Like Peter Egan's Leanings series of books (and Side Glances collections), TDC is a compilation of Kevin Cameron's Cycle World columns of the same name. For those unfamiliar, Cameron is a literal engineering genius and it shows month after month in his works (or page after page here, as the case may be). At times though, his writing style can become a bit overwhelming even for an adept mechanic to ingest. He is hardly to blame though as he prides himself on tackling subjects that are simply mind boggling. Readers should expect an information overload as nearly each and every page of this book digs into the most intricate mechanical processes and somehow manages to make sense of them.
Cameron has a knack for exploring technologies not only current, but also in their inception and race applications. It isn't uncommon for him to take a look at a mechanism that comes as standard equipment on today's bikes then to jump back to the earliest records of its inception (be it military or civilian), discuss the concept's trial and error evolution, get into how it affected race-bikes in the early 1980's, then relate it back to today's stock iteration. And all of this is a single paragraph of one article.
It is clear his thirst for knowledge is rivaled only by his desire to educate others in what he's uncovered. But realize that unlike Egan's works, this can hardly be considered light reading. Cameron rarely spends time penning fluff or downplaying advanced concepts so that younger readers/ beginners can follow along. His columns dive right into the technicalities and continue to pull the reader along whether they're ready or not. I often find myself reading a paragraph over and over in attempt to separate the flood of interesting facts presented into smaller bits. Having KC's works chronologically organized into a single volume turns a solid monthly editorial into a piece of reference literature worthy of any coffee table; Whether it belongs to a meachanic, rider, or otherwise.
Bruce D. O'Reilly, Jr.
I subscribe to Cycle World solely to read Kevin Cameron's TDC column, so when I saw that he written a book with the same title, I rushed out and bought two copies, one for myself, and one to give as a gift for my motorcycle club's holiday party. I started reading as soon as the book arrived. I was a little disappointed, because the articles in the book are different from Kevin's Cycle World articles of the last few years. The articles in the book are focused on motorcycle racing, where his recent articles have focused on technology. When an issue of Cycle World arrives, I turn straight to Kevin's column, and I am never disappointed. The guy is the best technical writer I have ever encountered. This is what I was expecting, but instead I got a collection of articles about racing. The writing in the racing articles is of course up to Kevin's usual very high standard. I have been a luke warm fan of racing, and now after reading Kevin's book, my interest is much greater.
But, please, I want a collection of Kevin's articles on technology. There are a lot of writers who cover racing well. There is no one else who covers technology the way Kevin Cameron does.
BMW Club of Southern California
Racers who want to climb the sport's greasy pole need the basics: skill, will, energy, luck, focus, money and opportunity. Comparable skills are vital in every phase of racing --machine choice, tuning, tire selection, maintenance, logistics, acquiring sponsorship, managing stress. Another helpful ingredient rises above almost all others: a mentor, sitting patiently alongside, to make sure that we understand what is going on and what to do about it most effectively.
Enter Kevin Cameron with TDC, tracing his racing experience over a 35-year career as perhaps the most knowledgeable and capable man in the field, certainly among its finest writers. Individuals may exceed his skills in narrow areas but no one has assembled the 'package' Cameron brings to the task. The book is a four-part selection of 51 of his writings in CYCLE WORLD from 1973-2005, with current, brief introductions, and helps us understand why he is essential reading for serious enthusiasts.
In his first section, THE RACING LIFE, Cameron analyzes where most racers are coming from: privateers with limited means, the moments and signposts that created today's scene (e.g. 1974, year of the 'slick'), the art of crashing, the two-stroke/four-stroke conundrum, frames, suspensions, disk brakes (remember drums?), pioneering riders, some of the appalling incidents that doomed many racing efforts. Ever slept in a van, worked 36 hours straight fueled by coffee and junk food? He has. You can, um, smell it on the page.
With his second grouping, RACERS, he appraises the great riders--attitudes, character, what enabled them to win: Mick, Wayne, Eddie, Freddie, KR, Kevin. Even if you don't know racing's past greats, their strengths and weaknesses, rendered insightfully by Cameron, resonate today throughout the sport--Colin and Casey, Nicky and Vale. New names and faces, sure, but similar human nature propelling the agony and ecstasy, the triumphs and disasters.
MOGULS, MAVENS AND MECHANICS examines some great characters such as Soichiro Honda, John Britten, Jeremy Burgess, Robin Tuluie, Robert Muzzy, Eraldo Ferraci. These are not sketches but insights into the characters, behaviors, skills and motivations that drove these men. He understands not just their external, public personas, but their minds and hearts.
In INNER WORKINGS, the last selection, Cameron returns to his roots: what the machine is doing, how to understand it. He has the uncanny ability to reach down to molecular levels to explain what is happening inside machinery and convey it with dazzling simplicity. Anyone can write turgid, complex descriptions of complicated physical processes, and many do. Few can render esoterica in simple, elegant terms comprehensible to average minds. No wonder the NEW YORK TIMES turns to Cameron, often. We're still not plumbing his depths: he's expert in many areas, including aviation and the amazing radials of WWII.
Anyone who has ever raced, who is racing or who intends to race, in any serious area of motorsports at any level, or just go to the races, or merely watch them on TV, must absorb TDC. You'll learn more in this one book than in decades at the track, at $26.95 (retail) the least expensive learning and life wisdom you'll ever find. It is The Word. Cameron is motorsports' national treasure and our essential mentor.