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An Independent Man by Eddie Jordan

Release date: 06th June, 2007
Publisher: Orion Publishing

List Price: £18.99
Our Price: £11.33
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An Independent Man
By Eddie Jordan
Orion Publishing price: £11.33, saving 40% on rrp

Close your eyes and think 'Formula One' for a second and almost certainly, in amongst the succession of images that flood past, is an underlying one which depicts glamour, celebrity and exotic-sounding locations, or perhaps a mixture of all three.

Even today, the sport trades on this image; it constantly gives the impression of wanting to remain slightly 'superior' by portraying itself as a business dripping with money and prestige, although much of its grandeur is attributable to the efforts of one man - Bernie Ecclestone. Remove the sport's self-applied coating of glitz and it can be seen for what it is: a group of guys racing cars around a track as fast as they can.

One suspects that Eddie Jordan could see Formula One in precisely this manner, otherwise the self-confessed 'chancer' from Dublin would surely never have had the temerity to try and break through its seemingly golden portals. Eddie recognised they were not golden at all - more akin to a dash of spray paint hastily applied to an MDF off-cut. In other words, within the F1 business, he immediately found himself among friends and other chancers.

Jordan financed his first move into motor sport by selling out-of-date salmon to rugby fans leaving Lansdowne Road; he sold carpet scraps by the side of the road and once, when booked for speeding, had to sell his car. This was a man born miles away from a silver spoon, but he could probably get you one if required, even at a young age. His energy and willingness to try anything is evident throughout this book which, unusually, he has written himself; it's a mark of the man that he has undertaken such a time-consuming task unaided.

But there are millions of chancers, go-getters, try-anything-once types, so what makes Jordan different?

I imagine it boils down to an inherent determination not to get side-tracked. Granted, he is prepared to try anything, but ultimately, it's all in the name of breaking into Formula One's inner circle. He was clearly captivated by racing after first sampling go-karting in Jersey and his endeavours when trying to become an established driver in British and Irish junior motor racing induce a permanent smile on the reader's face. Jordan had little in the way of commercial assets, but my word, did he have the gift of the gab.

Nevertheless, while Jordan is excellent on detailed accounts of how he managed to crash through Formula One's glass door and create a successful racing team bearing his name, for such a gregarious character, there does seem to be a shortage of anecdotes which portray the sport's leading characters in a less than flattering light. Indeed, there is a sense that perhaps Eddie has modified the narrative a little as he may consider himself to be Ecclestone's natural heir.

Nonetheless, it would be churlish to discount a genuine sporting autobiography because it fails to dish the dirt on some characters. Instead, Jordan is excellent (and incredibly clear) on much of F1's technical explanations and pulls no punches when he says that a spectacular crash broadcast on TV was invariably good for sponsors. He gave Michael Schumacher his first drive in F1, mercilessly wound up Ayrton Senna and in 1998, the Jordan team achieved the seemingly impossible by winning its first race.

If Eddie Jordan does eventually succeed Bernie Ecclestone as Formula One's supremo, it's to be hoped that he adopts the same approach which got him into the game in the first place. With Eddie at the helm and drivers such as Lewis Hamilton on the grid, the sport's popularity could soar - and that thin veneer of soiled glitz could finally be washed away.

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