Summer is upon us and is the time of year we hope to get some time off, even if it is an hour or two by the pool or at the beach. Hopefully you will be able to take a week or two off and really enjoy yourself.
Part of this tradition of summer is finding a good book or two to read while you are lathered in sunscreen and nursing a cold drink or two. The following are some you can pick from if you have the desire to mix your love for automobiles and other summer fun.
The Red Car by Don Stanford, was published in 1954. It certainly reflects those times as it follows the passions of a young driver and his efforts to rebuild and race an MG TC. If you are looking for some light reading that will return you to the times when the only true sports cars came from Europe, then this is one you will enjoy.
Another great book on the golden age of racing is by Robert Daley and is titled: Cars at Speed. The original book came out in 1961 and a new edition came out in 2007. When first published the European press disliked it very much, saying it dwelled too much on the tragic side of racing. The fact is it accurately reflects the times and the environment of racing in the fifties and what led up to it. These were the times when races were held on public roadways and were a mix of prototype and production cars. Drivers had no seat belts and helmets were a rarity. This book will absorb you with its history and narrative.
A. J. Baime published Go like Hell this year and it is a book you will definitely want to read. It takes over where Robert Daley’s book leaves off. Its focus is on the great contest between Henry Ford II and Enzo Ferrari that lead to one of the most exciting LeMans races of all time. You will gain insight into how Carol Shelby contributed to the effort as he built his own dynasty.
Inside Racing covers a season of an Indy car team back in 1998. Paul Haney writes about a year with a racing team from the inside. He spent the 1997 season at every race and took over 2500 photos while he was privy to conversations between drivers, engineers, and team members. Paul lived the life of a team member and has found a way to share the technical and human side of a racing season.
Do you want to become a better driver? Who doesn’t. Ross Bentley is the guy to go to if you want to discover and enhance the inner race car driver. He has published several books in a series he calls Speed Secrets that will provide you insights into the mind set and attitudes that affect your driving. Professional Race Driving Techniques explains the basics of getting the most out of a road course and your car as well as what are some of the little things that make a big difference. The Perfect Driver and (with Ronn Langford) Mental Strategies to Maximize Your Racing Potential go much further into areas that you never expected to make a difference. How to get both halves of your brain working together, how to regain and keep your focus, and much more.
Along that line is Going Faster, from the Skip Barber Racing School. There is a ton of information here and you will likely feel a bit of overload at first. It is definitely not a fast read. This will go in to areas of track driving that you might never knew existed. It will be a place where you will learn how very small changes can make a very big difference.
Tune to Win by Carroll Smith is totally focused on the race car. It’s subtitle is: The art and science of race car development and tuning. I don’t think most of us would read it cover to cover and I personally think the best way it to pick a section that interests you or has relevance to a car you are interested in modifying and read up. You can also flip through and find a section that has interest to you in any case. Carroll has his opinions and shares them with out reservation in these pages. There is a lot of information here and just about all of it valuable to track car enthusiasts.
Race Car Vehicle Dynamics is for those of you who want an engineering degree in race cars but can’t find a college that specializes in the subject. William F. Milliken and Douglas L. Milliken have put together this text which ends up being the most in-depth writing on track car engineering I have found. This is not light reading folks. It may even help you doze off to sleep, but if you really want to learn this kind of engineering, there is no better text.
So there you go. From some light reading to some very heavy stuff here are my suggestions for this summer. Try them out and let me know how I did. I’d like to know about your picks as well.