Carroll Smith has served as a crew chief or race engineer for a whole
host of professional road racng teams in pretty much every series since the '60s.
He currently wrote a tech column for Race Tech magazine and was the head judge
for the Formula SAE competition held every year in Detroit.
Sadly, Carrol Smith passed on in the spring of 2003, but he left a legacy of some of the
best racing engineering books ever written.
Carroll has a no-bullshit, this-is-the-way-it-is writing style that's very easy to read.
This book is a no-nonsense description of what you need to do to become a successful
race car driver. More than just a driving manual, it's a complete
tutorial on developing a professional racing career.
If you are serious about racing, his is the first book you should own!
Heavily road-racing biased, but full of plenty of insight on how to go faster once the
basics have been learned. Start with the Watts book to learn the basics, then move to the
Barber book to pick up more advanced techniques.
Strictly speaking, this is more of a historical book than a driving how-to, but
it's full of so many insights and and words of wisdom on being a race driver that you must
read it. Mark Donahue invented the science of modern race car engineering, and was one of the
few great driver/engineers. An absolute classic.
This is a nifty little book. George wrote down his first draft, and then gave out copies to a
very unusual cast of characters (including former F1 driver Bertil Roos, and engineering legend
Carroll Smith) He then included their comments in the book. The end result is sort of like sitting
in a bar with all these racing masters while they talk shop. Educational, and a fun read!
Written in 1959 and since updated, this book covers not
only driving techniques, it discusses mental preparation, the effects of stress, and the "will to
win" required from a successful driver. Includes a Senna interview too. A classic.
A book that concentrates on the mental aspects of the game,
an under-reported subject if there ever was one. Techniques for tuning the part that lives between
your ears. Not bad, but inferior to the Ross Bentley book.
Contrary to popular belief, there is no such animal as a "ready to race" race car. Even a
brand-new Formula Ford, straight from the factory, will require many hours of careful preparation
before it can turn a wheel in anger. This book is all about the steps required to make sure your
race car is ready for track time.
This was Carroll's first book, so some of the information is a little on the dated side -
racing technology has come a long way since the 70's. But even so, 90% of the information in
this book is still entirely applicable to modern cars. Solid advice is not subject to fashion.
The next book in Carroll's "to Win" series. Now that, thanks to Prepare to Win your
race car is surviving races and isn't falling apart, now it's time to learn how to make it go
faster. This book covers tire theory, suspension kinematics, vehicle dynamics, and various
techniques for sorting out the handling of a race car.
The third book in the "to Win" series, this book is about how to properly design your own parts,
and how to identify flaws in the parts the car came with. Covers metallurgy, fatigue, stress, and
the various ways to fasten things together.
This is the definitive reference textbook on vehicle dynamics. Not for the beginner!
More calculus and other math than you can shake a stick at, and somewhat disorganized, but
this book contains every racing/handling concept, formula, and model yet published. If you don't
own this book, then you're not serious about your engineering.
Finally, a book on the care, feeding, and tuning of shocks! The focus is primarily on
passenger car issues, with a small sidebar on racing. If you're going to get into your own
shock work you'll need this book, as it
is heavy on the theoretical underpinnings, but if you're looking for a by-the-numbers manual
on how to tune shocks for racing, this isn't it.
Another general "handling" book, but Herb goes into quite a bit more detail on chassis
rigidity, and how to build rigid chassis, than the typical generalist. Good reading before you
build your roll cage, and especially good for tube-chassis classes like CP.
The classic "generalist" handling book. Slightly dated, but otherwise an exhaustive treatment
of handling and how to improve it, mostly from a modification of an existing car standpoint. A
good first book.
The absolute bible on interpreting racecar data acquisition. If you are at all serious about
racing, a data acquisition system of some sort is an absolute must, and Buddy's book is
the manual on how to interpret that data once you have it. If you're planning on buying a data
system, buy this book first. If you wonder why you should buy a data system, get this book and
you'll be amazed.
A study on the strange goings-on inside your intake manifold and headers, and how to design
these parts to make maximum power. Slightly dated, but the physics is still good. A must for the
A good primer on the theory of modern electronic fuel injection, and how to modify it for
increased performance. Helpful for those considering a stand-alone EFI computer or forced to
wrestle with an OEM one. If you're still playing with carbs and distributors, buy this book and
see what you're missing.
A more recent book on turbocharging than the MacInnes book, this book has lots of
good information about turbocharging a car. Not as exhaustive as Turbochargers but has
some newer information, and a discussion of the steps needed to turbo a non-turbo car.
Should probably have been called "Engine Management for Beginners" as it's a
little lightweight for such a heavy subject. Even so, it's the first book I've found that
discusses tuning strategies (instead of just theory) and it comes with some software to play with.
A good first book for potential AEM EMS customers - if you can't understand this book, then stick
to the stock ECU
Produced in a handy toolbox-sized format, this book is the essential
reference for all machining operations. Properties of metals and alloys, feed rates and depths
of cut for milling/lathing, specifications on threads, classes of fits, unit conversions - you
name it. As soon as you start designing your own parts (and especially if you sub-contract the
work to a machine shop) this book will quickly become invaluable.
If you're going to do any engineering, then you're going to need a spreadsheet, and Open Office has an Exel-compatible
spreadsheet that not only works on Windows and Linux, but is also 100% Free Software - and you get an entire office
suite as a bonus. A great package, and you can't beat free!
Racing by the Numbers is a suite of programs designed to help model race cars. In particular, the suspension
geometry program WinGeo is the only thing I've found that can model the crazy double-ball-joint suspension found
on Talons and many Audis. Will run on Linux (more or less) under WINE. The author, Bill Mitchell, is very willing to
listen to user feedback and has actually incorporated some of my suggestions into his product - support is excellent, and
the price, while a little steep, isn't exhorbitant.
Once you start designing your own parts, you're going to need to start producing drawings. Machine shops - no matter how
many times you describe the job to them in person - tend to follow the drawing and only the drawing, and that means
the typical napkin sketch just ain't gonna cut it.
That means using a CAD program, and VariCAD is an excellent choice. It costs way, way less than AutoCAD, is
mostly command-compatible with AutoCAD runs natively on Linux, does solid modeling, and has a nifty update policy.