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Book Picks: Cuddle Up With These Winning Reads

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, December 24 2016

The Ford GT40s ruled Le Mans in the mid-1960s. They brought down almighty Ferrari.

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

When the weather outside is frightful this holiday season…it’s the perfect time to crack open a book. So put on a pot of coffee, slip into your blue Snuggie (only because your favorite red one is in the wash with a guacamole stain) and feed your brain for a change. Because dude, do you really give a flip about who wins the Hellmann’s Mayonnaise Salad Bowl between East Hoboken University and State Penn?

Here’s a collection of recently published offerings any car guy will appreciate.

Ford GT: How Ford Silenced the Critics, Humbled Ferrari and Conquered Le Mans, By Preston Lerner. We originally Interviewed Lerner in July, shortly after Ford celebrated the 50th anniversary of its historic 1-2-3 podium sweep at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with a win in GTE Pro Class during the 84th edition of the twice-around-the-clock French classic on June 18-19.

Last August, Ford GT won a Silver Award at the International Automotive Media Competition. And at year’s end, Lerner and photographer Dave Friedman earned top honors from the Motor Press Guild Awards for Best of the Year: Book Category.

Additionally, Lerner recently was selected winner of the Dean Batchelor Award for Excellence in Automotive Journalism. The Motor Press Guild Awards single out persons demonstrating outstanding achievement in automotive journalism and communication.

Ford GT celebrates Henry Ford II’s determination to humble Enzo Ferrari at the world’s greatest

Don Frey gives Dan Gurney instructions before a high-speed racetrack demonstration of the Mustang I at Watkins Glen prior to the US Grand Prix in 1962. Roy Lunn’s work on the prototype earned him the job of chief engineer on the Ford GT program.

endurance race, a goal realized with that 1966 victory. While Lerner details the ups and downs of Ford’s GT program, the text is accompanied by Shelby American photographer Friedman’s historic images in what rates as a bona fide time capsule.

Lerner has written about racing and a wide variety of subjects for magazines ranging from Sports Illustrated to Smithsonian to The New York Times Magazine. A contributing writer at Automobile Magazine for nearly 25 years, he recently moved to a new position as a contributing editor at Road & Track. In addition to Ford GT, Lerner is the author of three other books about racing and one novel, Fools on the Hill, which has absolutely nothing to do with motorsports.

Friedman was Shelby American’s official photographer in the 1960s, accompanying the team to races around the world. He is a longtime motorsports and film-still photographer and the author of several motor racing books, as well as a photographic contributor to dozens more.

Earlier this month, Lerner discussed the Ford GT project as guest speaker at the International Motor Racing Research Center in Watkins Glen, N.Y., spiritual home of American road-racing. The talk has been archived on the center’s website and YouTube.

“That was the first public speaking engagement I’ve ever done, so it was a bit intimidating,” Lerner said in an email. “But it’s a subject that I can talk authoritatively (ahem) about even in my sleep, which made things much easier. Although I don’t think I have a career as a motivational speaker ahead of me, most of the people seemed reasonably pleased.”

Lerner is a former colleague from our days at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. A resident of Southern California, Lerner’s visit to Upstate New York at the start of winter was a bit of culture shock. “I froze my ass off!” Lerner said. “It was 19 degrees (overnight)…thank God there was no precipitation or I don’t think I would have made it to the airport on time.”

Lerner’s visit included a tour of Watkins Glen International’s 3.45-mile road-course _ some of it covered with snow _ by IMRRC staffer Bill Greene, who also took him around the original street circuit downtown.

“I’m definitely going to try to make a race at Watkins Glen this year,” Lerner said. “But I’m definitely not heading back there in the winter again if I can help it.”

Format: Hardbound, 224 pages/ISBN: 978-0-7603-4787-4

Published: 2015 by Motorbooks, an imprint of Quarto Publishing Group USA, Inc., Minneapolis, Minn.

Size: 10.25-inches x 12.25-inches

Price: $60.00

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Cuba’s Car Culture: Celebrating the Island’s Automotive Love Affair, By Tom Cotter and Bill Warner. Cuba has been trapped in an automotive time warp since the Communist takeover in 1959. The Discovery Channel gave us an intriguing look into the island’s innovative enthusiast culture via its Cuban Chrome series that aired in the summer of 2015. Recall that one of the featured vehicles was an early 1950s Oldsmobile sedan used by its owner and his sons as a taxi to support the family…right until the time its boat engine expired!

Surprisingly, the people of Cuba once bought more cars per capita than any other Latin American country. Their love affair with America’s chromed beauties and finned beasts has continued for over 50 years. Co-authors Cotter and Warner explore this unique culture, one populated with cars that have been cut off from the world for so long they’ve often morphed into something beyond a Chevy Bel-Air, Ford Fairlane or Studebaker.

