Books

May 18, 2021

Motorsport in fiction is a fairly touchy subject. In my opinion, it should be written by somebody who knows what they’re talking about and above all else it needs to do two things: be exciting and be believable. There are so many examples of novels written about motorsports that genuinely disgrace the authenticity and energy of the sport, whilst there are authors listed here who have been very astute in creating something that not only indulges their own creativity and imagination, but gives the passionate motorsport fans around the world something to be proud of as a genuine exponent of their adoration in the literary world.

Most books in motorsport are confined to the non-fiction or autobiographical work, and whilst these are intoxicating reads in their own right the world of fictional prose is not necessarily renowned for motor-racing fictional masterpieces. Fortunately for me, it is something I have been collecting since 2000 and can speak with a reasonable level of wisdom on. As well as my love of motorsport movies with a fictional plot, novels too create an interesting eye-opener for the non-educated. A good read can describe to those who know nothing of the sport why they should be interested, and a bad one can further influence their negative view of it.

Here I have gathered together a list of the authors I believe are worth your consideration and why you should grab a copy of their best works, and I have split them into two sections – firstly the novelists who have created an incredible legacy or saga of several books and then secondly those who have dallied into the world of motorsport for a one-off novel.

TOBY VINTCENT

The most modern and publicised example of motorsport in fiction is Toby Vintcent’s current saga following former British marine Matt Straker and Maltese racing driver Remy Sabatino. The plot of both Driven and Crash are well constructed and soaked in motorsport terminology, the racing is realistic and very in tune with the modern era of Formula One and the development of the story doesn’t feel cheesy or overdone. You can believe it’s happening before your very eyes as if you’re watching it on the big screen, and the character development leaves you feeling convinced that Straker can become another Bond or Bourne. The storyline isn’t littered with sex scenes or a body count either which means that you’re not going to be taken for a phone thrill ride. It’s not whimsical and it’s certainly not glamourised. If you love motorsport, this is required reading. And we hear there’s more to come from the saga soon so when you’re next at Silverstone, pop into the shop and start your collection!

Driven and Crash are available at Amazon, Kindle and the Silverstone shop. You can follow Toby Vintcent on Twitter: @TobyVintcent

BOB JUDD

Since the late 1980s the inner circle of Formula One recognised Bob Judd as the “Dick Francis on wheels” with six brilliant novels following racing driver Forrest Evers. With deception, corruption and devilish deeds very much a part of the plot throughout the saga, this is beautifully over the top in places but still quite cool in a way that The Man From UNCLE managed to get away with and so does this. Murder, deception and sex play a prominent part in these books, so prepare to sweat under your collar more than once! Try not to get too confused here, but the novels have been renamed over time – originally the six books were called Formula One, Indy, Monza, Phoenix, Silverstone and Juice but they have also been known as Formula One, The Race, Burn, Curve, Spin and Juice – and now that Speaking Volumes have picked up publishing rights again there’s a chance these books will once again emerge as top titles as they really haven’t aged since their first appearance almost thirty years ago. And if Rizzoli and Isles and Bones can go from novels to TV, I’d like to think that these could do the same one day. All it will take is about 26 F1 cars from the 1980s to make a grid…..

Formula One and Indy are available through Speaking Volumes and via Kindle whilst Monza, Phoenix, Silverstone and Juice will need some tracking down!! There are copies available on Amazon though and we’re hoping that eventually the other four will also be available on Kindle.

MATTHEW REILLY

Combining Formula One with the imaginative world of Harry Potter, Matthew Reilly’s Hover Car Racer trilogy Crash Course, Full Throttle and Photo Finishpreviously released online in free instalments, has now become the single work Hover Car Racer with the concept being picked up by Disney who have bought the movie rights and are currently working on the script for a film entitled “Hovercar”. We sincerely hope this gets made as films like Big Hero 6 and Tomorrowland have recently proved that the Disney Studios flare for science-fiction of late proves that this saga following Jason Chaser and his autistic younger brother known simply as “The Bug” can be immortalised on the big screen in fantastic fashion. The story is cool and intelligent, with the similarities between the race school and Hogwarts enticing enough for both young reader and nerdy petrolhead (and yes, I do mean me here) and the racing scenes are actually quite realistic in nature, given that the technology doesn’t yet exist! It’s unlikely you’ll be disappointed with this offering and it’ll keep young race fans quiet on the long drive to Knockhill for the BTCC weekend!

