Joe’s story

I am a professional Formula 1 writer and have been since 1988. I have attended every race since then – a unique achievement in the sport these days.

Like many other journalists I studied history, specialising in secret services. This proved to be useful when I researched and wrote a book called The Grand Prix Saboteurs”. I have also written a book that has nothing to do with motorsport, the story of Henry Kendall, a sea captain who lived a life of adventure. I have written various others, including the World Atlas of Motor Racing.

I spent five years learning the business in other forms of motor racing around the world, while working for Autosport magazine in London. I left in 1993 and have been a freelance ever since.

I established an award-winning racing industry e-newsletter (now called JSBM) in 1995 and continue to produce it every week. It is read by many of the sport’s decision makers.

In 2000 I launched, which became one of the most respected early websites in F1. I am no longer involved in that but helped to launch F1’s first e-magazine, called grandprix+, in 2007. It is read by subscribers all over the world and is still the fastest F1 magazine, available around six hours after each race.

I regularly podcast with the Missed Apex organisation and I host Audience events (real and virtual), which allows F1 fans to ask me questions about the sport.

I’ve done a lot of other stuff along the way, including broadcasting, script and speech writing, making speeches, consulting with F1 teams, sponsors, TV companies, sporting authorities and even lecturing at places like the MIT Media Lab and Cranfield University.

I was also a non-executive director of Caterham Cars for a time.

Since 1992 I have happily lived in France.

51 thoughts on “Joe’s story

  1. Hi Joe

    Not quite sure where to write this, so thought I’d put it here.

    I’ve just finished reading “The Man Who Caught Crippen” – splendid read – took me just under a day in between writing and teaching music!

    I have to admit I spent a lot of the time wondering what made you choose this particular subject (I was waiting to find out if he had raced…), until I got near the end – p234 was a complete giveaway actually! I assume Henry is your great-grandfather?

    If so what a great book to leave for your own descendants, as well as the rest of us. Well done also for confusing my library system – you are the only author to have books in both of the two subjects dear to my heart – motor racing and social / family history / biography.

    It was fascinating to read yet another angle on those days, especially the 1900’s, which I feel quite close to as my grandmother was born then, and she told me many stories about that era when she found out I was interested.

    I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the latest stuff about “Crippen didn’t really murder his wife” as apparently there are indications that the body described in your book wasn’t hers. If that’s the case, he had ample time to tell the truth; it sounds as if the interrogation / interviewing techniques were conducted in a very civilised manner. IMHO whether it was her or not, there was a body in his cellar…

    Anyway enough of that. Well done once again for a great book, a great read and a great talking point. Since I started writing this message, one of my pupils has just popped in and is now borrowing it!

    I can’t wait to read your next book – any ideas what it will be?

    Best Wishes


    1. Did Crippen murder his wife?

      Well, if he did not do it, why did he run away to Canada with his mistress, the pair of them in disguise. And why did he say “Thank God it is all over. The strain was too much” when he was arrested. I am afarid that revisionist historians leave out bits that don’t fit, like these….

  2. Joe,

    Wish you would tell us more about your personal connection to Kendall. Any recollections?

    I also wish more of the media would consider themselves students of history instead of focusing solely on the matter of the moment.

    Haven’t read your book yet but have read Larson’s. As the development of radio is deadly dull compared to a good marine pursuit, I’ll read yours next.

  3. Hi Joe,

    Wasn’t sure where to leave a simple praising comment, so thought i would post here! I would like to thank you for the blog and the great insights – especially from a business standpoint, that you give on the sport. You may or may not be thrilled to learn that one of you’re blog posts is being referenced in my Honours Dissertation, specificaly regarding the possiblity of Qatar hosting a GP in the future and the current GP’s in the middle east.

    Thanks once more!

    Ian Gordon

  4. Hi Joe, whilst being a life long fan of F1, i’m ashamed to say i’ve only recently become aware of yourself and in particular this blog. Discovering your writing however has been a revelation! Fantastic! I cant offer you enough high praise! Seriously great to read your work. Best wishes, Jamie Gill. (Manchester UK)

  5. Goodmorning Joe,

    As your blog is on of the first webpages to be opened (nearly) every day I am surprised to find a new/other template for your blog. If you allow me to comment on it I would say the following: Don’t like that the articles are fully opened, too wide the column and I miss the side column. IMHO the former version was ok. Maybe you can share the reasons for this change with us.

