Getting in a car and driving around a track is easy. Getting into a car and driving around the track quickly takes a lot of training and practice. There is a lot you can do by just going out and getting seat time, but there is also a lot of mental preperation involved in racing as well. For instance, knowing the track and being able to visualize it, knowing the ins and outs of your car’s handling, and being mentally prepared to give it you all are just part of what is needed to drive quickly around the track. Speed Secrets by Ross Bentley is a guide and companion piece to the driver to help them focus on sections they might not understand or give an introduction to something they’ve never thought of.
The book is divided into four sections: the car, the track, the driver, and the finish line. Each section gives a layman’s accessible overview of the particular issues associated with it. The car focuses on driving the car and understanding theory with the car’s handling. Six chapters are spent discussing the cockpit, the suspension and tire setup, the dynamics when driving the car and driving the car to its limits. The next section, the track, discusses the ideal line, how to determine the ideal line, and how to handle different situations on the track such as passing and inclement weather. The driver chapters discuss the mindset needed to race, how to push the car to the limit and how to recognize what the limit of the car is, how to prepare and race: practicing, qualifying, the actual race, and finally how to prepare yourself physically and mentally. The final section The Finish Line is additional material that the author didn’t fit nicely into the three previous sections but is important to know. These include: the business of racing, the communication between pit crew and driver, and safety.
The book is a very easy read, clocking in at around 160 pages, but filled with tons of information that many may find as a refresher (if you’ve ever taking a class on racing) but it also works as a nice reference. Since the sections are laid out logically and the table of contents does it’s job very well jumping to a particular section or piece of information is very easy. As I read it, it brought up items I’d forgotten and made me think of more things I should pay attention to while driving on the track. The only minor issue I had with the book is the safety section is a little out of date since there is no discussion of HANS devices. Overall, however, the information presented in the book holds true no matter what level of racing you’re doing or want to be doing and it definitely makes a quick reference book that is easy to carry with you to the track.