Racing Hell – The Hidden Truths of Motorsport

Racing Hell

(Veteran motor racer Peter Cate has compiled his learnings from more than thirty racing seasons into a recently published book, ‘Racing Hell – The Hidden Truths of Motorsport’. I asked Peter to provide an overview of his book and his intentions behind writing it. Mark)

‘Racing Hell’ is the book I wish I’d read in the early days of my motor racing career. It’s a candid, behind-the-scenes motor sport exposé for ambitious racers to better prepare for the realities of a career on the grid and for serious enthusiasts to understand what’s really going on behind the pit garage door. I was able to draw upon my experiences after so many (and still counting!) years at the wheel with top-level teams, sharing some of the very best and worst features of our sport as I have seen them. These are revelations hidden deep behind the smoke and mirrors of motor sport.

Originally, I intended the book to be an unpublished memoir, but as the early drafts took shape and I dared to discuss the project with other folks, I realised it was a much bigger deal than I had thought. Reactions, even from people deeply involved in the sport, ranged from shocked to enraged! I realised there was an authentic and valuable story that could be both entertaining and useful for anyone serious about motorsport.

Once I’d made that shift more towards an essential guide, with my story as the thread of reality running through it, many other truths and well-guarded secrets had to be included that are never usually openly discussed. You may think you know racing, but these are the things you get to see only when you are involved as a competitor in the sport. Honestly, there are also things I’ve included that I wish I didn’t know. Those are just as valuable for any racer or enthusiast to read about, however uncomfortable. Nothing got watered down in terms of its usefulness – it’s all in there, even if the odd name may have been changed!

With all my years of detailed notes, the real challenge was to filter out all the content that would not be beneficial, or would be dull or repetitive for the reader. Nobody wants to read a chronological racing history of Peter Cate, not even me! But at the same time, I was determined not sell out and write something purely for entertainment value. To be useful, it all had to be authentic and true, but that does mean there are deeply personal revelations, even embarrassing or painful admissions on my part.

Driving race cars is tricky at best and dangerous at worst. Underneath the veneer of confidence, driver’s fears and frustrations represent a huge mental challenge that must be dealt with, every corner of every lap, every race, every season, to get anywhere close to the front. Until now, that hasn’t been talked about enough. The book delves into even more taboo topics from behind the pit garage door, including the fools and fraudsters of the paddock and even the outrageous skulduggery of saboteurs which can literally make racing hell, one of the reasons for the book’s title.

It’s not all bad though! You’ll read about incredible things that happened to me or to people around me, the awesome cars I’ve been fortunate to race, the amazing teams, the super-talented world-class team mates, the subtleties of car set-up and the breathtaking tracks that were the scenes of so many challenging contests. These experiences that made me a more competitive and more complete driver are all worth sharing, together with the camaraderie and wicked humour of the paddock!

A book of this nature also must acknowledge the importance of sponsor partnerships, the real fuel in any competitive race car and the source of most of the unfairness in our sport. Realising this early, I proactively developed vital relationships that have sustained my driving career far longer than most. By revealing my path, I hope talented racers can find and sustain support for the breaks they deserve.

‘Racing Hell’ is dedicated not only ‘To all who wish to progress in our sport’, but also ‘to all who wish our sport to progress’ because as far as a driver can, I’ve also scrutinised the wider sport itself, especially its regulations and how they are applied, after finding I share with many folks a growing dissatisfaction about the direction of some racing categories in recent years. I’ve been fortunate in my career to have enjoyed many years of endurance racing at the ‘Green Hell’, the original Nürburgring Nordschleife. For me the challenge of this track and type of racing is a yardstick for other racing categories, providing a level of entertainment for drivers and spectators that modern tracks are failing to replicate. The book goes into why that should be and how motorsport in general can recover what’s been lost with suggested tweaks to track designs and technical regulations that seem to resonate well with readers. The intention is to draw attention to better quality cut-and-thrust racing, which has to be at the core of the sport. By way of an example, an immersive onboard night lap at the Nürburgring 24 hours (written to take as long to read as it would to drive in reality) has proved to be a fitting conclusion!

‘Racing Hell’ evolved into 24 chapters, and much like a 24-hour endurance race, the journey to the finish line was quite different than I imagined on the out lap! The aim of this book was to go where ‘Drive To Survive’ style shows do not dare, to strip away the glitz and glamour, the contrived and the commercial, the monotonous and the manipulated to reveal the reality of life at the heart of motor racing. Released only a few short months ago, the positive reviews and messages from all over the world have been overwhelming, validating the intentions of ‘Racing Hell’ to be a useful resource for drivers and fans alike. As one reader commented, “Motorsport will never be the same for me again!”


‘A fascinating read and a must for anyone with a passion for motorsport who wants to know more about life on track’  Sir Chris Hoy, Six-Time Olympic Gold Medallist and Racing Driver.

‘Peter falls into a formidable group of no-nonsense, highly-focused racers. His insights are worth their weight in gold’  Alex Brundle, Racing Driver

‘Peter’s fusion of memoir, history and seriously informed analysis cuts no corners and glosses over no cracks’  Lauren Sneath, GPFans

‘Peter’s motorsport life lessons and thoughtful rationale are delivered with a refreshingly frank and engaging honesty’  John Hindhaugh, Sportscar Broadcaster

Peter Cate
Author: Peter Cate

Peter Cate is a veteran British endurance racer with the most Nürburgring 24 hours starts and highest win ratio, Peter is best known for his ten years as an Aston Martin factory driver and his prior BTCC successes. His experiences are the basis for his book, ‘Racing Hell – The Hidden Truths of Motorsport’.