    1. The other thing they could do is event meahcrndise the WRC meahcrndise is much better (IMO) I have a pin-badge from each year I managed to attend the Wales Rally GB event, and a Wales Rally GB polo shirt rather than supporting a particular team or driver, I just want something to say I was there so I can see a market for similar event meahcrndise too but none of the F1 meahcrndise falls into that category either.I suppose it’s up to the teams to provide team specific meahcrndise to be honest, if I wanted to buy a Ferarri shirt, I’d be starting my hunt on Ferrari websites (both official, and fan sites) I wouldn’t go looking on the main F1 site.The main F1 site, if it wants to sell stuff at all should be selling stuff like books, dvd’s etc I’d be thinking along the lines of a book of profiles of the great drivers of the past, or other non-team-specific stuff.Just my thoughts

  6. This is neither here nor there, but I would love (and pay) to see/read your stories starting at the beginning and up until 2007 when GP+ began. I know the other pubs have the rights, so it’s not realistic, but for someone only old enough to have started following the sport around 2000, reading reports on events as they happened is the best way to get the truest sense of what those times were like.

  7. Hi Joe,

    I live in Quebec city, Canada and I’m great fan of F1 and history in general, including WW1, WW2 and boat tragedies. I saw a report last night about the sinking of the Empress of Ireland in 1914 near Rimouski and you were on the report talking about your grand father who was the captain of the boat. I didn’t know that you were speaking such a good french. I bought also the book The grand Prix saboteur which I really liked very much.

  8. Dear Joe,

    As a previous subscriber, (still haven’t got this years yet) I must first say how great I find the e-magazine!

    Now the arse kissing is dispensed with, I have a question. Over 20 years ago when I was just a small boy my Grandma and I were walking in Lincolnshire when we spotted a very old, and very lovely, Bentley with a striking RAC members badge proudly displayed at the front parked outside a cafe. We went into the cafe, knowing the owner well, and were immediately introduced to a friendly chap called Wilkie Wilkinson. He told us he was an ex-racer and had earned the RAC badge through his numerous exploits. This had a profound impact on me and started my obsession with motor sport, I even sent a letter to Murray Walker about it who was kind enough to send me an autograph.

    Anyway my question is do you know anything about him? There is only a brief entry on the dreaded wikipedia and hoped you might be able to point me in the right direction. Assuming you can find the time, of course!

    If you do I send my wholehearted thanks in advance! If not then I congratulate on a fantastic blog and hope you continue despite the trials and tribs, and maybe his will make a nice story for GP+?! !!

    Kind Regards

    Greg Dalrymple-White

    1. In 1987, Wilkinson published an autobiography appropriately entitled “Wilkie: The Motor Racing Legend” by W.E. (“Wikie”) Wilkinson and Chris Jones. Publisher was Nelson & Saunders. ISBN 0 947750 07 X. Good luck.

  9. Just read The Man Who Caught Crippen, what a fascinating story, around the world in a lifetime. A superb historical travelogue, morphed with a life story interspersed with political and nautical history. Excellent read, I really feel I know more about the period, the politics the history and engineering of shipping.



    Just A Bloke

  10. Hello Joe I have just read some comments about some changes in F1 for saturday. Let me give you some feedback.

    I was a colombian fan of JPMontoya when he was a pilot in F1. Now I watch F1 sometimes, because it is a kind boring for me, because there is not any colombian pilot and mainly because Hamilton win too many races.

    That is why I always think what change could make more exciting this F1 show.

    This is my idea: For me, the more exciting of this show is when a car overtake other. So, in some parts of every circuit ( let me say 200-1000 meters) split the circuit in two lanes that can no be crossed by the competitors. The starting grid is arranged in the inverse of the GC. So, the first pilot start last. Those zones with two lanes are for overtake the other cars. Could you imagine these zones in Monaco? That would be exciting.!!! Of course it is not easy and straigthforward this impelemtation. This would change this show a lot. In saturday, they (F1) can change whatever they want.

    Think about this idea.


    Eduardo Porras

  11. Martin Walker uses Grover-Williams and Benoit as the back story in his newest book. I was certain to find a reference to the Grand Prix Saboteurs in the acknowledgements, but he only cites his daughter, Kate Walker, as the person who put him on to this story. Shame, as I guess your the expert on this subject…

  12. Correction, the Grand Prix Saboteurs are mentioned on page 264, one of the characters has a copy lying aroundnin his,room…

  13. Hey Joe, love the blog. Your in-depth trackside knowledge of all things F1, make your blog a great read each and every post.

