Our Favorite Books About Cars, Racing, and the Automotive Hobby

Whether it's a technical handbook on how to improve your racing line or a creative examination of the hobby we love, these are our favorite automotive reading materials.

Whether you're looking for technical instruction, historical documentation, or just a really compelling car story, these are the required texts of the automotive hobby.

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Side Glances, Vol. 1, by Peter Egan


Any automotive reading list must contain R&T's Peter Egan. His monthly Side Glances column was insightful, inspiring, and often hilarious. Anyone who's taken a disastrous road trip, restored a cantankerous old basketcase, or simply admired the beauty of a well-designed automobile will find something to relate to. Volume One covers Egan's columns from 1983 to 1992.

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Side Glances, Vol. 2, by Peter Egan


Volume Two of the Side Glances series covers Egan's columns from 1992 to 1997, including some of his most hilarious material. Like "Ace Mechanic, Car Detective," or the deeply relatable "How to Tell When It's the End of the Racing Season."

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Side Glances, Vol. 3, by Peter Egan


Volume 3 of the series includes Egan's columns from 1998 to 2002, and also offers some of Egan's most noteworthy feature-length R&T articles: "By the Time We Got to Woodstock," from the November, 1998 issue, and "Rectified Spirits," published in September, 2000.

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Peter Egan: Side Glances


Puzzlingly, the fourth and final volume of hardbound Egan columns is titled simply "Side Glances." But this book covers the most recent of Egan's R&T columns, spanning from 2002 to 2006. It also includes Egan's April Fools road test of a Zamboni from 2005, and the delightful road trip story "A Jaguar in Moose Country," where Peter and wife Barb drove his recently-restored Jaguar E-Type as far north into Canada as the road would take them.

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Speed Secrets, by Ross Bentley


Perhaps the most trusted driving technique handbook ever published, Speed Secrets is the first of master instructor Ross Bentley's series on how to improve your driving. More than just a handbook on where to brake and how to turn, it's a guide for preparing yourself mentally, physically, and financially for the world of racing, either as a hobby or a career.

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The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein


Stick with me on this one. This is a fiction novel, told from the point of view of a dog named Enzo. Sounds crazy, but it works. Enzo witnesses his owner's journey through love, heartbreak, fear, and redemption. You don't have to love cars to love this story—but it's chock full of details to make a gearhead grin.

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Peter Veldman: Dutch Immigrant, American Entrepreneur, by Andrea Midgett

This is the fascinating story of Tire Rack founder Peter Veldman, who came to the US shortly after WWII, fought in the Korean War, and worked lots of jobs before becoming a tire giant.

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Erich Strenger and Porsche: A Graphical Report, by Mats Kubiak

This is one of the coolest automotive books to come out this year. It's a beautifully put together look at the life and work of Erich Strenger, Porsche's in-house graphic designer and photographer from the early 1950s to the late 1980s. There's tons of full-color posters and Christophorus covers reprinted here that Porsche geeks will love.

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Sports Car and Competition Driving, by Paul Frère


Road & Track's longtime European Editor Paul Frère wrote one of the definitive books on how to drive fast. This, along with Ross Bentley's Speed Secrets, is essential for anyone looking to get into racing, or just trying to be faster and safer at their local track days.

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Winning Is Not Enough, by Jackie Stewart

Tons of racers have written autobiographies, but few are totally essential, like Jackie Stewart's. Besides being a triple world champ, Stewart has been a longtime advocate for increasing safety in motorsports, so his perspective is enlightening.

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The Unfair Advantage, by Mark Donohue

In his far-too-brief career Mark Donohuse was The Man in US motorsports. He won the Indy 500 and totally dominated both Can-Am and Trans-Am driving for Roger Penske. He was also a brilliant engineer whoo knew how to get he most out of a car, so his insight is fascinating.

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