Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport, the teams have multi-million-pound budgets, some of the drivers are household names and for those looking in from the outside, it is seen as a high octane exotic sport. I have been an F1 fan since about the age of eight and the team that I have supported since then is McLaren; mostly because I lived in the same town as them.
Even though the drivers are immensely talented they would be nowhere without the teams of engineers and mechanics to ensure that they are in the best position to win. In its heyday, McLaren under Ron Dennis was seen as the best and most professional team in the paddock, most because of his obsessive attention to detail. AS the budgets were so enormous, they would think nothing os flying the entire test team back from a track for a Christmas party and flying them back, slightly worse for wear and day later. They even used a helicopter to try and dry a track out to test a component.
In this high-pressure environment was Mike ‘Elvis’ Priestley. He joined them as a mechanic and worked his way up from being the guy to fit a nose cone in a race to become one of the men changing the wheels in the lightning fast 3-second pit stops. They would sometimes have to pull a-l night shifts after the drivers had wrecked the car, change engines when the had blown and ensured that their driver had the very best car at their disposal.
This work hard mentality also meant that they played hard and also drunk hard too and Priestley’s book is full of stories about the races and the aftermath after a successful weekend, of hire cars trashed, the continual practical jokes that they played on each other and the drivers. He also gives the inside story on the Spygate scandal that engulfed McLaren and the fierce rivalry between Alonso and Hamilton. Priestley tells a good story and this is an entertaining read of the slightly murky reality that lies behind the pristine world of F1.