AGAINST DEATH AND TIME: One Fatal Season in Racing's Glory Years

Brock Yates, Author . Thunder's Mouth $24.95 (244p) ISBN 978-1-56025-526-0

In this engaging history, racing journalist Yates narrates one of professional sports car racing's worst years, 1955. In a time before fairly rigorous safety standards for racing cars—roll bars were just coming into use, there were no seat belts but primitive safety harnesses—and no safety standards for racing tracks, race car drivers raced for the thrill of speed with a gritty competitive spirit unparalleled in today's sport. Yates, editor-at-large for Car and Driver magazine, chronicles the colorful cast of characters who filled the straightaways and hairpin turns of tracks from the Indy 500 to Le Mans by creating a fictional persona who interviews each of the racers, has an affair with a racetrack groupie, and who even drives fast with reckless abandon. For part of the book he follows the career of Bill Vukovich, the "Mad Russian," whose tenacity and determination led him to two straight Indy wins before his fiery death there in 1955. Vukovich's death begins a season of carnage at tracks around the world, including the deaths of over 100 spectators at Le Mans when several cars crashed, throwing steel and tire debris into the crowd. As a result of the 1955 season, the racing profession instituted more and more safety regulations for drivers, cars and tracks, so that today's races are pale imitations of the roaring, bone-throttling, and often deadly races of the 1950s. While some will object to Yates's strategy of using a fictional narrator to tell these stories, his own research doesn't falter, and race fans will be pleased with his exciting history of the sport's past. (July)

Reviewed on: 05/10/2004
Release date: 06/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 244 pages - 978-1-56025-770-7
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