Cotter and Warner, founder of the Amelia Island Concours, tour all things automotive, beginning with Cuba’s pre-Castro car and racing history through today’s lost collector cars, street racing and challenges of keeping decades-old autos on the road without access to genuine replacement parts. The book is illustrated with rare historical photos as well as images from the current car scene. Sir Stirling Moss penned the foreward.

Cotter has authored 10 automotive books, including most of the popular “In the Barn” series for Motorbooks. He also has written for the New York Times and Road & Track magazine.

Format: Hardcover, 192 pages/ISBN: 978-0-7603-5026-3

Illustrations: 160 color and 38 black/white photos

Published: Oct. 1, 2016 by Motorbooks, an imprint of Quarto Publishing Group USA, Inc., Minneapolis, Minn.

Size: 9.25-inches by 10.875-inches

Price: $35.00

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Route 66 Barn Find Road Trip: Lost Collector Cars Along the Mother Road, By Tom Cotter. Author/auto archaeologist Cotter and BBF (best barn finder) Brian Barr travelled along Route 66, just outside Chicago, in search of rusted American iron in every state the road meanders through. Ace photographer Michael Alan Ross documented the finds, mishaps and misadventures.

Starting in the Midwest and continuing through Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico, the crew continued on to Arizona in Cotter’s beloved 1939 Ford Woody wagon before completing its trek in Santa Monica, Calif. This experienced group of nomads investigated every junker and jewel peeking out from the corroded garages and weary buildings along the historic highway, as well as the people who own them.

Format: Hardcover, 192 pages/ISBN: 978-0-7603-5170-3

Illustrations: 440 color photos

Published: Oct. 15, 2016 by Motorbooks, an imprint of Quarto Publishing Group USA, Inc., Minneapolis, Minn.

Size: 9.25-inches x 10.875-inches

Price: $35.00

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Porsche Turbo: The Inside Story of Stuttgart’s Turbocharged Road and Race Cars, By Randy Leffingwell. When Porsche introduced turbocharging to the racing world in the form of the 12-cylinder 917, the German manufacturer arguably changed the face of motorsports. But Porsche was not just about racing _ company management was committed to transferring that technology to the street.

So, Porsche engineers mounted a turbocharged version of its air-cooled flat six-cylinder engine in the fabled 911 and created the 930 Turbo. From the moment the 930 appeared in the spring of 1975 in Europe, it redefined the concept of the supercar. Its 2.994cc engine developed 260 horsepower at 5,500 RPM, making the 155-mph coupe with its prominent rear wing the fastest German production vehicle of its time.

During the period when big-block V8 engines in America’s Muscle Cars were cranking out 180 horsepower, the lightweight Porsche stood out as a genuine rocket ship. Over the years, the company has applied the groundbreaking technology to all of the vehicles it builds, from the Cayenne SUV to Porsche’s latest supercar, the 887-horsepower 918 Spyder.

Leffingwell, a former newspaper journalist and author of over 50 titles, also documents the turbocharged history of Porsche’s 935, 924,944, Cayman and Panamera models.

Before purchasing my 1987 Turbo (Guards Red/black) in August 1998, I was warned that while these cars

The author’s 930.

are a blast to drive, they are extremely temperamental and every repair is a major expense. To that end, I’m now going to have to buy a coffee table…just so I can display this wonderful book.

Format: Hardcover, 257 pages/ISBN: 978-0-7603-4758-4

First published: 2015 by Motorbooks, an imprint of Quarto Publishing Group USA, Inc., Minneapolis, Minn.

Size: 10.25-inches x 12.25-inches

Price: $60.00

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Ford Total Performance: Ford’s Legendary High-Performance Street and Race Cars, By Martyn L. Schorr. In the early 1960s, Ford Motor Company underwent a dramatic change of philosophy courtesy of chairman Henry Ford II. Ford’s emphasis on safety was failing to resonate with car-crazed Baby Boomers, a demographic quickly emerging on social, political and economic fronts.

Enter Lee Iacocca, general manager of Ford Division. Iacocca convinced “The Deuce” the company should ignore the restrictive Automobile Manufacturers Association’s ban on factory racing dating to 1957 and compete head-to-head with the rest of the motorsports world.

That was the genesis of Ford’s “Total Performance” program, which between 1961 and 1971 gave birth to lightweight drag racing cars like the 427 Fairlane Thunderbolts and Mercury Comets, the Monte Carlo Rally Falcons, 427 A/FX drag cars, Shelby Cobras and Mustangs, Le Mans-winning GT40s, Indy 500-winning race cars, 427 Overhead Cam engines, Boss 302 and 429 Mustangs, imported Italian Pantera supercars and other historic production racing cars.

