20 to second place behind Mark Donohue’s Porsche 917/30. Nobody was going to beat Donohue that day. Hobbs beat everyone else, including a few Porsche 917/10s which should have been superior.

The Clag Meister

I have already spoken of Mr. Hobbs in glowing terms. You might like to read Clag, my first piece about Hobbs. It gives more of the back story of his career. This article is about his wonderful autobiographical book.

Hobbo by David Hobbs Formula 1Mr. Hobbs recalls his racing history from the humble beginning when he raced his father’s Jaguar, which he of course crashed. David was chagrined, Dad was gracious. David fixed it. He moved on to a Lotus Elite, which he prepared and raced to such good effect that it was loaned to the works Lotus team on occasion. This led to drives in Lotus, Triumph, Jaguar and Lola cars.

He co-drove with some of the best racers in the game, many more accomplished than himself. This led to better drives with the best teams as word got out about his reliability on the track and ability to get along with almost anyone, even the biggest of egos in the sport.

Hobbo by David Hobbs PenskeIt’s a tale of a driving career told with accuracy, humor and hindsight. 

Mags

The story of his career is a straight-ahead recounting of the varied cars and tracks he raced on. Along the way, we meet the people that shaped his life and racing career and nicknamed him “Hobbo”. He sheds light on some of the stars of the day and their real egos and personalities. Racing is definitely about egos at so many levels. This is sport after all. Winners believe they are winners and work to reinforce this, sometimes at the expense of others. The great John Surtees, a champion on two and four wheels, is portrayed as egotistical and eager to trash others to pump himself up. Many others are prima donnas in their teams, unable to share the limelight with the equally talented Hobbs.

Hobbo by David Hobbs PorscheHobbo never forgets what is most important, though. The biggest winner throughout his life has been his wife, Margaret (nicknamed “Mags”). Mags appears many times throughout the book as the constant companion to early races and adventures. She is the one constant that kept him sane while on long stints away from home racing all over the world. She raised their two sons and kept the home fires burning. Even while not knowing whether Hobbo would come home in one piece; he raced in that period when racing deaths were a constant.

A photographic delight

This 304 page book was a pretty quick read. Lavish with many color or black and white photos, the full story of a great racer is crystal clear. I was surprised at some of the cars he drove during his career. I have followed Hobbs since the GT40 era and still did not realize that he drove a Group 44 Jaguar and the Goodwrench Corvette GTP car or the Cooke-Woods Lola GTP, all as a fill-in driver. This makes sense though. Hobbo was the #1 replacement driver on many teams’ list because he was a smart, careful and quick driver.

The book is never dry whatsoever. Much of the book recounts the back stories before and after the races. Wild celebrations and missed opportunities. Wild drives to the races and jaunts cross-country to others. Driving career over, he morphed into one of the most entertaining motorsport TV personalities.

The foreword to the book is written by his long-time friend Sam Posey. Which is fitting because Hobbs wrote the foreword for Posey’s book.

All in all, a very worthwhile read. Published by Evro Publishing. 304 pages. $79.99 from Motorsport Collector or your favorite book seller.

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