Whilst there are some fantastic resources online that you can use to improve as a sim racer, sometimes it’s best to go back to the basics and pick up a good old fashion book!
Fortunately for us sim racers, a huge amount of books and other resources that are written about real-world racecraft can also be applied to sim racing.
The best sim racing books are:
- Ultimate Speed Secrets
- Science Of Speed Series
- You Suck At Racing
- Going Faster!
- The Racing & High-Performance Tire
Ultimate Speed Secrets
Ultimate Speed Secrets covers all the skills that you need to improve as a racer, in order to become more competitive. Everything from adjusting to new cars, how to approach new tracks, racing lines, and even mental preparation is covered in this book.
At 336 pages long, it’s not long enough that you end up getting bored before you finish it, but like with any topic, it can sometimes be a bit dry. Nonetheless, as I mentioned earlier, it’s what I ( and many others) consider to be one of the best racing books ever to be written, and will always be the first book that I recommend to any aspiring sim racer that is looking at ways to improve.
Science Of Speed Series
The Science of Speed series is actually three books, but I couldn’t really recommend one without the others. The three books that make up the Science of Speed series are:
The Perfect Corner, The Perfect Corner 2, and Perfect Control are very quick reads at just over 100-pages each, so you can easily finish them in a couple of days if you’ve for the time.
The Perfect Corner, and The Perfect Corner 2 cover exactly what they say they do – cornering. Cornering is where speed is gained or lost in racing, so understanding how to make the most out of every corner is crucial. The Perfect Corner 1 and 2 looks at the different types of corners that you might see on the track and aims to explain and teach you how to approach different situations, based on physics and how it affects our driving.
Perfect Control aims to build your understanding of when you are pushing the car to its absolute limits, based on various cues that real-world drivers use in order to self-evaluate their performance on the track.
If you’re after a couple of quick reads that you can get through in a weekend and are also interested in the finer details of the physics and the how’s and why’s of cornering behavior and strategy then the Science of Speed series is for you.
You Suck At Racing
Despite the title of this book feeling like a personal attack, You Suck At Racing: A Crash Course For The Novice Driver is written by Ian Korf, a professor from the University of California Davis. Yes, that’s right, he’s not a professional racer and that’s exactly the selling point of this book. It was written by a hobbyist, for the hobbyist.
It’s a short read at only 110 pages and gets straight to the point of what you want to learn. Very little fluff or padding, and just straight-up information.
I’d recommend this book as a good starting point if you’re new to sim racing, or racing in general. It’s obviously not marketed towards the more veteran sim racers out there, but it is a very valuable resource to the newcomer who is interested in working their way up the ranks.
Going Faster! Mastering the Art of Race Driving is a slightly older book than the last few that we’ve looked at in this article, written in 1997.
This book is great because it is written by real-world Skip Barber Racing School instructors. It is these instructors’ jobs to teach professional racers how to be faster, and now you have that same information available to you in this book.
Whether you are a novice or a veteran sim racer, there is something that everyone can take away from this book and even though the publication date might be a bit old, the content and information in the book remain relevant to this day, and will well into the future. Surprisingly, little has changed around the core aspects of racing apart from just going a lot faster than they did a few decades ago.
Going Faster! is 294 pages of invaluable information. This book goes along with Ultimate Speed Secrets as a must-have.
The Racing & High-Performance Tire
The Racing & High-Performance Tire: Using Tires to Tune for Grip & Balance isn’t a book that is exactly about racecraft but more focused on the technical aspects of race cars. Learning how to understand what the car is doing, specifically how the tires are working for and against you.
It is a fantastic book that compliments the other books in this article and aims to round out your knowledge as a sim racer, giving you an advantage of know-how the tires are behaving and being able to push them to their limits, knowledge that most sim racers do not possess.
Real-world racing books can provide a great source of information for sim racers, and is something that is often overlooked by the majority of drivers. If you’re trying to become the best sim racer that you can possibly be, then adding a couple of these books to your bookshelf is a great way to assist you in getting there.
If you’re only after a single book to start, pick up Ultime Speed Secrets by Ross Bentley. It’s considered the holy grail of racing books by many drivers and offers some fantastic, well-rounded information that can directly be applied to sim racing.