Hilarious travel writing from Jeremy Clarkson on his favourite subject - cars and the people who drive them
In a revamped, refreshed and expanded edition, Motorworld appears in paperback for the first time.
From Iceland to Australia, Clarkson travels the world exploring car culture. This is comic travel writing at its laugh-out-loud funniest.
Fly Down to Reno
The P-51 Mustang was America’s answer to the Japanese
Zero. Powered by a US-built Rolls-Royce Merlin
engine, it delivered 1500 horsepower and a knockout blow
to the flying machines of the Pacific Rim.
However, the P-51 in which I flew was churning out
3000 horsepower and could deliver a knockout blow to
my central nervous system – which was very nervous
You see, if a 1940s’ car breaks down, and let’s face it
they do, a lot, you coast to the side of the road and await
the AA. But if a 1940s’ plane breaks down it doesn’t so
much as coast but plummet.
And that’s a normal plane. But the one in which I went
for a ride had been tuned and fettled to turn it from war
plane into a 1990s’ racer. The cockpit canopy had been
lopped off each of the wings to reduce drag, and the engine
had been tweaked to the point where it was a bomb. And
the clock was ticking.
In the back, it was noisy and hot and as the thermals
rose to buffet our undersides, there were moments of
queasiness, though thankfully they stopped short of
becoming the spectacular outpourings that occurred in
There wasn’t time to be sick anyhow. You see, an F-15
struts its stuff in the stratosphere, but the Mustang was
designed for low-level performance. So I now know what
it’s like to do 500 mph 50 feet from the deck.
It’s bloody good fun right up to the moment when
the pilot decides to turn. This of course means you stay
50 feet up but one of the wings does not. From where I
was sitting, it seemed like the tip was actually pruning the
The pilots need to be familiar with ultra-low flight
because in a race they may need to get among the weeds
to overtake. But we weren’t in a race. So there was no
need to be down there so pleeeeease Mr Pilot, can we go
back up again. Pretty please? With bows on?
The answer was no, and for an hour we charged about
in the undergrowth, flicking left and right to avoid small
mounds and molehills.
Death, had it come, would have been mercifully swift
and I knew the organisers had a standby act to keep
the crowd amused while they hosed me down a drain
Last year, after a fatal accident, a wing walker was
despatched to keep everyone occupied but that went
wrong too. As a finale, the pilot flipped his plane upside
down so his wing-walking passenger was dangling underneath.
However, he misjudged it a bit and took the guy’s
Air racing is under threat in America because its
dangerous – and over there, dangerous is a dirtier word
However, even before the legislators move in, there’s a
very real possibility that the supply of old planes will dry
up and that will be it.
I’m just glad that I got to have a go before they face the
Jeremy Clarkson, tells penguin.co.uk what makes him angry, what puts a smile on his face, his greatest fear and his greatest (unsurprising) vice.
What are you reading at the moment?
Which author do you most admire?
What’s your earliest memory?
What is your greatest fear?
How would you like to be remembered?
Have you even done something you’ve really regretted?
How do you spoil yourself?
What’s your favourite word/book?
Who do you turn to in a crisis?
What makes you angry?
Have you ever had any other jobs apart from writing?
Are you in love?
What’s your worst vice?
What are you proudest of?
Where do you write?
Where’s your favourite city?
When was the last time you cried?
One wish; what would it be?
Did you enjoy school?
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