Hover Car Racer is available through most good bookstores online such as Amazon, Kindle and iBooks, but the audiobook version of this is also available on Audible. We’re hoping that the Hovercar movie will be out in cinemas sooner rather than later too! Come on Disney, crack on!! On Twitter: @Matthew_Reilly

SIMON WOOD

Aidy Westlake is a talented Formula Ford racer with a determined streak when we first meet him in Did Not Finish, and what starts as a simple British club meeting turns into one of the most thrilling stories I have ever read. Mind you, that’s not surprising. Simon Wood has built an impressive reputation for capturing the essence of every world he explores, so when he got his hands on motorsport it’s brilliant to see his exceptional talents have spiced up the motorsport scene. And just when you thought it was a one off, his second book Hot Seat sees him thrust into the European Saloon Car Championship. With this saga, you get an incredible character who is very relatable to any racing driver currently competing in Great Britain, and a plot so invigorating you will literally lose hours of your day. His short story Tenths of a Second is also one of the very best of its kind I’ve ever read. I genuinely believe Simon couldn’t have done a better job with these books if he was given a race drive in a BRSCC championship for a year. His talents more than excel in the world of racing, and word on the grapevine is that a third is on the horizon…..

Did Not Finish, Hot Seat and Tenths of a Second are available on Amazon, Kindle and Audible so you can take them wherever you want either in print, on your Kindle or on your iPod and I can recommend the audiobook for journeys to race meetings as they put you in exactly the right zone for the weekend. Follow Simon on Twitter: @simonwoodwrites

DOUGLAS RUTHERFORD 

If you want to be bold and daring, start collecting Douglas Rutherford novels. It’s worth it and you’ll have an incredible collection of motorsport and automotive fiction on your shelves when you’re done. But it will be tough. Rutherford’s works of fiction in this world span roughly two decades and The Chequered Flag series will be more than enough to entice you into his universe. Race Against The Sun, The Gilt-Edged Cockpit, The Gunshot Grand Prix, A Shriek of Tyres, Clear The Fast Lane, Killer On The Track, Rally To The Death, Turbo, Kick Start and many more have established Douglas Rutherford as the original motoring novelist and whether it’s Grand Prix racing at Silverstone or a race across Europe in an AC Cobra, Rutherford’s writing puts you in the passenger seat beside him. It’s exciting, enthralling and at times pure spine-chilling, so take my advice and let your true petrol headed mind run riot with a Rutherford masterpiece.

You can find a full list of Douglas Rutherford titles – both fiction and non-fiction – on his Amazon page but good luck finding them all, it could take a while!

DAKOTA FRANKLIN

Having been born into a motoring and engineering family and even been a powerboat racer in the past, Franklin has been enjoying brilliant success with her Ruthless To Win series of which there are now nine titles – Troubleshooter, Le Mans, Racing Justice, Requiem at Monza, American Racer, NASCAR First, Queen of Indy, God’s Scofflaws and Triple Threat Thrill. The knowledge drawn from Dakota’s past working for Ford, Holden and Rolls-Royce shines through and it’s clear that she enjoys her passion through her writing where she genuinely seems to have nailed her true calling. With each of these stories comes a slightly different setting and with each title you find yourself hitting the motorsport reset button, but by the end of the first chapter you’re already swept up in a new and exciting race setting. If you’ve ever found yourself imagining yourself as a racing driver when you’re playing a video game (yeah I have, get over it) it’s incredible how Dakota is able with each new novel to create a world you’re dying to be involved with. You want the heroes to triumph and you’re willing each lap of each race on as you read. The energy is high and the sport is true to itself. Definitely worth clearing some space on your iPad for these.

All nine books in the Ruthless To Win series are available on iBooks and Kobo and also online at Cool Main Press but I warn you now, once you start will become addicted if you’re not careful! Give Dakota a follow on Twitter: @thrillsdakota

DOUG SOLTER

These works are definitely for a teenage audience as is clear from the outset, but I particularly admire the work that Doug has put in with these three books – Skid, Rivals and Legend – as it would be very easy when scouting a teenage market to be soppy and tacky. I truly believe Doug has created a world that is true to the sport of Grand Prix racing, made it cool and exciting but has not patronised his readership into thinking they are not worthy of the real thing. His narrative is very unique too as you read from the viewpoints of both racing driver Samantha Sutton and race mechanic Manny throughout the novels, and you explore the emotions and histories of these two very different personalities during their journeys along the motorsport season. They are very different in nature and not necessarily likeable depending on your own personality, which I find fascinating to read. Youngsters should enjoy this as it opens the door to the high pressure world of the sport’s pinnacle in a language and manner that is neither pretentious or complex, and as I’m young at heart I enjoyed these novels too as it’s a very different approach to something that has been tried before, but its rare and uncommon approach makes it stand out in an impressive manner.

