Author: Barry Green, Hardbound, 152 Pages, ISBN: 0646368613, 1st Edition, 1999
Foreword by Sir Jack Brabham, OBE - Unused book SIGNED by Frank Gardner, John French, Charlie Smith, Kevin Bartlett, etc
As with all good books, there's a story behind the story. Driven to Succeed - the Alec Mildren Story - was spawned from a 1500-word magazine article on the man himself I wrote for the November/December 1997 issue of Australasia's only motorsport glossy, Motor Racing
Australia. As is my way, I forwarded on a copy to Alec and his wife Marj and, as is the Mildren way, received a thankyou back in due course.
But enclosed was something else - several foolscap pages of neatly hand-written notes from Marj telling me more about Alec than could have feasibly been covered in the magazine article. At the end was a question that would prove the catalyst for what is in front of you now - "Can you and I put a book together about this man?"
Writing a 1500 word magazine article is one thing - writing a book 40 times that size is another. But as Frank Gardner, Kevin Bartlett and Glenn Abbey would surely attest, being asked to work for the name Mildren is an opportunity you don't pass up. Consequently, here we are ...
To be honest, I cannot claim to have seen Alec Mildren race - I was simply too young. I have, therefore, wherever possible used contemporary reports of the day, to add credibility. The same goes for personal accounts - let those who know tell the story in their words.
As a schoolkid who would any day prefer to have his nose buried in a copy of Racing Car News or Autosportman than a text book, I knew all about the yolk-yellow Mildren team cars of Gardner and Bartlett, Sach and Chivas, Stewart and French and their winning ways.
Sure, I was aware of Alec's driving feats, but the image I had of him at that stage was this Ferrari-like figure overseeing work at the coal face, a snowy-haired man with dark-rimmed sunglasses, always immaculately dressed in cheese-cutter cap, crisp long-sleeved shirt, pressed slacks and quality leather shoes. Like Il Commendatore, he appeared to me as a man in control. A man who knew what he wanted and how to get it. A man all and sundry respected. Thirty-something years later, after delving into thousands of words already printed about him, talking for hours to numerous people of different generations who knew him and indeed, to the man himself, that perception was pretty damn accurate. Hopefully, my words will convey all that and more as you read Driven to Succeed.
This biography, as you will notice, has been chapterised according to the various phases in Alec's life rather than simply giving a diarised account of his first to last day. Although the chapters are assembled chronologically, there is some overlap, but isn't that life? It's never as clear cut and orderly as many would like. What this method of construction highlights at a glance, though, is just what a colourful, varied and exciting life Alec Mildren led. He was many things to many people over many years.
No doubt, despite the best efforts of all concerned, there will inevitably be some inaccuracy or oversight - if there isn't, it will be the first book every published that is blemish-free! If this story lacks one thing, then I must - from a journalist's enquiring disposition - concede
I would have liked more answers to 'Why?'. There is plenty about the 'Who', 'What', 'When' and 'Where', but 'Why' - not as much. Only Alec could have answered that. Perhaps that's the way he wanted it. Maybe I shouldn't be too disappointed. Maybe his soulful personal philosophy on life was like that of the mountaineer, who, when asked why - "Why risk your life climbing Everest?" - answered succinctly, "Because it's there". Maybe, just maybe, Imes 'Why' Alec Mildren did all that he did. It was simply there to do - a challenge - however difficult or dangerous.
I trust and pray that I have done this great man justice, for it has indeed been an honour and privilege to write the Alec Mildren Story. .
- Author's Preface