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.