Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Book Review: Think Fast - The Racer's Why-To Guide to Winning

Book Cover - Think Fast author Neil Roberts offers engineering for racers through ThinkFast Engineering. Image Credit:

Book Review: Think Fast - The Racer's Why-To Guide to Winning

Think Fast - The Racer's Why-To Guide to Winning, was written by one of the forces behind the successes at Swift Engineering, Neil Roberts.  Think Fast was first published by the author in 2010, with the most recent edition published June 5, 2012 which can be purchased directly from the author (ISBN 1451558759; MSRP $30;

Think Fast is a collection of Neil Roberts' insights, as a winning SCCA open wheel racer, professional race team engineer (CART) and aerospace engineer. Roberts explores decision-making and time management issues involved with creating and managing a winning racing effort.

The author addresses four major topical areas in this book -- driving skills, the mental game, automobile tuning, and engineering.  Chapters include helpful illustrations and graphs that communicate very effectively.

Included are tips on autocross & track driving, race car set-ups, engineering dos & don'ts, and race team management; however,  this "why-to" softcover could be an inspirational how-to guide for any process-oriented business effort or an individual exploring promising routes to a directed, successful life.

Sections of Think Fast may appear to target engineering-minded race car developers who expect to drive, but they are finessed to allow the non-technical reader to easily understand the dynamic forces involved with each of the automobile subsystems discussed.

I was enlightened by the author's concepts on becoming a winning thinker, person, team member, and controller of one's own destiny.  Neil Roberts effectively communicated nuggets of information he gleaned over a multi-faceted career in competition combined with humor and personal situational anecdotes.

Some of the more compelling and/or enjoyable concepts covered in Think Fast are:

-- "If you are looking for an employee who will get the job done on time every time, who will take full responsibility and pride in the results that he or she produces, and who considers exceeding your expectations to be standard practice, HIRE A RACER."

-- Under Right Of Way - "The car in front of you owns the entire width of the track , even if you are along side, and even if you are about to lap that car. The car in front of you has the right to use any and all of the track, the curbs, and the grass, so any contact is your fault. The instant that the nose of your car edges ahead of the nose of the other car by one micron, the roles reverse. Now you own the entire width of the track, and you can drive anywhere you want."

-- "If your car starts to feel like a faithful servant, you are not driving it hard enough."

-- "There is an easy way to tell whether or not a race car part is too heavy. I you let go of it and it falls down, it's too heavy."

-- "It is just as easy to calculate laps per pound as it is miles per gallon."

-- "The voice of reason has a very hard time competing with the volume of nonsense in the paddock."

-- "Never carry anything around in your head that you can carry around in your trunk."

-- "Despite the title of this book, "Think Slowly" is much better advise when it comes to making handling changes. It takes some effort to take the time to stop, sit down, close your eyes, and think it [the problem] through carefully before you make any race car development decisions."

--  “It takes some effort to separate your ego from the value that your idea offers. People should be treated with respect. Ideas should be beaten to within an inch of their lives. The good ones survive by demonstrating real added value to the program."

-- "Everyone reports to someone, and the boss reports to the customers. If the boss forgets that, disaster is guaranteed."

-- "Given the colossal effort that is required to finish first, it should be completely obvious that victory is earned, not won. Victory is the goal that we all strive for, but it's only one result of many other things that must be earned on the way there."

Neil Roberts knows how to communicate ideas through the written word. If this were just another book written by an engineer, for engineers, watching paint dry might be a better choice of pursuit than Roberts' Think Fast -The Racer's Why-To Guide To Winning. This book is recommended reading for anyone focused on improving their understanding of making cars fast, and on a much larger level, honing one's process-oriented thinking for other, more important tasks encountered through a life lived well.

… notes from The EDJE

** Article first published as Book Review: Think Fast - The Racer's Why-To Guide to Winning on Technorati **

1 comment:

American Le Mans Series said...

I have not had the privileged of reading this book yet. I hear its really good read.