Tracks: Racing the Sun

Written by Sandro Martini
Review by I.D. Roberts

Meticulously researched, beautifully crafted, and a captivating read from beginning to end, Tracks: Racing the Sun focuses on the men and women plying their trade and skills in the early days of motor racing, and is breathtakingly told against a rich background of Il Duce’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany.

The story begins in Venice in 1968 where an American author, while researching for a book about the legendary figures of the sport, is interviewing an Italian journalist who covered motor racing in the 1930s and 40s. The book then flips between the two time lines and explores in great depth the fierce rivalries between the drivers and the manufacturers of the Italian team of Alfa-Romeo, the French of Bugatti and the Germans of Mercedes-Benz and of Auto Union (now Audi), involving such fascinating historical characters as Enzo Ferrari, Dr Porsche and Alfred Neubauer.

The descriptions of the races themselves are incredible, too, which is not surprising as Sandro Martini also plies his trade as a journalist, and they positively speed by, so much so that it’s hard not to tear the pages as you read faster and faster and faster. You can positively smell the hot oil, the petrol fumes, the burning rubber and the sweat of fear and anticipation. The historical detail throughout is truly impressive, and the story itself is a romantic tragedy full of humour, passion, death and rebirth on and off the track.