The best books to change the way you think about motorsport

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in a family obsessed with motorsport, but after seeing the movie Rush in 2013, I fell head over heels in love with Formula 1. After traveling around the world to see racing in far-flung countries, I forged a career writing about the intricacies of a high-speed sport packed with fascinating stories and scandals that date as far back as the very first vehicle. As a woman covering racing, I’ve been a bit of a rarity in the garages, which is why I’ve tried to emphasize the lesser-heard stories of women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ+ racing community.


I wrote...

Racing with Rich Energy: How a Rogue Sponsor Took Formula One for a Ride

By Elizabeth Blackstock, Alanis King,

Book cover of Racing with Rich Energy: How a Rogue Sponsor Took Formula One for a Ride

What is my book about?

Formula 1 has long maintained a glitzy aura that masks strange goings-on in the background. With the 2019 season came a force louder than Formula One could dream of muffling: William Storey, the founder of British energy drink startup Rich Energy. Storey became a multimillion-dollar sponsor of the Haas Formula 1 team a year after records showed Rich Energy having a mere $770. He equated his doubters to moon-landing truthers and publicly mocked both the Haas team and the entities winning legal disputes against him. But where were actual cans of Rich Energy? In the six months between Storey’s first race as a Formula 1 sponsor and his public exit, he stole the spotlight with a loud mouth and an active Twitter account. This book uncovers the complete, bizarre story.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of Janet Guthrie: A Life at Full Throttle

Elizabeth Blackstock Why did I love this book?

Janet Guthrie completely changed the name of the game for women in motorsport here in America.

She was the first woman to compete in iconic races like the Indianapolis 500, and circuits even had to change their rules to allow women into the garage area because of her.

With a physics degree and a pilot's license under her belt, Guthrie changed the name of the game for women in motorsport—but her career fell short thanks to the restrictive nature of the 1970s.

Her autobiography sheds light on the pain and heartache she felt alongside all of her successes.

By Janet Guthrie,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Janet Guthrie as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this beautifully written book, Guthrie tells her story from the beginning. Nearly two decades in the making, Lady and Gentlemen captures the poignant detail of the complexity of the racing business. On a deeper level, she conveys all that she encountered along the way as a woman in the most testosterone-charged of men's worlds.


Book cover of The Bugatti Queen: In Search of a Motor-Racing Legend

Elizabeth Blackstock Why did I love this book?

Hellé Nice had lived a full life before she ever sat behind the wheel.

A career as a model and dancer in Paris enabled her to live a life of luxury in the 1920s, but when she injured her knee skiing in 1929, she turned to a new career: Motor racing.

She went on to compete in races around Europe, setting world records behind the wheel of her bright blue Bugatti.

A freak accident nearly killed her in 1936, and the onset of World War II brought racing to an end. Nice's lush lifestyle saw her accused of being a Nazi collaborator, and records of her accomplishments were scrubbed from the racing world.

Miranda Seymour tracks down Nice's complex legacy and reports it in vivid fashion.

By Miranda Seymour,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Bugatti Queen as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE BUGATTI QUEEN is the beautifully illustrated story of an indomitable and fascinating woman, a pioneer of motorsport who revelled in danger. Born in 1900 in a tiny French village, Helene Delangle, aka Helle Nice, became a dancer and a stripper before catching the eye of Ettore Bugatti. Seduced by the combination of machines and speed, Helle Nice went on to have an unprecedented career, competing in numerous Grands Prix and becoming the only woman to drive on the treacherous American speedbowls in the 1930s. She set new land-speed records before a notorious accident which almost ended her racing days.…


Book cover of Faster: How a Jewish Driver, an American Heiress, and a Legendary Car Beat Hitler's Best

Elizabeth Blackstock Why did I love this book?

The setting is interwar Europe.

The players are René Dreyfus, a Jewish racing driver, and Lucy Schell, a racing driver and American heiress.

As antisemitism crept through the continent, Dreyfus' successful racing career was choked out by the might of state-funded German engineering—at least, until Schell came along.

With her ample fortune and a home in Paris, Schell began funding her own racing team and immediately signed Dreyfus. Later, when the pressures of Nazi ideology threatened Dreyfus' life, Schell funded a "trip" to the Indianapolis 500 in America in order to help him start a new life.

Faster highlights the complex ways that politics, religion, money, and motorsport intertwine, told so compellingly that you won't want to put this book down.

