Book Review: Jim McGee: Crew Chief of Champions


I first heard of Jim McGee when I read Clint Brawner’s pleasant autobiography “Indy 500 Mechanic” in Junior High School.  McGee cut his racing teeth working with Brawner on the tough USAC Championship car trail in the 1960’s.  With several publishers regurgitating the same subject matter on motorsports, it’s encouraging that Racemaker Press is publishing books on interesting personalities.  Jim McGee certainly fits that description.


Add veteran author Gordon Kirby along with Racemaker’s extensive photo library to the mix and you have an extremely outstanding book.  Kirby along with Jim McGee unveiled the book:  Jim McGee – Crew Chief of Champions at Indianapolis earlier this year in May, before this year’s “500.”  The book told largely in McGee’s own words leads the reader into McGee’s personal life which includes his upbringing in the Boston area, meeting his wife, and moving his family as his career progressed.  McGee’s recollection of building a roadster for the USAC circuit with his buddies for local super modified driver Ed Hoyle leads the reader back into a world long gone.


McGee’s remembrances with the “old school” Brawner is equally entertaining, it also showed the contrast between the ‘old man’ and the ‘kid.’  Add a young and brash Mario Andretti and the stories are fun and enjoyable. The chapter which includes the story of Roger Penske “firing” Bobby Unser is amazing.


Indy cars wrenched by the talented McGee won 90 races between 1965-2005, including four Indianapolis 500s as well as nine USAC and CART Indy Car championships. This book features interviews with all the top drivers and team owners McGee worked with over his long career, including championship-winning drivers the aforementioned Andretti (three times), Tom Sneva (twice), Rick Mears, Emerson Fittipaldi, Bobby Rahal and Nigel Mansell. This new book also traces McGee’s role in the development of today’s big race teams with many employees and fleets of engineers in contrast to the three and four-man teams of the early ’60s. If you read the Brawner book, what better way to juxtapose it?


The McGee biography comprises over 300 images, many never before published. This is a handsome, hard-bound full-sized book, 288 pages, fully indexed with statistical information charts. It also features the photography of Dennis Torres, David Knox, Dan Boyd, Jutta Fausel, Paul Webb, Steve Swope and David Hutson.


$75.00 –

Racemaker’s press release contributed to this review

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