The 20 Best Car Racing Books You’ll Ever Read

Looking for the best car racing books? I’ve got you covered.

The list below includes autobiographies, racing advice, legendary tales, risk-filled glamorous rivalry, and so much more. 

Let’s get right in! 

1. Beast by Jade Gurss

Beast by Jade Gurss | Car Racing Books

Twenty years on, the myths surrounding the Beast — one of the most astounding race engines built for the 1994 Indianapolis — persist.

At the time, it seemed out-of-this-world that such a massive engine could be built — in a relatively short timeframe as it was. In this book, Jade Gurss debunks the myths and reveals the well-kept secrets of the Beast.

In a roaring tale involving World War II fighter planes and supersonic jets, British race-engine experts, and Mercedes, Gurss uncovers the story that led up to the unforgettable 1994 Indy 500.

What’s in it for you: Drama, intrigue, suspense, laced with motivating lessons and a compelling narrative.

2. Driving with the Devil by Neal Thompson

Driving with the Devil by Neal Thompson

Secrets, deep and dark, lurk in NASCAR’s past. In Driving with the Devil, Neal Thompson, for the first time, reveals the true story behind NASCAR’s origins, painting a rich, intense portrait of the fascinating men who built the now multibillion-dollar cultural phenomenon.

This book is a never-before-seen look at the well-kept secrets behind NASCAR — that is, the historical connection between bootlegging and stock-car racing.

What’s in it for you: Passion, crime, excitement, and seemingly death-defying feats of the ferocious, early NASCAR days that has been hidden from the public.

3. Earnhardt Nation by Jay Busbee

Earnhardt Nation by Jay Busbee

Earnhardt Nation narrates the story of how a family from a humble background climbed to the highest levels of professional stock car racing, becoming fan-worshipped idols and legends in the game.

The Earnhardts built a car racing dynasty that made them rich and famous — a dynasty that nearly tore them apart.

In Earnhardt Nation, Jay Busbee reveals the struggles and triumphs of the men and women who started NASCAR, detailing everything from their professional and personal lives.

What’s in it for you: A riveting, colorful story about the NASCAR royal family’s struggle to maintain their legacy while dealing with almost insurmountable challenges.

4. Enduring Courage by John F. Ross

Enduring Courage by John F. Ross

Enduring Courage narrates the legendary tale of a man who defied insurmountable odds to become an American legend.

Born to poverty-stricken Swiss immigrants, Rickenbacker had to overcome the pain of his father’s death, a crushing handicap, and accusations of being a German spy, to transform himself into an American military maestro in World War I, later receiving a Medal of Honor for his efforts.

Rickenbacker was a skilled daredevil on the racetrack, an adept aerial dualist, a squadron commander, and the founder of Eastern Air Lines.

What’s in it for you: The electrifying true tale of Eddie Rickenbacker, America’s greatest flying icon.

5. Faster by Neal Bascomb

Faster by Neal Bascomb

At a time when Nazi Germany dominated the world with its racial nightmare and shoved it toward war, three improbable heroes — a Jewish driver banned from Europe’s elite teams because of his heritage, the owner of a floundering automaker company, and the fearless daughter of an American millionaire — joined forces to challenge Hitler’s dominion at the Grand Prix, the summit of motorsport.

Faster breathes new life into this exciting era and the sport that defined it, chronicling one of the most breathtaking, death-defying coups of all time — a symbolic trouncing of the Nazis during the world’s darkest moment.

What’s in it for you: A pulsating story of triumph by an unexpected team of wannabes over Hitler’s formidable Silver Arrows during the heyday of auto racing.

6. Ford GT by Preston Lerner

Ford GT by Preston Lerner

After Enzo Ferrari rejects a business purchase proposal from Ford Motor Company, Henry Ford II decides to seek out revenge on the racetracks, vowing to “whip [Ferrari’s] ass.”

Armed with seemingly inexhaustible resources, Ford builds the revolutionary Ford GT. With the best drivers, designers, engineers, and team managers, Ford GT utterly dominates the racing scene, indeed whipping Ferrari’s ass.

What’s in it for you: The personalities, the politics, the technical nuances of the breakaway V-8-powered race cars that obliterated the face of road racing.

