The six best motorsport books

14th January 2021
Ben Miles

We’re all stuck at home at the moment, and in a world bombarded with working from home, screen time through the roof and a struggle for anything to do that doesn’t involve a smartphone, there is no better time to get into a book. And here at GRR we believe that book should, of course, be about motorsport. There are some fine books on the subject out there, so many it’s a minefield to try and work out what to buy and what to scroll past. So we’ve put together a handy buying guide to just a few of our favourites for 2021.


A Race with Love and Death – Richard Williams

Richard Seaman’s is one of the great lost motorsport tales. A British driver at the top of his game in the days before Formula 1 even existed, he was one of the greatest pre-war sportsman produced by Britain. But, as with many of the best stories, there was a problem. Seaman didn’t race for a plucky British manufacturer, he raced for Mercedes, with a swastika adorning his car. And then he saluted Hitler.

A Race with Love and Death is a gripping tale of this misunderstood driver, beginning with his background and going on to tell the heartbreaking tale of his confliction driving for Mercedes, the love of a German woman that underpinned his choices, despite being outcast by his country and his own family, and the true story behind that salute. Long-time sports writer and biographer Williams manages to make both the story and the conflicted emotions felt by Seaman to life.


The Limit – Michael Cannell

The story of racing’s most dangerous age, told from the perspectives of those who took part in it. The Limit begins with the build-up to a thrilling race at Monza from the perspectives of German aristocrat racer Wolfgang von Trips and American son-of-a-wealthy-postmaster Phil Hill, and goes on to tell the stories behind what drove these men and fears they felt in an age when death stalked their every turn.

Subtitled “Life and death in Formula 1’s most dangerous era” The Limit weaves the compelling, shocking and tragic stories of these brave men into an interlinking tale of the romance and fear of motorsport. It manages to both humanise and lionise its characters, showing that they were both brave and ordinary – at one point describing how Hill, who would become the only American-born F1 champion, struggled to accept his talent or the potential consequences, finding himself under the care of doctors for ulcers brought on by anxiety.


Go Like Hell – A.J. Baime

Possibly the best motorsport book I have ever read, this is the book that inspired the film Le Mans ’66 (Ford v Ferrari in America). It tells the story of the legendary battle between two worlds, the upcoming American might of ultra-modern Detroit against the old-world dusty workshops of Italy, for glory in the most important race in the world.

Taking a more fiction-inspired tone, Baime brings the incredible characters inside this story to life, from the larger-than-life figures of Enzo Ferrari and Henry Ford II that stand astride the whole event, to the protagonists inside, battling to get the Ford programme finished – the two stars of the film Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles. The book also goes beyond where the film that followed managed to tread, delving further inside the Ferrari side of the garage to understand what went on from the Italian perspective. Perhaps a highlight is the portrayal of John Surtees, fearless in the face of both danger and growing hostility inside the frustrated Ferrari camp.


Twenty Glorious Years

Well, we had to include one of our own magnificent tomes right? Twenty Glorious Years tells, in magnificent detail, the story of the first two decades of the event that brought the Goodwood Motor Circuit back to life.

This 250-page hardback, brought to life by various minds behind Goodwood’s now iconic events, tells the story not only of the Revival as an event, but also the years that went before it; not only the glory of Goodwood’s in-period heyday, but also the wilderness years and the efforts that went into bringing a dormant circuit back to life.


How to Build a Car – Adrian Newey

Part autobiography, part guide to life as an engineer, this book by the legendary aerodynamicist Adrian Newey is absolutely crucial reading for any fan of Formula 1 over the last three decades. While largely stepped away from the sport, Newey’s shadow still looms large over F1, heading up much of Red Bull’s design efforts despite stepping away from a full-time race-weekend role.

Newey has lived an extraordinary life in F1, inside almost all of the greatest teams to have raced since the 1980s, and has revelations to tell and tales to unravel. But, perhaps the most amazing thing about this book is how it manages to be both his autobiography and a textbook on what goes into the actual job of being a Formula 1 car designer. Very few autobiographies have managed to balance the needs to tell a personal story with a dive into the nitty gritty so well.


Stirling Moss: My Racing Life – Sir Stirling Moss and Simon Taylor

Sir Stirling Moss wrote many books over his time, but this was perhaps the most definitive of them all. Written in collaboration with legendary motorsport journalist Simon Taylor, in this Moss pours his full story onto the page, describing his racing life in great detail. The delight, as well as coming in the form of 300 photographs, many of which had never been published before, is in Stirling’s honest account of everything that happened to him, from the catastrophic to the hilarious.

If there is a downside to this book, it is perhaps that after his Goodwood crash in 1962 the tale goes quite cold, but as a recollection of the greatest racing years of Stirling’s life there is no finer book.

  • Stirling Moss

  • List

  • Ford

  • Ferrari

  • Le Mans

  • Richard Seaman

  • Motor Circuit

  • Adrian Newey

  • Formula 1

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