More than a decade ago, I decided to jump head first into the world of SCCA motorsports. OK, maybe it was more like feet first- I was only getting started in autocrossing. Nevertheless, I arrived for the Chicago Region's annual autocross school, convinced I'd set the scene on its ear with my street-tuned Golf.
How naive I was. I figured if I showed up with a hot-rodded hot hatch and my own natural talent, I'd be taking home trophies in no time. Instead I found out I had modified my daily car to the point that it would have to run in a class where it was not only non-competitive, it was also dominated by much cheaper and less "prepared" cars than mine. If I'd had a resource like Dave Gran's Go Ahead- Take the Wheel my expectations on that blustery April day might have been less fantastic.
Unlike so many other books that focus entirely on driving technique or car preparation, Go Ahead lays a realistic foundation for aspiring road racers by explaining, in clear terms, what it really takes to get out on the track and race. Gran does this by peeling back the shrouds of secrecy and hierarchy inherent to most clubs, essentially inviting the reader on a guest tour of the inner workings of a race weekend.
The real purpose of this book is to give novice drivers all the answers to questions they probably don't know to ask, and in this goal the author succeeds immensely. Gran covers all the bases, from basic car setup to budgeting for ongoing expenses, even going so far as to discuss sponsorship. And while Go Ahead is aimed primarily at those who dream of becoming a road racer with SCCA, NASA or some other sanctioning body, much of the advice and information is relevant to other forms of motorsport, particularly autocrossing and the ever-more-popular track-day driving events.
Aside from the anecdotal chapters that cover all the major subjects, Gran has also included several useful resources at the end of the book. Key among these is a series of cost worksheets-one for safety equipment, another for the race car, a separate one for tools, and another for annual racing expenses. Since racing is never a truly inexpensive endeavor, he has even included a sample sponsorship proposal to help would-be champions secure some assistance with their costs.
I learned the hard way about the joys of borrowing helmets, the expense of destroying street tires and the nuances of secret fraternities. Luckily, today's novices can skip these unpleasantries and head to the grid with the kind of knowledge and confidence that I lacked those first few events.
Go Ahead- Take the Wheel- $16.95
Written by Dave Gran
Published by Dragon Publishing
Available online at www.goaheadtakethewheel.com
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