Driven To Crime: True stories of wrongdoing in motor racing

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Driven To Crime: True stories of wrongdoing in motor racing

Driven To Crime: True stories of wrongdoing in motor racing

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He’s similarly cagey over who organised the Max Mosley News of the World sexposé, quoting from Mosley’s autobiography that “the conventional wisdom… has always been that someone in F1 was behind it”. Besley simply concludes “there are several suspects” – and wisely stops there. When Munroe appeared at Reading Crown Court in September 2000, the prosecution stated that he had used the stolen money to buy lots of cars as well as to fund the racing team. Besides the cars already mentioned — the two Ferraris and the two McLarens — his fleet of road cars included three Aston Martins, three Mercedes and a Ferrari 550 Maranello. He had also acquired two important historic racing cars, an ex-Gerhard Berger Benetton Formula 1 car and a Silk Cut-liveried Jaguar XJR Le Mans car. He certainly had good automotive taste.

A serial conman and deluded ‘Walter Mitty’ fantasist, James Munroe — born James Cox —appeared to typify dull, unremarkable respectability but led a very public and extravagant double life. During the week he was the bespectacled manager of an accounts department but at weekends he became an attention-seeking, self-styled ‘millionaire businessman’ and ‘gentleman racer’ of a McLaren F1 GTR. Through his extraordinary duplicity, the ultimate vanity project was unwittingly financed by funds embezzled from his employer.

Reid Railton

There are, and yes I’m going to say it, the usual suspects: Nelson Piquet Jr and Crashgate, drug-running John Paul Sr and Jr, Spygate, Jean-Pierre van Rossem who bought the Onyx F1 team before his dubious Moneytron firm imploded (he later bought a refrigerated coffin for his wife).

Other misdemeanours: Roy James (Great Train Robbery getaway driver); Bertrand Gachot (jailed after road rage in London); Juan Manuel Fangio (kidnapped by Cuban rebels in 1958); Colin Chapman (the unresolved ‘DeLorean Affair’); ‘Spygate’ (Ferrari design secrets passed to McLaren).I’ve never read anything like it, an extraordinary book of wrongdoing in the world of motor racing. The writing is flawless, the research meticulous. This book should become a classic and essential reading, not just for those taking part in this ludicrously expensive pursuit, but to all those interested in a totally honest, no holds barred insight into the world of such pervasive crime. He bought a Ferrari F355 Challenge, which was a special race-bred version of the F355, the 348tb’s successor. However, the woefully inexperienced driver’s performance was underwhelming to say the least and he found himself consistently and hopelessly outclassed, trailing behind not only all the modified cars in his class but also most of the slower standard cars. His fellow competitors found him a very ordinary, quiet and unassuming man who made no attempt to mix with them. For the second round, at picturesque Oulton Park in Cheshire on 3rd May, there was special dispensation for Goodwin to drive solo because the ‘self-made multi-millionaire’, as Munroe had started to describe himself, was reported by Autosport magazine to be ‘away on business’. Goodwin again put the car on pole position and recorded the fastest lap of the race on his way to third place, complete with the obligatory pitstop. To prepare and run the McLaren, Munroe had engaged the well-respected team AM Racing, owned and managed by Aston Martin dealer Paul Spires, an accomplished racing driver himself who was also scheduled to race the car. Although AM Racing’s previous experience had been mainly in the preparation and running of historic Le Mans cars, Spires had put together a very strong group of engineers and the operation proved to be well up to the required standard. Munroe announced to the media: ‘We have no pretensions to winning races. We could have put a high-profile professional in the car but we wanted to keep it as a purely privateer team. We will rotate the driving between the three of us and see how it works out. Most importantly, we want to show that we are doing this properly.’

Thanks for sharing ! F1 has always been circled by criminals, fraudsters and shady characters, no question about that. Though there is no centralized resource that tells all the crimes that happened in F1. Maybe the FOM don’t want these stories to come up so they don’t tarnish the reputation of the sport especially for the younger generation. I just hope the book goes into the fine details. Some of the stories that crossed my mind : When Goodwin flew in from America, where he had been racing at Sebring, and topped the official pre-season testing sessions at Silverstone, spirits were high and Spires said: ‘It couldn’t have gone better. We now have a true pro-am [professional-amateur] line-up but I think we can win races.’ As Goodwin’s international career was in the ascendency, this wasn’t a drive he needed or even particularly wanted, but he accepted it on the basis that it would do him no harm, keep him race-sharp and reward him with, in his words, ‘a crazy amount of money’.Brabham F1 sale to an investment company owned by a Swiss Banker who scammed investors for millions and fled to the USA before his trial has taken place which left the team in dispute of ownership before being sold to the Japanese company Middlebridge Group. Besley’s writing brings two great qualities. Firstly, his ability to clearly and succinctly explain some highly-complex financial crimes means that would could easily be impenetrable passages are highly readable. Secondly, the nuance to his tone allows him to say a lot while objectively reporting the facts. It was while Munroe was away on a two-week family holiday in Spain that his life of subterfuge began to unravel. In subsequent interviews with Thames Valley Police, he admitted all the charges of fraud, saying that he did it because he was ‘disillusioned with his job’ and wanted to ‘step up’. He said that he fully recognised that his job had put him in a position where it was easy to take advantage. Initially, he said, he had simply intended to use the stolen money to fund a lavish personal lifestyle, which included buying an expensive Rolex watch, before his greed escalated and he progressed to buying expensive sportscars. With it all seeming so easy, the regularity with which he sent phoney invoices to his employers spiralled out of control.



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