Confused as to what to do with all the Barnes & Nobles and Amazon.com gift cards your in-laws pelted you with this Holiday season? Be confused no more! Legendary Race Cars is the book every pistonhead needs sitting on their night stand in 2010. We really hope you haven't gone all Kindle on us, because Basem Wasef's coffee table-sized book is loaded bow to stern with gorgeous photographs of some of the most desirable cars ever built, let alone raced. Wasef took all the non-vintage pictures, too, and they're quite stunning.
What cars? Well, that's the really fantastic part. Put it like this: had we been asked to write such a book, our choices wouldn't have been much different. There are 25 legendary racers in all, spanning from motorsports earliest days right on up to the present. In truth, a great mix of racing machines.
The first car discussed is the Ford GT40 and the last is Sterling Moss's Mercedes-Benz 300SLR – the No. 722 car. In between you get Carroll Shelby's Aston Martin DBR1 and Cobra Daytona Coupe, all the Auto Union Grand Prix Cars, Senna's McLaren MP4/4, Fangio's Maserati 250F and of course the brutally awesome Porsche 917. Each car is discussed in informative, enthusiastic and playful detail, yet the text is never slavish or obsessive. If you want to know who cut the Maserati 8CM's splines, look elsewhere.
And that's not even the half of it, as Legendary Race Cars is loaded with more winners like Richard Petty's Plymouth SuperBird, the first round the world winner, the Thomas Flyer, the Indy-dominating Marmon Wasp (first car to ever employ a rear-view mirror!), Audi's Group B killer S1 Quattro, Schumacher's Ferraris, McRae's Subarus and even Ecurie Ecosse's Jaguars.
Some of you might be familiar with Basem Wasef's first book, Legendary Motorcycles. If you are, you'll no doubt remember that Jay Leno wrote the introduction to that one. Not bad for your first book. For his second book, Basem got none other than Sir Stirling Moss to pen the foreword, which, for you whippersnappers who have no clue who Sir Stirling is, would be like getting Snoop Dogg to help you write an essay about gangsta rappers and marijuana.
Here's part of what Moss has to say, "Selecting these 25 legendary cars cannot have been easy. Automobiles, like paintings and other works of art, have different effects on different people... I would hate to have been making the choice – but I am enormously proud and happy to have been invited to write the foreword for this book." All we can do is say wow. For his third book, Mr. Wasef will no doubt be writing it in Colin Chapman's blood. Until then, pick up a copy of Legendary Race Cars (It's $23.10 right now at Amazon). You won't regret it one iota. Make the jump to watch Basem Wasef discuss Legendary Race Cars with none other than Jay Leno, and don't forget to check out the gallery that's filled with some choice stills from the book.