The 9 Best Books on Auto Racing


When one thinks of Auto Racing, what is the first thing that comes to mind? In the wide world of racing, that question could yield a different response from each person asked it.  You’ve got the widely popular and heavily televised Nascar, full of sponsored drivers and corporate logo-plastered cars. Autocross, which as we’ve already talked about extensively on this blog. About as many different types of Formulas as there are pie recipes in the world (Lite, 1, F2000, D, E, etc...etc.) There’s drag racing and kart racing and rally racing oh my!

Basically the term Auto Racing encompasses many subgenres that all come down to one thing: hopping in a car and doing cool stuff.

Despite the wide variety of racing, somehow most non-enthusiasts know very little about any or all types! To quote David Foster Wallace, “What I know about auto racing could be inscribed with a dry Magic Marker on the lip of a Coke bottle.”

To help educate the uneducated, we here at Waylens have compiled a summer reading list of 9 of the definitive best Auto Racing books to help you get familiarized with this interactive world.

For those who are interested in becoming an auto racer:

Going Faster! Mastering the Art of Race Driving

by Carl Lopez

This complete racer's reference is the perfect resource for all drivers from novice to expert. The fundamentals of fast driving are revealed in this definitive how-to book for racers. You will find the competition-proven methods of instructors and of professional drivers that will give you the know-how to work up the track and stay at the front.

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For History buffs:

Go Like Hell: Ford, Ferrari, and Their Battle for Speed and Glory at Le Mans

by AJ Baime

Baime tells the remarkable story of how Henry Ford II, with the help of a young visionary named Lee Iacocca and a former racing champion turned engineer named Carroll Shelby, concocted a scheme to reinvent the Ford company. They would enter the high-stakes world of European car racing, where an adventurous few threw safety and sanity to the wind. They would design, build, and race a car that could beat Ferrari at his own game, at the most prestigious and dangerous race in the world, the 24 Hours of LeMans.

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He Crashed Me So I Crashed Him Back: The True Story of the Year the King, Jaws, Earnhardt, and the Rest of NASCAR's Feudin', Fightin' Good Ol' Boys Put Stock Car Racing on the Map

by Mark Bechtel

It’s the story of an emerging sport trying to find its feet. It's the story of how Bobby Allison, Donnie Allison, Cale Yarborough, Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Darrell Waltrip, A.J. Foyt, and Kyle Petty came together in an unforgettable season that featured the first nationally televised NASCAR races. There were rivalries--even the sibling kind--and plenty of fistfights, feuds, and frenzied finishes. Rollicking and full of larger-than-life characters, HE CRASHED ME SO I CRASHED HIM BACK is the remarkable tale of the birth of modern stock-car racing.

HeCrashedMe

For the youngin’s:

THE LITTLE RED RACING CAR

by Dwight Knowlton

The award winning story of a 1955 Maserati once racing great races, then left to decay in an old barn. It’s a story of a boy finding a car, restoring it with his dad, and an amazing discovery along the way. This book is full to the brim with the best things in life: Family, History, Racing Cars, Hard Work… and a Dream Realized.

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For those who like a little drama:

Life At The Limit: Triumph and Tragedy in Formula One

by Sid Watkins

Grand Prix racing has undergone sweeping changes in the last thirty years. Many of these involve safety and medical rescue. The man behind them - a champion in the racing world although he has never won a race - is the eminent neurosurgeon Sid Watkins.

Life at the Limit is his remarkable story. It spans the most exciting years in Grand Prix racing and includes intimate portraits of motorsport's greatest names, from Jackie Stewart and Niki Lauda to Alain Prost and Damon Hill. Sid Watkins has also witnessed, at first hand, some of the most severe and spectacular racing accidents. His account of these is made all the more poignant by the fact that some of the men he has rescued, sometimes at the point of death, have been personal friends. From Monza, in 1978, where Ronnie Petersen suffered a fatal accident, to Imola in May 1994 where Ayrton Senna met his untimely death, the high, and low, points of Grand Prix racing are vividly described.

LifeAtTheLimit

Where the Writer Meets the Road: A Collection of Articles, Broadcast Intros and Profiles

by Sam Posey

Posey retired from driving in 1982, but in the years since then his public profile has grown through his articles for Road & Track, Sports Illustrated, and other publications, as well as his work as a television commentator. In Where the Writer Meets the Road, Posey has selected the best of his work in both fields. The result is a remarkably varied mix of short and long pieces on subjects ranging from racing in the rain at Le Mans to test-driving the propeller-driven Wind Wagon created by his uncle Teddy in the 1920s. There are also examples of the shorter broadcast introductions he produced for Formula One grands prix at Spa and Monaco, and even non-automotive events like the Iditarod sled race.

WheretheWritemeetstheRoad

For those looking for something a little sad and a little different:

The Art of Racing in the Rain

by Garth Stein

A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a beautifully crafted and captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human life...as only a dog could tell it.

Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver.

Through Denny, Enzo has gained tremendous insight into the human condition, and he sees that life, like racing, isn't simply about going fast. On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through.

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For the Nascar Fans:

Driver #8

By Dale Earnhardt Jr

Powered by a high-octane mix of bravado and humility, Dale Jr. shares the victory and joy, tragedy and heartbreak in his first Winston Cup season. Here are the crowds, the endless travel, and the behind-the-scenes action while Dale Jr. tries to carve out his own identity and win the respect of his peers. He shows you how races are won or lost, the bonds between a driver and his team-and the weight of racing against a man who is not only your father but also your boss, your toughest competitor, and a NASCAR legend. From the crush of the media to split-second, life-and-death decisions behind the wheel, Driver #8 is one helluva ride.

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For the fans of Top Gear:

The Man in the White Suit: The Stig, Le Mans, The Fast Lane and Me

by Ben Collins

When the Black Stig disappeared off the end of an aircraft carrier in 2003, we were introduced to The White Stig. Faster. Stranger. Harder to keep clean. And ever since, millions have wondered – who is The Man in the White Suit? They're about to find out.

He tells all about life inside the iconic white helmet. What it's like to guide a blind ex-RAF officer around the Top Gear track; pit a drug dealer's Mitsubishi Evo against a Trojan tank; set a Vauxhall Monara against Chloe the dancing Ninja; and race double-decker Routemasters against bendy buses. Not to mention all the inside stuff on how the show's amazing driving sequences are made.

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There you have it. This should keep your hunger for knowledge sated for at least a little while!