7. Formula One by Maurice Hamilton

Formula One by Maurice Hamilton

Formula One has created some of the most iconic moments in sporting history, from the rivalries between Juan Manuel and Stirling Moss to the Champion clashes between Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna through to the celebrated tales of Monaco’s winding course and the colourful crowds of Monza.

Including over 300 photos from the 1950s to recent, this remarkable book is the greatest celebration of Formula One racing.

What’s in it for you: The heroic drivers who pushed their cars and themselves to the limit.

8. Go Like Hell by A. J. Baime

Go Like Hell by A. J. Baime

By the early 1960s, the Ford Company was desperately lagging behind in the automobile industry. A young, inexperienced Henry Ford II, who had just taken the reins of the company, knew something had to be done to change things — and quickly.

At the time, Enzo Ferrari, whose cars symbolized style and speed, lorded it over the European racing scene. Determined to beat Ferrari at his own game, Ford, together with Lee Iacocca and Carroll Shelby, create a scheme to revolutionise the Ford Company.

What’s in it for you: A portrait of the risk-filled, glamorous rivalry between the two biggest behemoths on the racing scene.

Guy Martin: My Autobiography by Guy Martin

In this thrilling autobiography, Guy Martin takes you inside his head as he stares at death in the face and endangers himself in the search for the next high.

You’ll discover what it feels like to cling to life at 170mph at the TT in 2010 and return to repeat the improbable feat.

You’ll be swept up in a steely sort of glory as he slogs away for a place on the podium, but you’ll also see him struggle with the other side of fame.

You’ll meet his friends, foes, family, teammates, bosses, and discover what drives him, where his strengths and weaknesses lie.

What’s in it for you: A never-before look into the life of Guy Martin, the International road-racing legend.

How Not to Be a Professional Driver by Jason Plato

In this hilarious autobiography, Jason exemplifies what you shouldn’t do if you want to become a professional racing car driver.

Although having won more races than Lewis Hamilton and Stirling Moss, Jason is a rule breaker who had to overcome death-threatening experiences, drunken exploits, and more.

Jason is wild and unpredictable, but that is how he became a racing legend.

What’s in it for you: An outrageous, entertaining guide on what not to do to become a professional racing driver.

11. How To Be An F1 Driver by Jenson Button

How To Be An F1 Driver by Jenson Button

Culling insights and practical tips and tricks from his 17 years as a Formula 1 driver, Jenson Button offers the rules – the real rules – for succeeding as an F1 driver. (Spoiler: It’s not only about learning how to drive a car fast).

He spills it all about the people, places, odd rituals, motor homes, media, cars, and, most importantly, the perks and disasters.

What’s in it for you: The inside secrets on what it takes to be an F1 driver.

12. In the Blink of an Eye by Michael Waltrip

In the Blink of an Eye by Michael Waltrip

Having lost 462 NASCAR Cup races, Michael Waltrip was desperate for a win in the 2001 Daytona 500, he and Dale Earnhardt Jr running one–two. Waltrip knew this race was different; he could feel it, in his guts, in the way his hands trembled on the steering wheel, seemingly anticipating his first, ever, big win.

Yet, as his car inched toward the finishing line, he could’ve never imagined that his victory would become tainted with a horrendous tragedy.

For the first time, Waltrip tells the full story of that fateful day in Daytona. He reveals how he dealt with the pain, guilt, grief, and how he found the strength to climb into a race car again.

What’s in it for you: An inspiring, powerful story about family, fulfilment, and redemption.

Jeff Gordon: His Dream, Drive, & Destiny by Joe Garner

The first official biography of Jeff Gordon, a legend and four-time racing champion, this book is the outcome of over a year of in-depth and extensive interviews of Garner himself, his family members, friends, competitors, and colleagues.

Gordon speaks honestly about his childhood, his much-talked-about divorce, and life after racing. He speaks of his meteoric rise through racing’s ranks and gives readers unprecedented access to his private life, successes, failures, ups and downs.

What’s in it for you: A classic American success story.

Jenson Button: Life to the Limit by Jenson Button

Jenson Button takes you behind the scenes into his personal life, childhood, struggles, doubts and hopes.

