Michael Cooper was one of the photographic elite who covered Grand Prix, sports car racing and much else across England and Europe from the late 1950s to the early 1970s.
He often accompanied the legendary Geoff Goddard, equally renowned artist Michael Turner and a cast of chums and fellow snappers as they enjoyed the unfettered access to every nook and cranny that made his images so memorable.
Eventually Michael lost patience with the growing restrictions on access to trackside and even the drivers in some cases plus the growing commercialisation and he gradually withdrew from regular race attendance during the early to late 1970s. Nevertheless he still attended the British GP into the 1980s but had long since returned to contract work, having begun his career as a jobbing commercial photographer decades earlier.
In the post war years Great Britain struggled under economic and political burdens that necessitated an almost permanent export drive to provide the money to survive.
It was this scenario that perhaps most encouraged William (later Sir William) Lyons to compete even though his priorities were always toward production rather than racing. Nevertheless it was recognised that competition success sold the Jaguar brand big time especially across the Atlantic and the 5 Le Mans victories during the 1950s plus many other triumphs in racing and rallying kept the tills ringing.
Jaguar at Le Mans is a story in two parts, 1950-1964 covering the XK engined cars and 1984-1995 the tale of Group 44 and the later TWR V12 engined cars with the two XJ220 attempts during 1993 and 1995 completing the tale. Rudy Mailander’s B/W images feature heavily in the early years, many never before seen or since courtesy of Ludvigsen Library.
Duncan Hamilton’s widow Angela Hamilton and son Adrian, Stan Sproat of Ecurie Ecosse, Peter Sargent, Peter Lumsden, Brian Playford, Geoff Goddard, Maurice Rowe, John Pearson, Claude Dubois, Brian Redman, Win Percy, Kevin Lee, Jeff Wilson, Keith Partridge, Hugh Chamberlain and Tony Southgate (who also wrote the foreword) all recalled their period memories of the 1950s, 1960s, 1980s and 1990s shared their knowledge of Jaguar’s racing heritage.
This sumptuous Palawan Press production (weighing 6 kg with slip case) has 400 plus images of Michael’s life and times. Starting with his early photographic exploits in the military and later film stills it majors on the halcyon days of 1960s motor racing and the characters therein. I wrote it in conjunction with Michael during 1999/2000 using a distilled choice, many of them Michael’s favourites, from a list of thousands.
Publisher Simon Draper suggested that the text should feature period comment plus illustrations on the news of the day which provides an appropriate backdrop to the images. Production values are extremely high and each chapter set out in chronological order has the text in different colours.
The foreword is by Nick Mason and be warned you will need a strong shelf and strong arms or perhaps a lectern to read it.