“Race to Win: How to become a Complete Champion Driver” (Derek Daly)

Everyone I’ve shown this book to has been quick to point out that Derek Daly was never a champion. Not in Formula 1 or CART, the two most senior categories he competed in between 1978 and 1989, before racing sports cars.

But does that disqualify him from writing a book on how to become a good racing driver?

I don’t think so, because he’s gotten an awful lot closer than many of us ever will have. And unfortunately I don’t think it’s likely Michael Schumacher is going to be picking up a pen any time soon.

Daly’s humble enough to admit what he got wrong and how he could have done better, and that’s good enough for me.

And he’s got a stack of good stories to tell.

“Race to Win” is part entertaining collection of anecdotes from the world of professional motor racing, part manual for aspiring racing drivers. And if I’m honest, I found myself greedily devouring the stories and tuning out during the pages on fitness and mental discipline.

But that’s because I was reading this for entertainment rather than instruction – I’ll have to pass this book on to Ben Evans who writes or this site and and is currently racing in Europe.

What I got out of it was some useful insights into why some drivers succeed and others failed. An excellent example is Michael Andretti, the Indy Car champion who failed to make an impact during his failed Formula 1 season in 1993.

His son Marco, now an Indy Car racer himself, recently claimed his father’s lack of success was down to the team conspiring against him. Daly argues rather more persuasively (and realistically) that while Andretti lacked nothing in talent, he did not have the total commitment necessary to succeed in Formula 1.

Daly has a patient and logical style although it proceeds slowly at times and he tends to lean heavily on other people’s words when I’m not sure he needs to.

I know a lot of readers of this site are interested chiefly in F1 and not many racing series outside of it – if that sounds like you, I probably wouldn’t recommend reading this book.

But if you have an interest in American racing as well as Formula 1 then you’ll find “Race to Win” an enjoyable read. And there’s plenty of food for thought for the aspiring racing driver too.

Motorbooks
2008
9780760331859

Buy this book: Race to Win: How to Become a Champion Race Car Driver

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