published in 1961, Cars at Speed looks at
the early years of international
racing. In the introduction
to this new edition, Daley points out that the primary
dissimilarities between professional racing then and
now concern death and money. Risks were much greater
then, with rewards not nearly as great as now, and
this book provides an excellent history of the drivers,
cars and courses of that time. Many fans of modern
day racing who have become knowledgeable about the
last decade or two can’t even begin to realize
how horrifically deadly racing was back then. Drivers
were not the only ones at risk, as many spectators
were also killed. The first chapter recounts the 1957
Mille Miglia when Marquis Alfonso de Portago lost control
of his Ferrari and
was killed, along with his co-driver and eleven spectators.
unearths an interesting relationship between auto racing
in the early 1900’s and the early explorers.
After the dawn of the automotive age, races were run
on public roads from city to city and took days to
complete. The roads were barely more than improved
wagon trails and simply finding a known destination
was just as important as getting there with any speed.
Daley writes with great detail and imagery, introducing
the reader to the personas of the drivers, the problems or greatness of a particular
car and the challenges of a course. Some of those courses include Grand Prix
of past and present, as well as open road and sports car tracks. Illustrations
begin each chapter and course maps relating to specific races are included, but
the book could have been further enhanced with photography of that era. The writing
style and tone seem dated as well, but perhaps that’s the best way to read
about some of the most famous races and the legends who drove them.