My Review of ‘My Greatest Defeat’ by Will Buxton
After having a great time speaking to Will Buxton for my onthepitwall.com site, I decided to read his book, ‘My Greatest Defeat: Stories of hardship and hope from motor racing’s finest heroes’. It seemed like something I’d like as I enjoy Will’s candid writing style.
I found this book incredibly moving. To put it simply, ‘My Greatest Defeat’ is a beautiful composition of human resilience. As stated in the long-form title, the book features interviews with motorsport legends such as Alain Prost, Damon Hill, Niki Lauda, and Emerson Fittipaldi. Will also spoke to racers outside the F1 world, including the great Jimmie Johnson, Mario Andretti, Jeff Gordon, and Tom Kristensen. When reading ‘My Greatest Defeat’, I had not heard of at least half of the people Will chose to spotlight, but it didn’t stop me from enjoying the book.
I found Alex Zanardi’s story one of the most enjoyable, despite having no idea who he was before reading that chapter. Zanardi is a two-time CART champion, winning in 1997 and 1998. In 2001, he “lost both legs and almost three-quarters of the blood in his body” in a horrific racing accident. Afterwards, Zanardi discovered a new passion, handcycling. Since then, he has won four Paralympic gold medals and two silver.
Other chapters, such as the one dedicated to Jeff Gordon, feature drivers who said their biggest defeat was outside motorsport. For Gordon, that was his divorce. I appreciated that, as it brings out the “human” side of racing drivers that we don’t often get to see.
Some reviews of this book have questioned its format. Each chapter/profile on a motorsport legend is styled with a summary of the person’s accomplishments and then a Q&A formatted transcript of their chat with Will. That didn’t bother me at all because I believe it enhanced the sincerity of Will’s conversations with the drivers. It made every interview flow; each chapter felt raw and emotional. In a book about the challenging aspects of life and finding hope through the hardships, genuine writing is essential.
In short, ‘My Greatest Defeat’ is a novel that should be on every motorsport fan’s bookshelf, proven by the profound meaning behind each page and the heartfelt message it shares with readers.