While the Carroll Smith collection may sound like a range of crockery from Sears, it’s actually a series of five books which are the testaments of race preparation. Smith was a racing legend who passed away in 2003 after working with everything from an MGTF to a Formula 5000 car, and was the team leader for Ford’s all-conquering GT40 program. A part of the vast knowledge he accumulated in his years is presented in Engineer to Win, Tune to Win, Prepare to Win, Drive to Win, and the Nuts, Bolts, Fasteners, and Plumbing Handbook.
The books are cheap — Carroll’s website retails all five for just under $100, and as usual, Amazon undercuts that by a few dollars a piece. While most technical manuals are written in a dense, scientist-y prose which is as difficult to understand as the appeal of celebrity tabloids, Carroll’s books are like a conversation at lunch hour. He sticks to simple statements, doesn’t worry too much about the underlying mathematics in what he’s learned, and isn’t afraid to drop the occasional swear word. Every one of the books is an entertaining and very useful read. Engineer to Win, for example, contains one of the best introductions to metallurgy and materials science I’ve ever read.