Red Racer Books: What every motorsport fan needs

A fantastic project that is fun for everyone.

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Red Racer Books, created by Andy Amendola, is a project that aims to inform and entertain young fans of motorsport.

Red Racer Books
Red Racer Books: ABCs of Racing and ABC de Carreras. (Photo Credit: Abby Bathurst)

I had the pleasure of interviewing Andy recently for FormulaNerds on our News From The Nerds podcast. Andy Amendola is an avid fan of Formula 1. Living in Miami, he has experienced the recent rise in popularity of the sport in the United States. Having gotten into Formula 1 through Drive To Survive, he has seen the impact the Netflix series has had. So much so, that his two children are also fans of the sport.

Being a parent of kids interested in the sport was difficult in terms of finding kid-suitable books or ways to learn about every aspect of Formula 1. This lack of access to child-friendly, informative motorsport books sparked an idea for Andy.

And Red Racer Books was born.

What is Red Racer Books?

Essentially, it is a “book series about racing” aimed to inform kids about Formula 1. The mission of Red Racer Books is:

“To give kids in the US and beyond a global perspective on sportsmanship, diversity, science and technology.”

The first book is the ‘ABCs of Racing’, which is available to buy now. Within this guide, there are 34 pages of F1 terms and explanations with vivid illustrations. Each word relates to the sport, whether it be a part of the car like “halo” or an aspect of engineering like “aerodynamics”. The illustrations, crafted by Wei Ren, are influenced by real sights within the world of F1.

One thing that Andy wanted to focus on was not only creating a book about Formula 1 for kids, but also for adults. In our podcast interview, he mentioned how parents can sometimes read a book to their children, but not necessarily enjoy it. The “zone-out effect” is something that Andy wanted to overcome and change to a “reading-with-your-kids-type book”. So whilst Red Racer Books is aimed at three to eight-year-olds, adults can also enjoy learning more about the sport with their children.

The tipping point

As a bookworm and writer myself, I know creating a book is not easy. A lot of research and dedication is required to put pen to paper, before even considering having a finished product.

For Andy, coming into the fanbase of Formula 1 through Drive To Survive kickstarted his, and his family’s, passion for the sport. But the “tipping point” was attending the US Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas last year.

Andy commented on his experience there and how he got to see “the whole show up close and personal”. It was at this race that he realised his book needed to happen, especially with the growing audience in the United States and also Latin America.

He put the pedal to the metal to get Red Racer Books created, but it wasn’t all plain sailing.

The challenges

It was interesting listening to Andy talk about the journey of creation for his project and the difficulties that he encountered. He said that:

“I think the biggest challenge was really sticking to the plan.”

He took a self-publishing route to ensure the book was ready for people to buy for the inaugural Miami Grand Prix and ensure it was done “right”.

Self-publishing seems rather daunting, and whilst that may be true, it does have its benefits. Andy spoke about the “full control” he had over the finished product. However, at the same time, having full creative control means you also have to assume all the risks involved as well. The “nagging doubt” visited Andy a lot throughout the creation, but that didn’t stop him, and I for one am so pleased with the finished product.

ABC de Carreras

One of the things that make Red Racer Books is the multicultural and multilingual aspects. Formula 1 is an international sport with many nationalities and mother tongues on the grid and races on nearly every continent.

The first book is not only in English, but in Spanish as well, called ‘ABC de Carreras’. Appealing to the Spanish audience is key in this modern world with the rising popularity of the language. Whilst Red Racer Books achieves this, it wasn’t easy to produce a Spanish version.

I speak some Spanish myself and I can definitely say I don’t envy Andy having to come up with alternatives to the F1 terms to fit the alphabet. Translating the book was “a lot more difficult” than Andy expected, so his children helped him brainstorm to fill in “a lot of gaps” in the Spanish equivalent.

Obviously, in Spanish, some words are different and begin with a different letter to English. One of the main problems is that the letter ‘W’ isn’t that common in Spanish, so trying to come up with a Spanish equivalent was rather difficult. Thankfully, Andy and his editor managed to conjure up an F1-related W-word, which just so happens to be Andy’s favourite page in both books.

I won’t tell you what the words are for ‘W’, or what the illustrations are of…you’ll just have to read the books to find out!

What’s next?

At the moment, Red Racer Books consists of the ABCs of Racing, in both English and Spanish. However, there is more to come.

In the podcast, Andy mentioned that the original idea was the current book, but it has since transformed into a whole series of books for kids about racing.

If you have had a look at his website, you will have noticed two characters involved: Red and Roxy. Red is the racer in Red Racer Books, but as all fans of the sport know, engineers play a monumental role – and that is Roxy. The ‘W’ letter in ‘ABCs of Racing’ introduces readers to her.

In the ‘ABCs of Racing’, there is limited character development and Red Racer Books is only “scratching the surface”. Book two, which is already in the works, will focus on the characters more and extend the diversity included. This book will focus more on the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) side of the sport, with a deeper dive into the new cars. More translations will be coming in the future, as well as books about other motorsports, like IndyCar and Rally.

If you don’t yet have a copy of Red Racer Books, you definitely should. It’s an innovative and fun project for every motorsport family.

Feature Image: Red Racer Books on Twitter

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