Skid, RivalsLegends and Champions are all available on Kindle and Amazon and are an excellent starting point for teenage motorsports fans. Doug Solter is on Twitter: @DougSolter

TAMMY KAEHLER

We are very much in admiration of the work of Tammy Kaehler. She is different from other authors in that she came from a background that had nothing to do with racing at all and challenged herself to discover what motorsport is all about in order to create her novels. Having no prior knowledge of the sport going in, the fact that the Kate Reilly Mysteries are as compelling and astonishing as they are shows the mettle and ability of Kaehler as a writer. Her four examples thus far – Dead Man’s Switch, Braking Points, Avoidable Contact and Red Flags – show an incredible insight from an entirely fresh perspective. She attended the Panoz Racing School to gain more knowledge and to understand her characters with more clarity, and her determination and scope to push her own boundaries further with her work is quite inspiring. It’s worth mentioning as well that her character Kate Reilly, unlike other racing drivers of the female persuasion that have emerged since the rise of Danica Patrick is not swimming in cliches or stereotypical melodrama. She is intuitive, insightful and strong but in no way is she a caricature of what other authors have considered to be a female racing driver, and actually comes across as a strong role model. Her latest title Kiss The Bricks is about to be released and is set around the Indy 500, so we can only assume there is more sensational motorsport prose where the previous four came from.

All of Kaehler’s works are available from Amazon, Kindle and Audible and Kiss The Bricks will be available on May 2nd, just in time for Indy 500 season. Follow Tammy Kaehler on Twitter: @tkaehler

BURT S. LEVY

One of the coolest writers in the automotive world, Levy has a particular style of his own which delves into the pure passion of driving and compels the reader to fall in love with the world of driving at a seminal level. His series is based around The Last Open Road – a novel that tells the story of a 19 year old mechanic who gets sucked into the world of American sports car racing in the 1950s – and several more sensational tales follow it such as The Fabulous Trashwagon, Montezuma’s Ferrariand Toly’s Ghost. We also highly recommend his two novels under the banner entitled The 200MPH Steamroller (Red Reign and The Italian Job). His writing is quite affectionate towards the art of driving and he gives great care and attention to the authenticity of the cars, circuits and people within his stories. These novels are not just great entertainment for Burt to have written; they are a pure labour of love. The stories told within will inspire even the hardest of hearts within motorsport and remind us all as to why we got hooked on racing in the first place, and also tell of a time long gone of a world where racing was more than just a business or even a sport: it was a love affair with speed and daring.

Each of his novels are available on Amazon, and we also think you’ll all enjoy his collection of short stories for bathroom reading petrolheads entitled A Potside Companion!!

SHEY STAHL

In the world of NASCAR, several novelists have tried to tack on the world of stock car racing’s premier category. For me, the most successful of those at capturing the pure essence of NASCAR is Shey Stahl who has given us racing driver Jameson Riley and his long-time partner Sway Reins who accompany each other through the trials and tribulations of the biggest show in American motorsport. The Racing on the Edgeseries currently has ten novels to read through – Happy Hour, Black Flag, Trading Paint, The Champion, The Legend, Hot Laps, The Rookie, Fast Time, Open Wheel and Pace Laps and with every page of every chapter of every novel you are compelled to pursue their relationship both on and off the track. It’s incredible well thought out as a concept and in the same way that the first few TV series of The Good Wife has you asking yourself what you would do and how you would behave in the same scenario, these novels offer the reader an opportunity to consider themselves in the same position. The racing is detailed but not overdone, and the characters with in are engaging and relatable so you consistently want to know what happens next.

All 10 books in the series can be found on Amazon and Kindle and if you buy in bulk you’ll get a really good deal for the set. Stahl is on Twitter: @dirtgirllover

KEN VOSE

Another brilliant exponent of the motorsport world is Ken Vose, creator of the Pete Hawthorn saga. Two novels thus far – Oversteer and Dead Pedal – have given us food for thought and his journey to Brazil to uncover the disappearance of his father and the Mille Miglia to reveal the secrets behind three deaths which could be related to the French Nazi resistance. Whilst politics are usually a snore fest for me, the manner in which Ken intertwines the world of corruption with the sport of motor-racing is quite masterful, and he makes a thrilling read out of two very interesting stories. He clearly enjoys motorsport as an observer and passionate enthusiast which comes through in his writing and the more you read the more you get sucked into his creative mind, and his charming flow from chapter to chapter is as entertaining as it is enthralling. The books read like many of his TV scripts and if somebody dares to translate it to television I am keen to see how it is received. I’m also delighted to hear that there is a third book on the way entitled Boost and his theme centred around the Bonneville Salt Flats should make for a fascinating read.

Oversteer and Dead Pedal are available on Amazon, Kobo, Kindle and iBooks.

