Book Review : The Last Open Road

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Review: The Last Open Road by B.S. Levy

Reviewed by Daniel


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posted 2/4/2003


This book has been around for a while now, having originally been printed
in 1994. The author, Burt Levy, states that no publisher was even remotely
interested in his book about sports car racers in the 1950's. They were
even less impressed by the fact that it was a FICTIONAL account of sports
car racing in the 1950's. "No market", they said and "car
people don't read". So Burt went ahead and published the book himself,
using word of mouth to promote it. At last count this first book in what
is now a series was on its 4th printing and still going strong. Better
yet, the author has now written two follow up books: "Montezuma's
Ferrari" and "The Fabulous Trashwagon".

I don't know about you, but I'm bummed out about being born in 1962.
You see, I missed the entire 1950's and early 1960's sportscar and road
racing revolution. The days when you could pry the hubcaps off your XK
120 and drive to Watkins Glen, Elkhart Lake or Sebring to RACE and then
drive home. No roll bars, no seat belts, no helmets, no barriers or run
off areas...... no brains either. But what fun it would have been!

Burt "B.S." Levy has written a wonderful series of books detailing
the trials and tribulations of a New Jersey teenager named Buddy Palumbo,
who by sheer luck and no small amount of God-given talent for repairing
foreign sports cars, gets to experience first hand the blossoming sports
car racing scene in 1950's America. It is fiction, make no mistake, but
Levy has interspersed an amazing amount of real people, places and cars
that seem to make the story come to life and make you feel....... well,
it makes you feel

like you're really there. Just the thing for us vintage racing types who
close our eyes while driving and imagine its 1954 and we're driving a
BRG Jaguar C-type at Elkhart Lake, Phil Hill right on our back bumper........
aahhh, to dream!

And its not all about just cars either. I'm not Italian and I'm not Catholic,
but the author's description of Buddy's teenage Italian goddess girlfriend
with the iron-clad brassiere made me feel like I was in the back seat
with them. Levy's attention to detail and ability to call a spade a spade
makes for some interesting reading, to wit:

<< Let me explain to you how it is with automobile mechanics.
I personally divvy them up into three distinct categories. First off,
you've got your basic Shadetree Butchers. Most Butchers are home-garage
amateurs who only bring their cars to a professional after they've already
made a godawful mess out of whatever they were trying to fix in the first
place. Butchers can be counted on to snap studs, shear bolts, strip threads,
wedge bearing races in cockeyed, and turn every electrical problem into
a stinking, smoldering glob of molten plastic and charred insulation.
No self-respecting mechanic likes working around a Butcher, and cleaning
up after one is even worse.

One giant step from the Butcher is the Parts Replacer. Parts Replacers
know their way around an automobile all right, but they don't comprehend
AT ALL how car stuff really operates. To them, every mechanical component
is like a sealed vault filled with some kind of rare magical pudding that
makes it work. So they invariably start yanking off old parts and throwing
new ones at a problem until it either goes away or the car's owner declares
bankruptcy. God certainly must have loved Parts Replacers, because he
made so many of them.

And then you've got the Fixers. The maestros. The Real McCoy. Fixers
can diagnose a hiccup in your carburetor or a death rattle in your crankcase
just like a medical doctor, and then go in so slick and clean that when
they're done, you can't even tell the car's been worked on. Except that
it runs better than ever. A Fixer can MAKE parts. "It's all done,
Mr. Jones. The choke cable was sticking because it was going over-center,
so I made a new bracket to bring it in at a better angle."

Those guys are hard to find. >>

To buy the books, visit the website

Read them in order, you won't regret it! I'm anxious to see the latest
installment myself "The Fabulous Trashwagon", I can't wait to
see what our hero Buddy is up to now!

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