Looking at a landmark Lotus

If you know anything at all about auto racing journalism, you know who Pete Lyons is. Born in New York, Pete moved to California and in the 1960s, became one of the world’s most acclaimed racing photojournalists. He’s best known for intimately documenting the outrageous Can-Am series for unlimited sports cars, but Pete also spent countless hours chasing and documenting other genres of motorsport. One of them was Formula 1, which leads us to this, his latest work. Lotus 72 is an in-depth story about the development of the first truly great F1 car of the 1970s, brimming with innovation.

Lotus 72, the book, is a look at how this landmark car came to be, and what it accomplished. Jointly designed by Colin Chapman and Maurice Phillipe, the 72 was an early but highly influential study of incorporating aerodynamics into the F1 toolkit. Its wedge shape was borrowed from the Lotus 56 gas turbine cars that Chapman had designed to race in the Indianapolis 500, and that theory was expanded by the 72’s incorporation of inboard disc brakes, side-mounted radiators and a huge overhead airbox, technologies that soon became standard practice. Just nine Lotus 72 chassis were ever built, but they had outsized influence in contrast to their numbers: Jochen Rindt drove the works 72 to multiple victories before being killed at Monza; he won the 1970 world championship posthumously. And Emerson Fittipaldi – who contributes the foreword here – used the 72 to win his first world title in 1972. Pete takes 320 large-format hardcover pages to tell the story of this groundbreaking car, illuminated by more than 360 photos, including his own. This title is simply a must for anyone interested in F1’s technical history and the unfettered genius of Chapman. It’s available for $79.95 by Quarto as part of its Formula 1 Greats series of titles.

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