The Stainless Steel Carrot
An Auto Racing Odyssey – Revisited
We recently discovered a few brand-new copies of the 2012 edition of this book. They are only available here, and once they’re gone, that’s it. Signed by the author Sylvia Wilkinson and driver John Morton.
Racing is an expensive sport, in real dollars and personal costs alike. Stainless Steel Carrot is a non-fiction account of eighteen months in the life of professional driver John Morton who is at a turning point in his career. He consistently wins races in his Datsun sedan while waiting for his chance to prove himself in a faster car. When that chance at last arrives, neither the money nor the technical expertise available is adequate, and the formula car – the “carrot” dangled in front of his nose for so long – evaporates into a tangled, twisted mass. This book brings into sharp focus the complexities of a sport where winning requires delicately balancing dollars and daring.
Lifelong racing enthusiast/motoring correspondent/novelist Sylvia Wilkinson picked her subject from half a dozen drivers she watched and timed in competition during a number of rates. With Morton’s assent, she then traveled with his team, Brock Racing Enterprises, back and forth across the country for most of the 1971 and all of the ’72 racing seasons.
The result is twofold. First there is the revealing profile of the driver and what makes him tick. We see him from many angles, through his own eyes, through those of his wife, his brother, his boss and the men who put his cars into shape before each race. Then there is the strikingly immediate depiction of the American racing scene -of the tracks from Laguna Seca to Lime Rock, of the racetrack crowds, of the tensions in the pit, of the race people after hours, of the races themselves -by Wilkinson as an observer and by Morton as he drives his way to a trio of championships.
When published originally in 1973, The Stainless Steel Carrot was Sylvia Wilkinson’s fourth book. Her first three were all novels that earned critical acclaim for her skills creating vivid characters, sensitively portrayed. Those skills, readily apparent on the pages of The Stainless Steel Carrot: An Auto Racing Odyssey, have again been brought to bear with this edition, including its all-new 45-page chapter in which Wilkinson revisits many of the people involved as she brings the story current to today.
John Morton: “We kid a lot in the shop about the stainless steel carrot, like a donkey going after something that you can’t obtain but you keep going after it because it is dangling there to motivate you. Pete’s big plans for the future were BRE’s stainless steel carrot; a race car lent itself nicely to that visual image. We all got our special carrots. The carrot could change or get bigger and shinier. Then on my 30th birthday, Pete surprised me in the shop with a Lotus T70B Formula 5000 car.”
“Wow! What a fantastic, fascinating read! The Stainless Steel Carrot, a chronicle of John Morton’s days as an up-and-coming racer in 1971 and 1972, tells not just Morton’s story, but the story of all race car drivers: talent, ambition, perseverance, luck, and a little bit of rain can change the course of history for anyone. Sylvia Wilkinson’s brilliant book is as relevant now as it was when it was first published in 1973, and it should be read by aspiring racers as well as all readers who love a captivating story.” — Garth Stein, Author, The Art of Racing in the Rain.
“Sylvia’s focused study of a single race driver and his team was a strong, worthwhile read in the early 1970s, when it was new and fresh. Its inherent values remain, but today it offers something more: perspective. Four decades of frenetic evolution have changed racing almost beyond recognition; to re-read Stainless Steel Carrot is to fly back to what now seems a golden moment in time and find yourself murmuring, yes… that’s how it was.” — Pete Lyons
“The Stainless Steel Carrot certainly shows that all stories don’t have a happy ending. Racing’s a tough sport and the book shows that. If you read between the lines however you’ll see racing’s no different than real life. People make things happen, everyone has an important role, and destinies are worked for, not inherited.” — Mark Donohue, 1973
- Price: US$200.00
- Publisher: Brown Fox Books
- Language: English
- Hardcover: 368 pages
- Dimensions: 6.25 x 1.25 x 9.25 inches