As much as I love to read- I am not a huge fan of historical fiction. To me the genre is a contradiction to itself- is it history or is it fiction? In my mind- you can’t really be both since history deals with real people, places, and times. Conversely, by it’s very definition, fiction is fabrication, and of the imagination. Plus I tend to enjoy my books to be set in the here and now or that at the very least could be set in the now despite when it was written. That’s just my personal preference- what makes me me I guess. Does that mean that is ONLY what I will read? No- of course not.
When I was offered a reader’s copy of Tracks: Racing The Sun by Sandro Martini, I went into it knowing that I was going to be reading historical fiction. I figured since it was about racing I would at the very least give it a try. This is another case where I am so glad I did.
I don’t know if it was made more realistic to me because of attending the Historic Car Races out at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca this year where I fell in love with the pre-war section of the paddock area. Or maybe it had to do with reading and reviewing the Eddie Rickenbacker biography earlier this year…but Tracks: Racing the Sun was a lovely surprise I might have normally dismissed casually because of the genre.
“‘The oval at Indy,’ I told him, “is like nothing you’ve ever seen before, Rudi. It’s a daunting place. An American place: it sucks you in and makes a friend of you-‘
‘And then it kills you with a smile,‘ completed Varzi.”- pages 307-308 Tracks: Racing the Sun by Sandro Martini.
Tracks: Racing The Sun is told from a journalist’s perspective of the time (Finestrini), as he slowly peels away the layers of the story of driver Achille Varzi like an onion, including his fall into a morphine addiction that ended his career, to another journalist (an American- Joe Deutsch). However the story isn’t just about Varzi, or about drug addiction or a fall from grace, but about the overall climate of the era- both in regards to auto racing and in general as the world struggles with the effects of the depression and rise of a Fascist Europe. The main story teller in the book, the Italian motorsports journalist Finestrini, is just that- a natural storyteller and it is this character that draws the reader into the story. While the book is fairly fast paced (I read it in less than four days), there are parts where the reader isn’t quite sure what exactly is going on- but that just drew me further into the story- wanting to know what, exactly, was going on. Plus it didn’t hurt matters that there are references to real people and places (is it weird that I now get excited when someone mentions the Nurburgring? Probably- I am weird like that). It’s important, however, to remember that this is a NOVEL with historical elements. I recommend this book- especially if you are fan of historical fiction who happens to be a race fan as well as the motorsports enthusiast.
For “Full Disclosure” purposes: A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review- the words and thoughts however (except for excerpts from the book) are my own.