I just reread The Unfair Advantage the other day. This is the as-told-to autobiography Mark Donohue wrote with Paul Van Valkenburgh. The book isn’t for everybody: It’s a bit myopic, and it’s written solely for the hard-core fan. Nevertheless, it’s still one of the finest books ever written about racing, and it ought to be required reading for anybody who wants to understand the underpinnings of the sport—the hard work that goes on behind the scenes, the trial and error that goes into the development process, and the interior life of the drivers who are the focal point of the entire machine. But what’s most remarkable about the book is Donohue’s candor. Not about others, mind you. It’s easy, after all, to be brutally honest if you don’t care what people think about you. But Donohue reserves his most scathing scrutiny for himself, and what we get is a glimpse at the often fragile psyche of a world-class driver. It makes for fascinating reading for anybody interested in how the human brain operates. And the book is even better for people who want to know how a car is developed.
- Preston Lerner