He introduces you to the people he’s met in his seventeen years in Formula One, some of whom he loved, others not so much. He shares his laughs, the battles he’s fought, some on the track with foe and friends like Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, and Fernando Alonso.

It’s the pressure he struggled with as he inched closer to his World Championship in 2009, the calm he felt every single time he settled into the cockpit, his dad who saved him many times – the one moment he felt let down by his dad – and the hole left in his life.

It’s his whole life not just as a racing driver but as a human being.

What’s in it for you: A riveting story that reveals the humanity behind the racing wheels.

15. Life At The Limit by Sid Watkins

Life At The Limit by Sid Watkins

In the last thirty years, the Grand Prix has seen sweeping changes to improve safety and medical rescue. One man has been the champion behind all these changes – Sid Watkins.

In Life at the Limit, he tells his remarkable story, which spans the most exhilarating years in Grand Prix racing and includes greats such as Jackie Stewart, Niki Lauda, Alain Prost, and Damon Hill.

Watkins has witnessed first-hand some of the most traumatic and spectacular racing accidents in Grand Prix history, such as the untimely deaths of Ronnie Peterson in 1978 and Ayrton Senna in 1994.

What’s in it for you: The behind-the-scenes story of the world’s most dangerous sport.

16. The Carroll Shelby Story by Carroll Shelby

The Carroll Shelby Story by Carroll Shelby

Caroll Shelby, a small-town Texas boy, changed the face of auto racing when he won the acclaimed Le Mans 24-hour endurance challenge.

More than just a genius behind the wheel, he was also a revolutionary designer of speed cars that dominated the racetracks. The Ford Cobra, his masterwork, was the ultimate rival of Europe’s formidable Ferrari, giving it a run for its money.

What’s in it for you: An electric dive into the life of a legend.

17. The Mechanic’s Tale by Steve Matchett

The Mechanic’s Tale by Steve Matchett

Formula One mechanic Steve Matchett takes you on a thrilling journey through his life, from his beginnings as a young apprentice in the pit lane to his time at BMW and Ferrari and subsequent success with Benetton.

He narrates close-up encounters with legends such as Alain Prost, Michael Schumacher, Ayrton Senna, and Nigel Mansell. More importantly, he chronicles his struggles and eventual success in the cutthroat world of Formula One.

What’s in it for you: A gripping look at life behind-the-scenes at Formula One.

18. The Mechanic by Marc Priestley

The Mechanic by Marc Priestley

In the electric world of Formula One, the spotlight is always on the megastar drivers. Yet, without the technical knowledge, tenacity, and utter devotion of a driver’s garage of mechanics, he can’t possibly dream of claiming a spot on the podium.

These are the hardworking folk behind every world champion, and any mistakes they make can have dire consequences.

Nevertheless, their world is not just about tweaking machinery and crunching hard data on high-tech computers. These boys know how to have a good time, whether it’s a party on a yacht in Monaco or a lush photoshoot in airplanes.

Their world is one that electrifies on and off the track.

What’s in it for you: Formula One like you’ve never seen it before.

19. Racing to the Finish by Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Racing to the Finish by Dale Earnhardt Jr.

It was a seemingly slight bump at Michigan International Speedway in 2016 that cut the day short for Dale Earnhardt Jr. Although it seemed at the time to be a minor crash, Earnhardt suffered from a concussion whose recovery was brutal and lengthy.

After retiring in 2017, Earnhardt feared the multiple concussions he’d suffered from throughout his career may threaten his ability to live a full and happy life.

For the first time, he shares private notes that he kept throughout his career, notes that chronicle his physical and emotional struggles on and off the track, and his determination to share his own story so others don’t have to suffer in silence.

What’s in it for you: A candid reflection about the silent struggles of Formula One drivers.

20. Watching the Wheels by Damon Hill

Watching the Wheels by Damon Hill

The son of a legendary race driver, Damon Hill had to be crowned Formula One World Champion in 1996 to step out of his father’s giant shadow.

For the first time, he reveals his journey to the top while competing with greats such as Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher.

He reveals what it felt like growing up as the son of one of the most famous racing drivers. He chronicles the highs and lows of his career, the intoxicating thrill of racing, the swirling grief of seeing your teammate die on the track.

What’s in it for you: A riveting autobiography of the last golden era of Formula One.

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