Published in 2007, Alexander Roy delivers a high-speed page turner in The Driver: My Dangerous Pursuit of Speed and Truth in the Outlaw Racing World. In 325 pages, The Driver takes you on Alex Roy’s almost decade-long adventure into a world most of us have never heard of – or saw it merely as a Hollywood fantasy.
The automotive universe is full of different subcultures, and motorsport has its own galaxy of them. You have drag racers, drift racers, Formula 1, NASCAR, off-roading, and go-karts, to name just a few. However, within these seemingly different worlds sharing the same passion for competition on wheels there is a select few that strive for a greater challenge…a dangerous, illogical challenge that has no reward but is on the bucket list of many. These people are endurance rally drivers, highway outlaws, scofflaws, adrenaline junkies, speeders – a public menace. They go by different names based on how those who know about their world see fit.
Who could have guessed that classic road movies like the Gumball Rally (1976) and the Cannonball Run (1981) were actually based on true events? The fear of ambitious copy cats and their legal consequences is my guess as to why that marketing phrase wasn’t written at the bottom of these films. But those who know their automotive history are aware that people have been trying to drive across the United States as fast as possible since the invention of the automobile.
The Driver is about Alex Roy’s introduction into the world of endurance rally driving in the Gumball 3000 as he searches for a mysterious, unknown person known simply as “The Driver.” Beginning with his first run against the clock in a lap around Manhattan, to his first time in the Gumball 3000 in 2003, Roy details the adrenaline-fueled pursuit that is the endurance rally. But that is just a build-up to the race of Alex Roy’s life when they take on the Transcontinental Cannonball record from New York to Los Angeles set in 1983 by David Dem and Doug Turner, 32 hours 7 minutes.
Without giving away any spoilers, The Driver holds your attention as you read, wondering how a writer-turned-endurance driver takes on a herd of millionaire characters in Holy Grail supercars using a keen sense of staging and a pre-owned M5. If it wasn’t for the fact that the proof can be seen on Gumball 3000 DVD’s and the film of his cross-country run in 32hours 7minutes, one could easily label this book as fiction.
Ultimately, The Driver is a story about a bond between a father and his son. Alex Roy’s father, Henry Roy, shared with his son the story of a dangerous cross-country race that many wanted to do but only a handful actually tried. A story, an idea, a challenge that would consume Alex Roy’s time, resources, and nearly his sanity in order to find the answer to the mystery his father left him with, “Find the driver.”
If you love cars, a great story with comedic relief, unbelievably real characters and a tale of overcoming incredible odds, The Driver should be on your reading list. After spending a week reading this book I almost felt sad as I placed it on my shelf because I wanted to know more. I now, also, have a new obsession with racing the ultimate opponent, one that spares no mercy and fears no man; time. I highly recommend this book to anyone who appreciates the adventure and skill of driving at the limit.
Now, close the laptop and burn some gas…