CM . . .
. Volume XIII Number 2 . . . .September 15, 2006
Vroom! Motoring into the Wild World of Racing.
Toronto, ON: Tundra, 2006.
64 pp., pbk., $22.99.
Automobile racing-Juvenile literature.
Grades 4-8 / Ages 9-13.
Review by Val Ken Lem.
Reviewed from prepublication copy.
Once considered the “bad boy” of auto racing, drag racing has become one of the most popular forms of the sport, and it is certainly the simplest. This is a contest that relies on excellent hand-eye coordination and on having the quickest car. There are no laps, nor corners, and no pit stops. When you pull up to the starting line, you have to be ready—there’s no second chance.
With Vroom!, Tim Miller’s first book for children, he is certain to gain a new audience of appreciative readers. Previously, he has written for newspapers, racing publications, and co-authored NASCAR Now published in 2004. Miller’s love and knowledge of racing sports comes across clearly in this new work that will inform both juvenile race fans and newcomers to the sport alike.
The first chapter provides a brief history of automobile racing, complete with a couple of vintage photos, followed by some basic background information that applies to all types of racing. The importance of design, engines and how they work, and common racing terms are all explained in a clear style. Do you know how horsepower is defined? This book will teach you. Other facts and anecdotes are also neatly supplied in the margins with coloured traffic lights adding splashes ofcolour to complement the colour photographs that enliven most pages. The chapter ends with a “special feature” on driver and spectator safety.
Chapter two covers Grand Prix or Formula 1 racing as well as other types of road racing by sports cars and rally cars. Young readers will benefit from Miller’s explanation of how these cars differ from the family vehicles that they know best. He discusses the organization of racing from amateur through professional, and touches upon issues such as the athleticism of the drivers, the cost of operating a Grand Prix team, and highlights some of the big name races and famous drivers.
A third chapter focuses on cars that race on oval tracks including Indy or Champ cars, open-wheeled racers and stock car racers including the NASCAR vehicles. The astonishing fact that most NASCAR races draw over 100,000 live spectators and that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway seats 250,000 fans attests to the popularity of racing in America. To bring track racing closer to young dreamers, Miller includes a profile of a young karter from Ontario who has been racing since the age of five with mechanical and other support from his dad.
The final chapter covers legal drag racing and includes a profile of a young female junior drag racer from Ontario. Other features of the book are a six-page glossary of racing terms and a webliography that is broken into the following categories: Formula 1, Road racing, Rallying, Drag racing, Stock car racing, and Oval track racing. The websites include official sites of racing clubs, associations, official sites of some federations and racing teams as well as some more commercial sites. As is normal with websites, some urls already have valid redirects, with only a couple of duds. The amount and type of information available is varied but can lead to many hours of additional research and entertainment for readers of all ages.
While some international and foreign races are mentioned in Vroom!, the focus is upon North American racing and consequently uses imperial measurements to describe distances, speed and engine measurements. However, a brief conversion guide from imperial to metric is included at the end of the acknowledgements.
Vroom! will be a welcome addition to school and public libraries. Boys, especially, but girls, too, can learn a lot about automobile racing from this attractively designed work.
Val Ken Lem is a catalogue librarian and collection liaison for English, history and Caribbean studies at Ryerson University in Toronto, ON.
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