________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 1 . . . . September 1, 2006


On the Limit. (Redline Racing Series).

Anthony Hampshire.
Markham, ON: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2006.
127 pp., pbk., $8.95.
ISBN 1-55041-568-9.

Subject Heading:
Automobile racing-Juvenile Fiction.

Grades 5-8 / Ages 10-13.

Review by Ellie Contursi.

*** /4


It started with a few large raindrops on my helmet visor as I cruised back to our pit. By the time I had unbuckled and climbed out of the Swift, the sky had turned angry, with massive black clouds churning everywhere. A fierce wind drove the rain down in cold, hard sheets, and everyone ran to find some shelter. All, except the poor Trans-Am drivers who were just starting their qualifying session. They would have to do it in a rainstorm. We sprinted for the safety of Sophie's huge motor home.

Given the choice of racing in the rain and having both front teeth drilled clean through without any freezing, most race drivers would go for the dental work. Not all, but most. Driving a normal race car in heavy rain is bad enough, but at least you're dry and can keep the windshield clear with the wipers and defrosters. Driving an open-wheeled Formula Atlantic car in a downpour, around a wet racetrack, is worse -- a lot worse. First, you sit in an open cockpit with no windshield, which guarantees that you will be instantly and thoroughly soaked. You are basically a sponge with a helmet. Second, you have to squint ahead through your helmet visor, which has no wiper to keep it clear, often fogs up and is always covered with wet spray. Third, in the rain you have a lot less grip, so the car is a handful every second. And worst of all, open-wheeled race cars have no fenders, so at almost any speed they throw huge rooster tails of spray high into the air. If you are unfortunate enough to be behind another car, you're driving almost blind at-one-hundred-plus miles per hour.


As the second title in the “Redline Racing Series,” On the Limit once again makes its mark with a great fast paced story. In this novel, we catch up with young Eddie Stewart and his racing team after they placed second in the Milwaukee Formula Race. Author Hampshire does an excellent job of recapping the highlights of the first novel and making the reader familiar with who does what on the race team.

     Eddie and his team are now in Toronto, preparing for their next race. This time, the race will take place on the streets of Toronto, close to Exhibition Place. It means tuning the car, the Swift, specially for this type of race. Luckily, Eddie has two top notch race engineers behind him as well as a crew chief who pulls the team together. Eddie finds that he has an edge over the competition when his genius engineer, Rick, builds an “onboard data acquisition” system allowing them to fine tune the car for the race in minutes rather than hours. Unfortunately, his competition knows about this edge. The day before the race, Eddie is confident that he will do well, but when he goes to make one final check on the race car, he discovers that the wing has been stolen. The wing, according to the handy glossary provided at the back of the book, "direct[s] airflow that pass over the race car, pushing it down on to the track." Without the wing, the car cannot race. Although Eddie has an enemy in the race world, he also has a friend. Stephen Veilleux, a race driver from France, bails Eddie out of the tight spot and gives him the wing he needs to race. Stephen had four spares after all and is a very good sport. Quickly, the engineers attach and adjust the new wing to the race car, and Eddie is ready to go. In an exciting finish to the story on race day, Eddie encounters a rainy surface, an accident on the track, and makes a quick decision to change from rain tires to dry track "slicks." After some amazing driving, Eddie places first in the race.

     On the Limit is a thoroughly enjoyable read, especially for those racing fans, both boy and girl alike. Anthony Hampshire reveals a bit more about the characters, their personalities and relationships to each other in this second instalment to the series and includes some humour as well. In particular, the opening scene is quite funny. Once again, the author provides a glossary of race terms at the end of the novel.

     Definitely recommended for public and school libraries.


Ellie Contursi is a librarian in London, ON.


To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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ISSN 1201-9364
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