With that, FoMoCo’s trademark “Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday!” marketing program was off-and-running.

An automotive journalist in the late 1960s and 1970s, Schorr was fortunate enough to have lived this story. A man with the right corporate connections, Schorr also drove most of the cars, including many of the purpose-built racers. Illustrated with never-before-seen period photos, the book gives an unprecedented look into one of America’s most exciting periods in the history of motorsports _ an era that forever solidified Ford’s racing DNA.

The foreward was provided by Lee Holman, the son of John Holman and current president of longtime/legendary Ford Racing partner Holman & Moody.

Format: Hardcover, 208 pages/ISBN: 978-0-7603-4858-1

First Published: October 2015 by Motorbooks, an imprint of Quarto Publishing Group USA, Inc., Minneapolis, Minn.

Size: 9.75-inches x 11.25-inches

Price: $45.00

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Shelby Cobra: The Snake That Conquered the World, By Colin Comer. This is a complete history

Carroll Shelby at the wheel of one of his iconic pieces – the Cobra.

of Carroll Shelby’s Cobras _ sports cars that set worldwide benchmarks that stand to this day. Beginning with the events that led up to Ol’ Shel’s decision to defy America’s auto manufacturers and build a high-performance sports car, Comer documents the evolution of production Cobra street cars and race cars and wraps up with Shelby American’s “continuation cars.”

This special collector’s edition includes new and updated material, featuring a tribute chapter to the late Shelby, poster-sized gatefolds and artwork by Hector Cadamartori and frame-worthy garage art. Shelby provided the foreward to this CS Official Licensed Product.

A respected authority on collector cars, Comer’s resume includes The Complete Book of Shelby Automobiles and Shelby Cobra Fifty Years.

Format: Hardcover, 272 pages/ISBN: 978-0-7603-4761-4

Illustrations: 246 color and 142 black/white photos

First Published: June 5, 2015 by Motorbooks, an imprint of Quarto Publishing Group USA, Inc., Minneapolis, Minn.

Size: 9.75-inches x 12-inches

Price: $75.00

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The Complete Book of American Muscle Supercars: Yenko, Shelby, Baldwin Motion, Grand Spaulding and More, By Tom Glatch. There was a time when these shops _ as well as Mr. Norms, Nickey and the backwards K _ played key roles in America’s automotive-performance history.

The men behind the names were geniuses of Muscle Car know-how, packaging big-block V8 engines, superchargers, functional hood scoops and assorted hot rod tricks into their vehicles. The rules they bent produced the meanest, mightiest and bad-assed vehicles that today remain among the most sought-after on the auction circuit.

Those of us lucky enough to have experienced it know the Muscle Car Era passed in the mid-1970s _ the victim of government regulations, rising insurance rates and corporate conformity…and not to forget, the introduction of rich Corinthian leather. And while many of the most desirable Muscle Cars have been lost (I always will regret selling my ’68 Camaro to buy a Corvette), those that have survived enjoy legendary status. This book tells their story, one incredible model at a time.

Format: Hardcover, 224 pages/ISBN: 978-0-7603-5006-5

First published: 2016 by Motorbooks, an imprint of Quarto Publishing Group USA, Inc., Minneapolis, Minn.

Size: 10-inches by 12.25-inches

Price: $50.00

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The Alternate Compass: A Craft Course on an Ironhorse, By Steve A. Anderson. Motorcycle enthusiast and Minnesota native Anderson notes in the book’s Preface that “Riding a motorcycle is not for everyone and not everyone should ride a motorcycle. You have to be comfortable with it.” If you and your bike are “friends,” consider taking on the 21-stage Alternate Compass stops along America’s less-travelled routes and discover the country at your own pace.

The stages can be selectively chosen to support a weekend adventure or a longer vacation, and certainly can be logged until you have completed all 21 tours. The journey includes local craft brewery samplings along the way…but only after that stage is safely in your log book.

“In the end, a memory is time well-spent while a dream is left in the pillow,” Anderson said. “Some of the best memories are the places you’ve been, the people you’ve met and the friendships you’ve built.”

A nice bit of two-wheel philosophizing, whether your bike is a Harley-Davidson or a Royal Enfield. But just in case…better pack your rain gear.

Format: Softcover, 241 pages/ISBN: 978-0-9964781-0-6

First Published: July 2015 by Steamboat Pubs/Steuben Press, available at Amazon.com

Size: 8.50-inches by 11-inches

Price: $25.99

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, December 24 2016
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