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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Ultimate Speed Secrets: The Complete Guide to High-Performance and Race Driving
Brand: Motorbooks amazon.com $22.84

Ross Bentley is the most prolific writer currently publishing guides for high-performance driving. He has titles specific to mental preparation, running a racing team, and even the specifics of autocross and karting. This book brings all of Bentley's best advice into a single volume. It's the perfect introduction to the art of high-performance driving. 

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The Art of Racing in the Rain: A Novel
Harper Paperbacks amazon.com $0.99

Not every automotive book has to be a how-to guide. This funny, insightful, and often heart wrenching novel examines the ups and downs of life from a completely unexpected point of view. Whether you're a bona fide gearhead or just someone who loves a good piece of fiction writing, you'll sink your teeth into this book.

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Jackie Stewart's Principles of Performance Driving

Another fine book on how to drive fast, this time from one of the most successful drivers of all time.

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Erich Strenger and Porsche: A Graphical Report
amazon.com $39.75

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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Ford GT: How Ford Silenced the Critics, Humbled Ferrari and Conquered Le Mans
amazon.com $42.94

It's a story that's almost too dramatic to be true. In the early 1960s, Ferrari made it known that their sports car company might be for sale. Ford prepared to make an offer, but Ferrari changed its mind. Furious, Henry Ford II set out to beat Ferrari at the greatest race on earth: The 24 Hours of Le Mans. R&T contributor Preston Lerner presents the definitive account of how Ford swept the podium at Le Mans, and changed sports car racing forever.

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Return to Glory: The Story of Ford’s Revival and Victory at the Toughest Race in the World
ATLANTIC amazon.com $17.68

As a companion to the history of Ford's 1966 Le Mans victory, why not check out Return to Glory, a behind-the-scenes retelling of how Ford celebrated the 50th anniversary of its first Le Mans win by introducing the all-new GT—and taking victory at Le Mans once again.

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Winning is Not Enough
imusti amazon.com $2.29

Sir Jackie Stewart has lived an incredible life. The three-time F1 World Champion is a sportsman, a role model, and a successful businessman, and his autobiography is a thrill-a-minute read for anyone who appreciates the guts it took to be a professional racer in the 1960s.

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And On That Bombshell: Inside the Madness and Genius of Top Gear
amazon.com $4.99

Richard Porter was Top Gear's script editor for all 22 seasons of the original trio—Clarkson, Hammond and May. So of course, Porter has stories—of gags, stunts and challenges gone horribly awry. If you think Top Gear was fun to watch, just wait til you see what it was like to work on the team that created it. 

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Side Glances, Volume 1: 1983-1992
Brand: Brooklands Books Ltd amazon.com $19.95

What automotive library would be complete without Road & Track and Cycle World alum Peter Egan? Side Glances, Volume 1 contains Egan's best monthly R&T columns from 1983 to 1992. 

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Side Glances, Volume 2: 1992-1997
amazon.com $19.95

Volume 2 contains every Egan R&T column from 1992 through 1997.

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Side Glances, Volume 3: 1998-2002
amazon.com $23.95

The final paperback Egan collection contains every R&T column from 1998-2002.

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Side Glances by Peter Egan (2002-2006 Road & Track Volume 4)
amazon.com $36.00

To complete your Egan collection, the fourth volume is a hardcover including every column from 2002-2006 and a number of Egan's feature articles and road trip stories. 

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Leanings: The Best of Peter Egan from Cycle World Magazine
Egan, Peter amazon.com $16.22

To complement your Side Glances collection, don't forget about Leanings, Egan's column at Cycle World. Volume 1 covers Egan's 1977 debut at the magazine all the way up to the mid-1990s, including 21 road trip and feature stories and 27 columns.

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Leanings 2
amazon.com $44.55

Leanings 2 has even more features, road trips, and monthly columns from Egan's days at Cycle World. 

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Leanings 3: On the Road and in the Garage with Cycle World's Peter Egan
amazon.com $23.23

Complete your collection with Leanings 3, rounding out the final years of Egan's contributions to Cycle World. 

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Sports Car and Competition Driving New Edition by Paul Frere published by Brooklands Books Ltd (2001)
amazon.com $25.44

Another R&T alum, Paul Frère was a 24 Hours of Le Mans winner and Formula 1 competitor. In addition to his journalism career, Frère helped bring about the notion that racing was a skill that could be analyzed, evaluated and taught. This book helped kick off the modern era of driving instruction, and paved the way for any driver's reference book you might utilize today. 

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My Life Full of Cars: Behind the Wheel With the World's Top Motoring Journalist
Brand: Haynes Publishing amazon.com $60.00

If you like Frère's instructions on how to drive a race car, you'll love his autobiography. From a career as a professional racer to his days as a factory test driver and his tenure as one of the world's most respected automotive journalists, he lived a life most of us can only dream of.

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Citroen DS: The World's Most Beautiful Car
Brand: Haynes Publishing amazon.com $99.99

The Citroen DS is emblematic of the French car industry: If the conventional automakers did things one way, Citroen did the opposite. Filled with gorgeous photos covering 20- years of DS development, this book gives an up-close look at France's most iconic luxury car. 

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