[Editor's Note] Following is a review of Michael Argetsinger's book Mark Donohue: Technical Excellence at Speed. At the end of this review is a generous offer from David Bull Publishing. Be sure to read through it to receive a 20% discount on this book in conjunction with a discount on the newer Argetsinger book titled Mark Donohue, His Life In Photographs.
Book Review: Mark Donohue: Technical Excellence at Speed
After my last book review of A French Kiss With Death I'm starting to wish I knew more about racing history! I recently finished reading Mark Donohue: Technical Excellence at Speed, a detailed biography of racing legend Mark Donohue’s life. Written by Michael Argetsinger, this book captures Donohue’s spirit in so well, you'll feel you knew him intimately. There are lots of stories shared by Donohue’s family and friends that make this so much more than a racing history lesson. [Editor's note. We've had the good fortune of getting to know Mark's son David through interviews and racing events. While we are too young to have met Mark during his racing days, we do know that if he's anything at all like David, this missed opportunity is our loss.]
On the racetrack, Mark Donohue was a cut above, he had no equal and his rivals often contested his nickname, ‘Captain Nice’ because of his fierceness behind the wheel. A California reporter went so far in one story as to say that Donohue “looked like a choirboy and drives like a demon…”.
Off the track, however, Mark Donohue was a fun-loving, moral, personable guy that everyone could relate to. For instance, I learned I had more in common with Mark than just a passion for cars: we both wore red socks underneath otherwise traditional tuxedos on our wedding day. Quirky stories like this pop up throughout the book and bring a genuine depth to Donohue’s biography; Argetsinger clearly put a lot of effort into finding and speaking with people who knew Mark very well. Whether it’s about a championship race or trouble with the law, prepping a car or playing a practical joke – the effort that went toward finding these stories was well worth it.
Part of what makes this book great is the way it's organized. Broken into over 150 short-to-medium length chapters, you can read about a single race or an entire season in one sitting. Argetsinger’s writing style is easy to follow. The book’s abrupt ending mirrors the equally abrupt and tragic incident that led to Mark’s untimely demise. You may feel differently, but I like biographies written in this fashion. It allows the readers to draw their own conclusions and sentiments from the person’s life, instead of reading about the author’s opinion of the person in question. The only complaint I had with the book was totally unrelated to the writing: I wish there were more pictures of Donohue racing! Don’t get me wrong; there are plenty of photographs included, but there not enough to satiate the car / motorsports enthusiast within. [Editor's note: Fortunately, Andrew's complaint was heard and Argetsinger's newest book documents Donohue's life in photographs. See below for a discount offer on this book too].
Overall, I’d highly recommend this book to anyone interested in competitive racing, especially vintage motorsport. Donohue’s career was not primarily with Porsche, but his work with the fabled 917s make this book a good choice for the Porsche fans in your family. Donohue’s racing experiences with domestic brands Chevrolet and Ford make this book a great gift for anyone who enjoys American-made autos as well. As he was in life, Donohue’s biography has something almost everyone can identify with and enjoy.
20% Discount on select books at David Bull Publishing
David Bull Publishing is offering readers of FlatSixes.com a 20% discount on both Mark Donohue: Technical Excellence at Speed and Mark Donohue: His Life in Photographs. Simply enter the discount code PORPUR during the checkout process and your discount will be automatically applied.
The best part of this offer, is the discount for Mark Donohue: His Life in Photographs. I've done some shopping around and while you can get the first book Mark Donohue: Technical Excellence at Speed a bit cheaper on Amazon, no where is the picture book available for less than the cover price, until now that is! With 118 color photographs and 126 black and white shots, Mark Donohue: His Life in Photographs gives an intimate, insiders look into a racing legends all to brief career. Each picture is accompanied by a caption or comment from either the author or Donohue's peers (e.g. Dan Gurney, George Follmer, David Hobbs, John Surtees, and Bobby Unser, etc.).
If you want to take advantage of this 20% discount, be sure to do so quickly. The offer is good from today through October 25th. David has assured me that there will be future discount offers on other Porsche related books in the very near future.
In the meanwhile, be on the lookout for our next book review featuring Ted West's fictional debut Closing Speed. We're racing through the final chapters of this book (which gives a fictionalized accounting of the 1970 World Manufacturer's Championship and features the legendary Porsches of that era prominently) and can already say confidently that it's a must read for Porsche and racing fans alike. On deck is Behind the Wheel: The Great Automobile Aficionado. While we haven't yet started this hefty hardcover, it does feature James Dean in his 550 Spyder on the cover.