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10 Racing Books to Channel Your Inner Speed Demon-

10 Racing Books to Channel Your Inner Speed Demon

These are the best ways in print that we know to get hooked on racing cars.

These are the best ways in print that we know to get hooked on racing cars.

1 The Art of Racing in the Rain (2009)
By Garth Stein This is no more a driving book than Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a shop manual. Rather, is a novel about a dying dog named Enzo recounting his lifelong wish to become a race-driving human—just like his owner, Denny, who gives Enzo some insights that drivers know to be true, such as your car goes where your eyes go. This popular Garth Stein novel gets good and bad reviews about its implausible premise and narration, yet it's captivating to a car guy, and we hear that it's a moving novel for dog people too.
2 The Stainless Steel Carrot (1972, revised 2012)
By Sylvia Wilkinson John Morton has been a stalwart road racer in the U.S. for more than five decades. In 1971 and 1972 he became part of the first successful team to race Japanese cars in the U.S., starting with the Datsun 510 for Brock Racing Enterprises (BRE) in the small-bore Trans Am class. In The Stainless Steel Carrot Sylvia Wilkinson, an author of 25 books and a road-racing fan, followed Morton's successful championship seasons with BRE and dove into the mind of the humble and respected racer. (Wilkinson was a long-time motorsports correspondent for AutoWeek, and currently is the auto racing contributor for World Book Encyclopedia.) Soft-spoken Morton went on to win his class in Le Mans in a Nissan coupe in 1994, but a couple of notable crashes remind his fans of an early twist to his career: stunt driving for movies and TV. Morton was a pioneer in using a cannon to make a running car flip over. "Gave me a heck of a headache, but it was worth it for 800 bucks," he told veteran racing writer Pete Lyons last summer.
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3 Performance Thinking (2012)
By Jacques Dallaire Think of this book as a self-help course for racers. Canadian Jacques Dallaire is an exercise physiologist who began measuring Formula 1 racing drivers' athletic performance in 1983, and has since consulted with more than 700 drivers, including names like world champ Nelson Piquet and the legendary Ayrton Senna. His new book Performance Thinking describes interactive exercises that help racers gain control of their mental attitudes toward performance, called rules of the mental road and a user manual for the human mind by his clients. Says three-time Indy 500 winner (and Dancing with the Stars champ) Helio Castroneves, "It might even change your life—as it has mine."
4 National Speedway Directory (Revised 2012)
By Timothy W. Frost We've studied the pages of this racer's atlas for its 37-year existence, and the National Speedway Directory is not just a list of directions to the hundreds of racetracks around North America. It also gives statistics, dimensions, and course maps. Yes, you can find this information online. But the beauty of the printed directory is flipping through the pages to find tracks you never knew existed. Wherever you live or travel, there's bound to be a collection of car nuts watching a race.
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5 The Mudge Pond Express (1976)
By Sam Posey Posey is known for his terrific driving performances in the SCCA Trans Am series with Roger Penske in 1968 and 1969, although he was the butt of pit-lane jokes when he used to show up at small club races in nearby Lime Rock, Conn., with a semi-truck for his Formula Vee car. (This was back when Nascar heroes towed their cars on open trailers behind beat-up old Buicks). His autobiography, The Mudge Pond Express, wanders the hazy line that existed between professional and hobby racer in the 1960s and 1970s. Posey finished Le Mans third in 1971 in a Ferrari, and won Sebring in 1975, as well as driving in two Formula 1 races and the 1972 Indy 500. Legendary racers of the time, such as Jim Hall, Vic Elford, Parnelli Jones, George Follmer, Dan Gurney, Swede Savage, Jerry Titus, Mark Donohue, and Peter Revson become characters who weave in and out of Posey's life. A passionate, driven driver, Posey later became an articulate and informed television commentator.
6 Stand On It (1974)
By Bill Neely and Bob Ottum This autobiography of fictional race driver Stoker Ace, documenting his hard-living, hard-driving life in stock cars, became a Burt Reynolds movie in 1983. Stand On It was roughly based on Curtis Turner, another stock car racing legend. Although the book depicts Ace's wild lifestyle in bars and cheap hotels near Southern racetracks, it also does a pretty good job of describing the lengths that racers during that era used to gain an advantage—cheating, in other words. This included removing weight by etching the interiors of roll cages with acid. Bill Neely was the manager of racing public relations for the Goodyear tire company in the early 1960s, and then retired at the age of 40 to write books about racing legends Cale Yarborough and Richard Petty. Neely wrote for Playboy and Sports Illustrated, as well as driving tours around the U.S. for other magazines. He co-wrote Stand On It with veteran Sports Illustrated reporter and author Bob Ottum.
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7 Bob Bondurant on High Performance Driving (1993)
By Bob Bondurant Bob Bondurant on High Performance Driving is the bible of driving fast, aimed at both professional racing drivers and beginning students, and Bondurant's driving school continues to graduate more and more of those beginners into the racing world. Bondurant started his school, currently at Firebird Raceway near Phoenix, in 1968 after a crash in 1967 left him with too many injuries to continue racing Formula 1 and Le Mans endurance cars. Top racers still take instruction from the Bondurant school, and this book is the text. Veteran Corvette racer Johnny O'Connell, who was an instructor at Bondurant's Firebird Raceway school until 1995, is now returning to expand the school to overseas tracks.
8 Going Faster! Mastering the Art of Race Driving (1997)
By Carl Lopez Like Bob Bondurant, racer Skip Barber created a respected driving school. Longtime Barber instructor and driving coach Carl Lopez compiled this handbook of racing wisdom. Going Faster! Mastering the Art of Race Driving includes contributions from instructors and accomplished drivers Mario Andretti, Robbie Buhl, Jeremy Dale, Terry Earwood, Bryan Herta, David Loring, Jim Pace, Dorsey Schroeder, Carroll Smith, Danny Sullivan, and Brian Till. It includes details such as how to pass, how to learn a track, and how to analyze a lap to find slow points. Indy 500 winner Sullivan explains how he learned the left-foot braking technique: "On ovals, most of the time, you drive the car down into the corner on power, then slow it down, then pick up the throttle for the exit. The car is already light down in the middle of the corner, so it's a delicate deal—I had to learn to use my left foot on the brake and, until you do it for a while, you find that you have a lot less feel with your left foot. It took a while to get good at it."
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9 Tune to Win (1979)
By Carroll Smith This book is the sequel to Carroll Smith's Prepare To Win, published in 1975, one of the first books to tackle racing car design. Smith was a race car engineer and worked with Carroll Shelby and Ford on the legendary GT40 LeMans racing program in the 1960s. He continued to work for racing teams, and then began racing vintage cars and writing books. Tune to Win is still lauded by race car designers today.
10 Think Fast (2010)
By Neil Roberts If you could tap the mind of a racer and engineer, you'd have a shortcut to learning all the different disciplines required to put together a well-rounded team from one point of view. Author Neil Roberts was an SCCA formula car road racer and an engineer for the Swift Indy car company. In addition to these accomplishments, in Think Fast Roberts translates engineer-speak to language the rest of us can relate to and apply to more of life's tasks than just racing a car.
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