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Book Review - City of Speed:
Los Angeles and the Rise of American Racing

Fast Times in L.A.

by Joe Scalzo

City of Speed: Los Angeles and the Rise of American Racing

Reviewed by Chuck Arehart

Detroit may get credit for starting the domestic auto industry, but author Joe Scalzo doesn't want anyone to forget the influence Los Angeles has on the U.S. racing world. When race cars evolved from the first horseless carriages, the Indianapolis 500 became the yardstick. Even if a manufacturer didn't win a race, they learned what happened when an engine was abused for 500 miles.

In a somewhat disjointed writing style, Scalzo tells the tale of how Harry Miller engines dominated Indianapolis in the 1920s, and later morphed into the product of Fred Offenhauser, who worked for Miller. His "Offy" engines would go on to dominate Indy from the late 1940s well into the 1970s. There are many great stories to read, and that's essentially what this book is: a remembrance of drivers, engine and chassis builders, team owners and even fabricators, all either founded or based in the L.A. area. All of the greats who raced on ovals, road courses and even the Bonneville Salt Flats are mentioned, along with stories you may not have ever heard about them.

Scalzo uses a lot of nicknames and odd subject references throughout the book, so it's an attentive read. Excellent photography is provided on nearly every page, with captions to supplement the text. City of Speed truly dives headfirst into the L.A. racing scene, meaning even the knowledgeable racing fan is sure to learn something new.

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(Updated: 12/12/11 NW)

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