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Automotive Literature

Car Books You Should Read!

Part 2

By Jeff Zurschmeide

If purple prose and unlikely events aren’t your thing, consider the real-world racing accounts such as Sunday Driver by Brock Yates and Fast Guys, Rich Guys, and Idiots by Sam Moses. These books, like others before them, describe the real world of auto racing by great writers who actually went and participated. Other classic examples include All But My Life by Stirling Moss and the story of legendary American rally driver John Buffum, In Like a Lamb, Out Like a Lion by Tom Grimshaw.

There are car novels worthy of your reading dollar that take a lighter tone. Among the classics in this genre are The Red Red Roadster by Gene Olson and Press On Regardless, by Anne Taylor and Fern Mosk. In both of these, hilarity and romance ensues when young women abandon conventional roles and become sports car enthusiasts. How cool is that?

The all-time classic Stand On It, A Novel by Stroker Ace was really written by William Neely, but chronicles the adventures of a witty and lucky race car driver through the NASCAR and Indy Car world of the 1960s. This book had the rare honor of being made into a movie starring Burt Reynolds, Loni Anderson and Jim Nabors. But be warned, the campy movie has absolutely nothing in common with the book except the name of the title character.

The best of the automotive novels, however, belong to a modern author - Burt Levy has self-published a series of novels in which a young man makes his way through the sports car world of the 1950s. By interspersing real-world events and personalities with his fictional characters, Levy weaves an enchanting tale that has so far sold over one million dollars worth of books. The story of Buddy Palumbo’s automotive odyssey begins with The Last Open Roadand continues through Montezuma’s Ferrari, The Fabulous Trashwagon, and Toly’s Ghost.

Finally, consider other non-fiction books that enhance your automotive experience such as Searching for 66 - a documentary book that describes the sights and points of interest along the entire length of Route 66 - invaluable if you’re planning a long road trip on any portion of America’s Mother Road. Or how about Car Crazy - The Official Motor City High Octane, Turbocharged, Chrome-Plated, Back Road Book of Car Culture by Dean Dauphinais and Peter Gareffa. This book is chock-full of almost 400 pages of domestic automotive trivia, stories, anecdotes, and useful reference materials.

The number of books on the life and industry of figures such as Henry Ford, Louis Chevrolet, Preston Tucker, and others is simply beyond recounting. Similarly, every marque from Audi to Ford to Studebaker to Duesenberg/Auburn/Cord has at least one book covering its history. Knowing the history and trivia of your preferred brand is sure to enhance your reputation in your local scene.

Or if you just can’t get enough of your very own car, consider picking up a book like How to Photograph Cars by James Mann. In this work, Mann lays out techniques for taking the very best photographs of cars. With the hints he provides, even an amateur with a basic camera can get great results.

Each of the books named above is available for purchase through this website’s interface with Amazon.com. Most are priced well below $10 and make a great addition to any enthusiast’s library - they also make great gifts.

An anonymous procurement editor at a publishing house once told Burt Levy that “car people don’t read books.” He couldn’t have been more wrong, as Levy’s 7-figure sales have shown. Not only do we read, we treasure books about cars because they speak to us about our collective passion for our lives and the cars we love.

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Click on any item below for more details at Amazon.com

Brock Yates
Sunday Driver: The Writer Meets the Road--at 175 MPH
Da Capo Press, Paperback, 2004-08-24
For everyone who’s ever wanted to know what it’s really like to get behind the wheel of a racecar, automotive enthusiast Brock Yates lived the dream, and lived to tell about it. You’ll smell the fumes and feel the heat rising from the track as Brock takes the reader through a refresher course at Bob Bondurant’s high-performance driving school, then off to Watkins Glen, Michigan Motor Speedway, and across the country on an unsanctioned, hair-raising thirty-six-hour race from New York to Los Angeles.

Sam Moses
Fast Guys, Rich Guys, and Idiots: A Racing Odyssey on the Border of Obsession
Bison Books, Paperback, 2007-09-01
Sam Moses, a motorsports writer for Sports Illustrated, was assigned to go racing and write about what happened. Fast Guys, Rich Guys, and Idiots is a personal odyssey that peers over the cliff of change and into the pit of obsession. From small-time races to glittery grands prix, it lays bare the greed, lust, and desperation of every driver for time behind the wheel and a faster car. It explains the perfectionism behind taking a turn at the limit and describes the intoxicating thrill of stealing down the Daytona backstraight at nearly two hundred miles an hour.

Stoker Ace, William Neely, Bob Ottum
Stand on It
Aztex Corporation, Paperback, 1989-08
Stand on It is the ribald, lunatic “autobiography” of one of the craziest, meanest race car drivers who ever lived -- Stroker Ace. Filled with the gritty authenticity and roaring excitement of the professional racing world, Stand on It is a hard, tough, funny novel that explodes with life as you follow Stroker Ace’s drinking, loving, brawling exploits in bedrooms and back rooms and on the track.

Burt Levy
The Last Open Road (The Last Open Road)
Think Fast Ink, Hardcover, 1998-05
By interspersing real-world events and personalities with his fictional characters, Levy weaves an enchanting tale that has so far sold over one million dollars worth of books. The story of Buddy Palumbo’s automotive odyssey begins with The Last Open Road and continues through Montezuma’s Ferrari, The Fabulous Trashwagon, and Toly’s Ghost.

Burt S. Levy
Montezuma’s Ferrari: And Other Adventures
Think Fast Ink, Hardcover, 1999-10

See the comment on this series, above.

Burt S. Levy
The Fabulous Trashwagon (Last Open Road)
Think Fast Ink, Hardcover, 2002-10

See the comment on this series, above.

B. S. Levy
Toly’s Ghost (Last Open Road)
Think Fast Ink, Hardcover, 2006-05

See the comment on this series, above.

James Mann
How to Photograph Cars
Motorbooks, Paperback, 2003-01-26

This is a great book if you want to take professional-quality photographs of your cars. Good photos are critical to judging in some shows and concourses, and can add to your enjoyment of your ride. This book has it all, with a special section on restoration photos.

Jason Siu, Josh Mackey
How to Digitally Photograph Cars (Performance How-to)
S-A Design, Paperback, 2009-05-15
How to Digitally Photograph Cars is a how-to book on digitally photographing a vehicle the professional way, with techniques and secrets from professional photographers. It features in-depth, post-processing procedures and teaches you how to achieve professional-quality photographs. This book includes tips on panning, car-to-car motion, shooting engine bays, using an automotive rig, controlling lighting, and more. It also offers extensive information on using Photoshop for post processing your automotive images.
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