SAMANTHA TOWLE

This author is not for kids so be warned. If Fifty Shades of Grey was set around the racing world, it’d be written by Samantha Towle. It’s dark, deceptive and incredible racy, both on and off the track, and her Revved series is sure to get your desires racing. For both Revved and Revived, Towle has focused on the glamour aspect of the world of Formula One and if Toby Vintcent focuses on the accuracy of Grand Prix as a sport, Towle has decided that the sex appeal of the sport will be what draws her audience in. With characters with shady pasts and clouded backgrounds and a world where money, power and greed takes centre stage, what you get with the Revvedbooks is a romantic thrill ride around racing cars with just a dash of E.L. James thrown in for excitement. Her influences come from music in many cases and via her website there is even a Spotify playlist that shows you how music moves through her stories which I have to say I’m a fan of. This isn’t everybody’s cup of tea and if you’re a pure petrolhead you might not appreciate these books, but anybody who is sucked in by the wealth and spectacle of Grand Prix racing with a desire for escapism might find just what you’re looking for in these rather superb and impressive works of fiction where romance is the primary theme and focus of this pair of works. And I don’t like soppy romances, so well done Samantha!

Revved and Revived available for digital download on Kindle and in print via Amazon. Samantha Towle can be found on Twitter: @samtowlewrites

 

ONE HIT WONDERS

There are several authors who have dipped their toes in the world of motorsport and come up with a brilliant novel alongside their other works, so it’s worth mentioning a few others to add to your bookshelf.

GARTH STEIN – THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN

This is the only novel at which I genuinely shed tears. Being told through the eyes of Enzo, faithful and loyal dog to racing driver Denny Swift, The Art of Racing in the Rain is an unexpected and truly unique story tugs on the heartstrings more than once and racing aficionados, sporting enthusiasts and bookworms alike will all be brought into the fascinating imagination of Garth Stein with mum of the power and sensation of the plot aligned with the frustrations and emotional strain of a dog unable to communicate with his master. For me, this does for Formula One fiction what Forrest Gump and Mr Holland’s Opus did for Hollywood: it puts you into an emotional scenario you’d never consider putting yourself in and you’d be surprised where that journey takes you. As a standalone novel it is one of the finest works of fiction I have ever read, and there is even a version for younger readers entitled Racing in the Rain: My Life as a Dog. You can follow Garth Stein on Twitter: @garthstein

SALLY ARMSTRONG – RACERS

It’s a little tacky, a little outrageous and yet somehow ridiculously likeable. Having bought this at a service station on a family holiday whilst in a bad mood at Dover, I fell head over heels for this novel and have fervently kept it in my collection ever since. The plot is a little predictable until about half way in, then the twist will have you intrigued until the last page which is pleasant and surprising as most books of its kind tend to die in its own dreamy dreary infantile prose. But Armstrong keeps you guessing throughout and I can see this succeeding as a Hollywood movie in ways that some of the other books in this list just wouldn’t manage. Again, not everyone will appreciate what Sally actually does with the plot, characters or development of the plot, but as a teenage racing fan it did a lot to broaden my horizons. There is the occasional hot steamy scene in this one too and it is a bit “adult” in places, so best to be prepared going in!

ALAN WILSON – ZAPPED

Wherever Alan Wilson has been hiding, it clearly has been worth the wait. Zapped came out of nowhere and doesn’t even centre around the drivers within the Grand Prix team it’s based around. Zak Radford is an engineer who specialises in software and computing and stumbles upon a conspiracy that takes cyber-cheating to a whole new extreme within the world of Formula One. His writing is exceptional, the concept is as original as it is well thought out and quite frankly this is the motorsport equivalent of a spy thriller along the lines of Sneakers, True Lies or Mission Impossible. I’m still in the middle of reading this one, and I genuinely can’t put it down!!! For all those that feel that in another life James Bond could easily have been a racing driver, Zapped will give readers the sense that Formula One is shrouded in intrigue, espionage and cunning which even though it’s not really makes the whole thing even more exciting.

JULIA WURZ – SUPEREGO

Again, Julia has decided that the best way to grab an audience is to go down a unique route. Following the career path of Kate Ellison, a new press officer at one of the top teams in Formula One, SuperEgo whisks an intriguing mixture of money, power and greed within the audacity and sheer brashness of an influential businessman on a slippery slope. Formula One has had some interesting scandals in and around it in recent years, and the plot of SuperEgo could not only be believable given the track record of certain personnel and various incidents from the past notwithstanding, the manner in which it is conveyed is expertly knitted together. Wherever each chapter takes you, you’re a willing passenger to one of the most absorbing and provocative motorsport tales you’re ever likely to read. I’m hoping there’s another one on the way from Julia at some point because as a first novel it is quite honestly a spectacular work.

 

 

HAVE YOU READ ANY GOOD MOTORSPORT FICTION? TELL US WHAT YOU THINK!!

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