Well, I’ve now finished off the Speed Secrets series with the exception of #7, which is about autocrossing. I’m still debating on purchasing it since I already have Secrets of Solo Racing which is supposedly one of the best books on the subject. Chances are I’ll eventually read the seventh, but not right now.
Speed Secrets 6: The Perfect Driver is a continuation of Inner Speed Secrets (Speed Secrets #3). It focuses on particular situations that occur when driving and how to use mental imagery to overcome the problem facing the driver. Each chapter has a small introduction and setup to the problem and then discusses how to think your way out of the problem. I think the setup of the book is nice you can jump to any section to see how the Speed Secrets people helped the driver out.
The topics are, of course, wide-ranging, but definitely within the realm of driving the car on the track. There are 21 chapters within the book and all but three deal with pure driving issues. The remaining three are about mental imagery and how to make use of your strengths and how to always stay positive and have fun out there. There are also two appendices, the first is a review of the exercises shown in Inner Speed Secrets and the second appendix is the list of all the speed secret phrases from each of the chapters within the book.
Speed Secrets 6 took me about three hours to read cover-to-cover (much like all the previous books in the series). It is well written and provides information in a concise and understandable manner, however, for me, I don’t think I got as much out of this book as I did from Inner Speed Secrets. Part of this could be that I’ve been through a racing school and they teach and describe a lot of these techniques so this book felt a lot like a refresher course than anything ground breaking. If you’ve never attended a driving school or have only been to a high speed driver education class a few times, you won’t harm yourself by picking up this book and reading it. However, I’d suggest getting Inner Speed Secrets, Speed Secrets, Going Faster! or one of the other basic driving books before jumping into this one because I think you’ll miss out in a lot of the situations that are being described within the covers.
You’ll notice I’ve skipped Speed Secrets 4: Engineering the Driver since it no longer seems to be in print and from what I can tell doesn’t relate to you as a driver. It is about everyone around the driver and how to make the driver better; so, one day I might find the book and read it, until then, I jumped forward to the 5th book in the series. This time the book is written by Ross Bentley and Bruce Cleland, but I think Bruce Cleland should get top billing since I’m not noticing any of Ross’s influence in the book other than the first two chapters.
This book focuses on everything external to the actual racing and driving of the car. For instance, it discusses what it takes to get to the top, what you need to know, an overview of the business, teams, marketing, sponsors, PR, and networking. In fact you could just rename the book ‘Marketing for Racers: 101’ and have a pretty good idea of what goes on in the book. The only two chapters that seem to be from Ross are the first two chapters which come from the second Speed Secrets book. After that it is all about the business of racing and what you need to do and know to be successful. The positives and negatives of different approaches are discussed and a lot of time is spent telling you the same thing over, over and over: use common sense, think, plan, be respectful, execute, repeat. No matter what you do. Of course, we all know common sense isn’t so common so I see why they hammer it home all the time.
Speed Secrets 5: The Complete Driver is not so much a book on how to race and how to be successful on the racetrack but how to handle yourself off the racetrack in order to be successful on the track. If you removed the racing aspect of the book it’d be a great book on how to be an entrepreneur since it does discuss items such as getting your foot in the door to potential sponsors (investors), giving your pitch, and how to correctly handle follow-ups to your pitch. It is a quick read, I finished reading it from cover-to-cover in a single sitting. If you’re clueless on how to network or present yourself it is definitely worth the purchase if you want to continue on the track to be a race car driver (or in life for that matter).
Speed Secrets 3: Inner Speed Secrets (actually the second book, but somehow renumbered to the 3rd book in the series) follows the same easy-to-read format as the previous books while focusing on the mental preparation and exercises to help you, as a driver, win the race and drive your car to its limit. As with the second book, Inner Speed Secrets delves deeper into a subject the first book (and second book) touch on give a few hints or tips and then continue.
The book is laid out in a straight-forward fashion and moves through the topics in a logical progression. It starts with an overview of why mental preparation is important in racing and how it can help you, as a driver, become much better. Then discussion of how the brain processes information and how we can increase focus, sensory perception and our own belief system (e.g. “I can’t win because of my car” to “I can win regardless of my car”). The last chapters focus on how to maximize and use all the strategies discussed in the book and how you can self-test yourself and see where you can improve and where you’re falling down. Of course, this requires that you are able to honestly assess yourself and your driving skills… which if you’ve been reading the books should be able to do.
Inner Speed Secrets, like the other two books I’ve read in the series so far is another book I’d highly recommend and I’d suggest this one over the previous two if you’ve been racing for a while (once I’ve read all the books I’ll see about ranking them in usefulness according to me). Perfect practice makes perfect and you can never have too much practice… especially when you can do many of the things away from the track and in your daily routine.
If you’re thinking there is a theme starting in these posts then you’re right; I’m reading all the Speed Secrets books one after the other and reviewing them as I await the return of my Porsche 911’s DME. The funny thing about this book is it is numbered two in the series but actually the third one written, the book Inner Speed Secrets is numbered three. Seems odd to me, but that’s life.
Speed Secrets 2 expands on some topics from Speed Secrets that were covered, but not nearly as in-depth as one would have liked. This book focuses on driving at the limit around corners and through each phase of the corner: the line, the entry, the mid-corner, and the exit. Other chapters discuss adapting to the car and issues around the driver, managing errors while driving, and visualizing success in each phase of the corner (and of course, the entire race). Much like the first Speed Secrets, this one is very easy to read through and soak in the information in only a few hours.
The book also discusses many exercises that can done while driving on the street that can help you while driving on the track. A few of the suggestions are: practicing left-footed braking while stopping a car, increasing your sensory input by attempting to take in more visual, audio and touch information while driving and determining the speed of your vehicle without looking at the speedometer and seeing how close you are to the actual speed.
Much like Speed Secrets, this book is filled with information that some seems like a refresher course and others make me go, aha, this is a better way to look at my problem. So for that reason, the book is definitely worth it. It is best to take all the advice and criticism you can and then go through it determining what is valid and what can be tossed aside and this book has a lot of good advice in my opinion.
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.