In the opinion of many, Mark Donohue’s The Unfair Advantage is one of the finest racing books ever written. MCG takes a few moments to revisit a motorsports classic
It really is remarkable, and in a strange way, affirming: After all these years, ask racing professionals, from Indy car drivers to NASCAR crew chiefs to motorsports journalists, to name their favorite book about auto racing, and the one most usually called out is the classic volume by Mark Donohue and co-writer Paul Van Valkenburgh, The Unfair Advantage.
First published in 1975, the book is far from obsolete—in fact, it grows more golden every year. When a new edition was published in 2000, MCG was honored to write the review for AutoWeek magazine. An updated, web-friendly revision of that review follows below. -mcg
The Unfair Advantage was originally published in 1975, a bit lost in the wake of Mark Donohue’s brilliant life and its sudden, shocking end.
Donohue won three Trans-Am titles, the Indy 500 in 1972, and brutalized the Can-Am series in 1973 with the 917-30 turbo Porsche, a monster he personally chained and mastered. Little left to win, Donohue retired from driving, but then just as abruptly un-retired to take one more challenge: leading Penske’s assault on F1. At Austria, just two races into the 1975 season, Donohue crashed in the morning warm-up. And he was gone. Just like that. Donohue’s fans—everyone was a Donohue fan—were left only with their memories, and the book. They weren’t enough.