Got my copy of the reissued book "My Hero, My Friend Jimmy Bryan" and the accompanying DVD "The Legend of Jimmy Bryan" earlier this week.
I know the book came out years ago in its first edition and is well known here, I'm just glad it's available again ... at a reasonable price; I'd never bought it before because it was so hard to get and expensive ... because it's superb. I really think you get more of the true flavor of the man by having the story told through the eyes of a kid than you would from a conventional birth-to-death biography, although there certainly could be room for one of those should someone be so inclined.
The DVD is excellent too, albeit a little brief, just over 30 minutes, kind of left you wanting more. There's more interviews with Jimmy, commercials he did, etc., than actual racing footage, which really isn't a bad thing because I'd never heard the guy's voice before.
The thing is ... and I'd heard this before, that whether from hard living, hard driving or a mixture of both, Jimmy really aged before his time, and the DVD touches on that (talks about him gaining weight, sort of hinting at least the way I perceived it that his racing chops had gotten rusty), and actually seeing him on film confirms that. The DVD has what is billed as the last filmed interview he ever did, and at least to my eyes he looked 54, not 34.
That begs the question ... and this also has been touched on over the years, although I need to tread lightly here given the fact that Jimmy still is a hero to a lot of people, me included ... as to whether folks like Rodger Ward, Clint Brawner and Eddie Sachs were right in saying that he really wasn't in shape to be at Langhorne on Father's Day 1960.
I know Ward and Brawner didn't catch heat for it, because they were generally respected and apparently said it to Jimmy's face beforehand, not in the press afterward. According to Denny Miller's book on Eddie (another great read BTW), Eddie said it in the press after the wreck, without very much tact, and pretty much got crucified for it (and I don't know when Miller did his interviews, but there were people like Charlie Brockman, who based on his comments throughout the book seemed to pretty much detest Eddie, who still were bitter about those comments probably 30 years after we lost Eddie).
But the thing is, only one man had the right to make that choice, that man made the only choice that was probably in his DNA to make ... and the rest is history.