    My question…..

    In your opinion Joe, do you think we are going to see for the 2018 season a rebranded Redbull F1 Team, after declaring a partnership tie in Audi/VW ?
    The selling of Redbull ( including Toro Roso ) to the VW group ?
    A tie in with Audi ( partnership ) and the selling of Toro Rosso to VW, considering that the general belief, has been for sometime, that Redbull have been wanting to sell Toro Rosso……

    1. I do not see Red Bull being sold to Audi. If there is a deal (and it is not certain at all), I think it would be an engine supply deal with stipulations that red Bull would not bad mouth Audi if things were difficult. In the longer term, if Audi was to become successful in F1 terms, then they might follow the Mercedes route and become a manufacturer by one route or another and then we would be back in the 1930s with Mercedes, AutoUnion and Alfa Romeo…

  14. Hi Joe, I’d like to offer a suggestion for your fascinating facts about F1 — the fact that a Canadian aircraft engine once powered a formula 1 car, the Lotus 56. It was, to the best of my knowledge, designed and built in Canada by the Canadian subsidiary of Pratt & Whitney. Best wishes for the holidays and 2017.

  15. I am so very sorry to hear of the far too premature death of your very courageous sister. My thoughts are with you and your family.

  16. Sorry to hear about Gill yesterday Joe. Her courage and faith were an inspiration to so many as she both put into action to help others who had suffered similarly and to correct some of society’s views on rape. My sympathy to you and the rest of the family.

  17. I only recently discovered your blog and writing. And also very soon thereafter learned of your loss. My prayers for strength to the bereaved and may flights of angels sing the dearly departed to her rest.

  18. Hello Joe.
    I want to attend your audience in London next week. I have now freed up the time.
    The link has gone. Can you email me the link or post it again?
    Grant D

  19. Joe, I subscribed to GP+ on 21/12/16, but have heard nothing, nor since I contacted you a week or two back. Would you remind me of the queries contact email, please, unless there’s a better way to follow this up? I have the Paypal ref. Thanks, Peter F.

  20. Are you having your annual dinner in Montreal this year Joe? If so, where can I sign up for myself and a friend? Thanks.

  21. Hi Joe,

    I know you don’t like links being posted so if you Google ‘Rosemary Smith Renault F1’ there is a nice story there which shows the 79 year old Dubliner driving a Renault F1 car recently! You may have already seen it.

    Love the blog and GP+. I don’t comment much but devour everything you kindly post on the blog. Keep up the good work and ignore the whiners and rude folk!

  22. Hi Joe, Was wondering if there’s going to be an Audience in Singapore this year? Going to be heading in that direction in a couple of days. Thanks.

  23. Hi Joe, stumbled onto your blog a couple of years via twitter and I’ve become hooked every since. I’d just like to congratulate you on the informative insights into F1 and the entertaining travel and gastronomic encounters.
    As a former subscriber to Autosport(which I stopped taking some 10 years ago),and as one who has travelled to every UK motor circuit and a good many abroad, your writings appear not only enlightening and unbiased but also refreshingly reported. You manage to portray the sport and its surrounding atmosphere in such a tangible way conveying this grateful reader at least right into the arena,
    Many thanks, keep up the good work

  24. Hi Joe
    Just stumbled across your excellent
    Blog – fantastic
    Google seems to suggest that you were a flag marshal at Oulton back in the day.
    I flagged at Oulton for many years back in the John Ellison era.
    My first experience at the circuit was as a paddock marshal for the legendary Ferrari three car entry Gold Cup.
    Did Start Line with Tom Padden subsequently for a few seasons including the very first F5000 race — was deaf for a week after standing behind the grid for the start !
    I have the original surveyors plan of the as built full circuit dated August 1955 – pre pits with Paddy Denton and Rex Fosters scribblings for the short circuit.
    As a teenager, I would ride my bycicle to the circuit with my friends from Hartford and climb over the wall close to Nicker Brook to watch early club meetings – argh !
    The Mid Cheshire Motor Racing Club was the catylist for my interest in all things relating to the circuit in the early days —-
    Visited the circuit last week for practice for British F3 – only the track remains pretty much the same as original.
    Sad to hear of Dan’s demise – great signed picture of the great man in my comprehensive autograph book from the era – only Stirling Moss left now !
    Keep up the great work—-

    John Wood

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