Paddock to Podium (The Mechanic’s View)


Max Rutherford


Next time you drive in wet weather, spare a thought to how your car copes with water on the road. Give the credit to motor racing, and to British Formula One driver Jackie Stewart, who went to a motor racing circuit in the Netherlands with dozens of tyres developed by Dunlop and thoroughly tested them in wet conditions. There to ensure it all went according to plan was New Zealand motor racing mechanic Max Rutherford, who ran the team of mechanics looking after Stewart’s cars in the first season the Scot won the F1 world championship. Need mention of ‘joint chief mechanic’ with Roger Hill. The tyre story is one of hundreds of insightful anecdotes Max tells about the world of motor racing as it entered the modern age, the days of legends like Stirling Moss, Jack Brabham, Stewart, Jochen Rindt, Chris Amon, Denny Hulme and Bruce McLaren. Max Rutherford was mechanic to several and close quarters observer of them all, his experiences on the circuits of Europe, Britain and America culminating in an award as the best motor racing mechanic in the world. This extraordinary collection of photographs and precise narrative on what went on behind the public face of motor sport is a compelling read. It begins with Max’s early escapades as a speedway driver in the small New Zealand city of New Plymouth – days I recall as a kid whose father owned one of the cars – and tells of his meteoric rise to be mechanic to motor racing’s champions.