Piero Taruffi’s Classic Racing Book

This week I acquired a book that read many years ago when I borrowed it from the public library in Shelburne, Ontario.  I can remember studying this book and getting insights on how to drive a car fast.  This book was “The Technique of Motor Racing” by Piero Taruffi that was written in 1958 and first published in 1959.  Taruffi wrote this book just after he retired from racing after winning the one race that he always wanted to win – the Mille Miglia in 1957.  This is a very popular book as the copy of the book that I just bought was the 13th printing of this book (as of the year 2000) since its first printing in 1959. 

Taruffi’s Classic Book on Racing

Taruffi was very well qualified to write this book.  Taruffi was born in Rome, Italy in 1906.  He began racing motorcycles and he won numerous motorcycle races, many of them Grand Prix races.  Taruffi broke 38 World’s records on a motorcycle in the 1930s.  Even when he switched his on-track focus to cars, he continued to be involved with motorcycles.  For example, he was the racing manager for Gilera from 1950 to 1956.

While he was doing this motorcycle and car racing, in 1933 he obtained his Doctorate of Industrial Engineering.

He started car racing in 1931 when Enzo Ferrari asked him to join the Scuderia Ferrari.  Over the years he was a member of many works racing teams.  He finished 3rd in the Formula 1 World Drivers Championship in 1952.   He won the 1951 Carrera Panamericana, the 1952 Grand Prix of Switzerland, the 1954 Targa Florio, the 1956 1000km Race at Nurburgring, and his famous victory in the Mille Miglia in 1957.  Like many racers of his era, he lost many of his prime racing years due to the lack of races during World War II.

You could say that Piero Taruffi did it all.  And I did not mention that he was one of Italy’s top downhill skiers and was competitive on a bob sled run as well.

The book is quite technical with many charts and graphs like the one shown below:

 Taruffi Uses Many Drawings to Illustrate His Point

In glancing through the book yesterday, I was drawn to one image that he included in the book about “slipstreaming”.  This image is shown below.

Taruffi Illustrating Drafting in His Racing Book

What struck me when I saw this again, was the story of how NASCAR’s Junior Johnson “discovered” drafting during the 1960 Daytona 500 and used this strategy to win the race.  Clearly no one involved with NASCAR at that time had bothered to read Taruffi’s book or they would have already known about the “tow” effect caused by a lead car that is punching a hole in the wind.   Or perhaps Junior Johnson was the only one who read Taruffi’s book at that time.

Another technique that Taruffi uses is comparative photographs to illustrate driving and racing points.  The photograph below is an example of this.

Taruffi’s Using Photograph’s To Illustrate a Point

I still find this book to be very informative and I would recommend Taruffi’s book to anyone who wants to improve their driving at speed.

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