By Neal Bascomb,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Faster as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Motor Press Guild Best Book of the Year Award & Dean Batchelor Award for Excellence in Automotive Journalism

For fans of The Boys in the Boat and In the Garden of Beasts, a pulse-pounding tale of triumph by an improbable team of upstarts over Hitler’s fearsome Silver Arrows during the golden age of auto racing

As Nazi Germany launched its campaign of racial terror and pushed the world toward war, three unlikely heroes—a driver banned from the best European teams because of his Jewish heritage, the owner of a faltering automaker company, and the adventurous daughter of…


Book cover of The Brown Bullet: Rajo Jack's Drive to Integrate Auto Racing

Elizabeth Blackstock Why did I love this book?

Back when AAA sanctioned auto racing events in the 1920s, Black men were barred from racing at the highest competitive levels and were subjected to scathing remarks and racism at smaller local venues.

The Brown Bullet tells the story of Rajo Jack, one of the first Black drivers in America who broke down barriers just for a chance to show up at the track.

Even today, Black racers face undue prejudice when attempting to enter a predominately white sport; this book sheds light on the origins of that entrenched discrimination.

By Bill Poehler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Brown Bullet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The powers-that-be in 1920s auto racing, namely the American Automobile Association's Contest Board, barred everyone who wasn't a white male from the sport. But Dewey Gatson, a black man who went by the name Rajo Jack, drove into the center of "outlaw" auto racing in California, refusing to let the pervasive racism of his day stop him from competing against entire fields of white drivers. In The Brown Bullet, journalist Bill Poehler uncovers the life of a long-forgotten trailblazer and the great lengths he took to even get on the track, showing ultimately how Rajo Jack proved to a generation…


Book cover of Roberta Cowell's Story

Elizabeth Blackstock Why did I love this book?

Roberta Cowell made history as the first British transgender woman to undergo gender-affirming surgery, but that isn’t the extent of her story.

She was also a fighter pilot in World War II who survived five months in a prisoner-of-war camp and a race car driver.

Though she was able to find doctors willing to provide her with the surgery that would affirm her gender identity, she gave up so much in the process, including a race car engineering company and her motorsport career.

Her autobiography is a poignant reminder of how far we've come in the subsequent decades.

By Roberta Cowell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Roberta Cowell's Story as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

First published in 1993. The purpose of this book is to help those who help others. Research has consistently demonstrated that those in the professions, particularly helping professions, have significantly higher levels of stress and burnout. Studies have shown that the profession with the greatest vulnerability to these illnesses is teaching.


You might also like...

The Chomsky Effect: A Radical Works Beyond the Ivory Tower

By Robert F. Barsky,

Book cover of The Chomsky Effect: A Radical Works Beyond the Ivory Tower

Robert F. Barsky Author Of Clamouring for Legal Protection: What the Great Books Teach Us about People Fleeing from Persecution

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Writer Professor of Humanities Borders Radicalist

Robert's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Noam Chomsky has been praised by the likes of Bono and Hugo Chávez and attacked by the likes of Tom Wolfe and Alan Dershowitz. Groundbreaking linguist and outspoken political dissenter—voted “most important public intellectual in the world today” in a 2005 magazine poll—Chomsky inspires fanatical devotion and fierce vituperation.

In The Chomsky Effect, Chomsky biographer Robert Barsky examines Chomsky's positions on a number of highly charged issues—including Vietnam, Israel, East Timor, and his work in linguistics—that illustrate not only “the Chomsky effect” but also “the Chomsky approach.”

Chomsky, writes Barsky, is an inspiration and a catalyst. Not just an analyst…

The Chomsky Effect: A Radical Works Beyond the Ivory Tower

By Robert F. Barsky,

What is this book about?

"People are dangerous. If they're able to involve themselves in issues that matter, they may change the distribution of power, to the detriment of those who are rich and privileged."--Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky has been praised by the likes of Bono and Hugo Chávez and attacked by the likes of Tom Wolfe and Alan Dershowitz. Groundbreaking linguist and outspoken political dissenter--voted "most important public intellectual in the world today" in a 2005 magazine poll--Chomsky inspires fanatical devotion and fierce vituperation. In The Chomsky Effect, Chomsky biographer Robert Barsky examines Chomsky's positions on a number of highly charged issues--Chomsky's signature issues,…


Topics
  • Coming soon!

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in presidential biography, World War 1, and Germany?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about presidential biography, World War 1, and Germany.

Presidential Biography Explore 19 books about presidential biography
World War 1 Explore 900 books about World War 1
Germany Explore 483 books about Germany