I'm excited to announce details of my latest book, BEAST.
It will hit the streets in mid-May, and is being published by Octane Press of Austin, Texas, the company which also published my previous book, "In The Red." It will be available in hardcover and all eBook formats. (The hardcover release will follow several weeks later in the U.K.) You can pre-order the book directly from Octane Press at: https://www.octanepress.com/book/beast
This is the largest and most complex project I've ever taken on, and I'm very proud of the finished results. It is the best work I've done in my eclectic career, and I hope you will enjoy it half as much as I have.
In the coming weeks, I'll have more stories and details, and might even share a chapter or two here to whet your appetite. You can also get details and updates from my Twitter feed at: http://twitter.com/JadeGurss and via Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jade.gurss
BEAST is the never-before-told story of the greatest secret in Indy 500 history. It tells of the epic effort to design and build a new engine from a clean sheet of paper for one race - the 1994 Indianapolis 500 - in a nearly impossible timeframe and in total secrecy. It was designed and built by Ilmor Engineering Ltd. in the U.K., and then tested and raced by Marlboro Team Penske, Roger Penske's ultra-successful Indy car team.
The 1,000 horsepower engine was unveiled several weeks before practice began at the Speedway in 1994, and has been called "the atomic bomb" of auto racing. This was truly the last, great innovation at the 500, and could never happen again in this era of spec cars and spec engines.
While many others have written and speculated about the engine, this is the first time a true insider (ahem... me) is able to tell the stories no one else has revealed, as 2014 marks the 20th anniversary of the race. Because the engine was one-and-done before it was legislated out of existence, many legends, myths and tall-tales grew up around it, but the truths revealed in the book are even more grand than the myths. While I thought I knew the stories when this project began, it seemed I was shocked or surprised with each interview or batch of documents.
Roger Penske is always looking for what he calls the "Unfair Advantage," and this engine provided him with such. It came about after engine rules at the 500 were relaxed in an attempt to help American manufacturers and independent engine builders ("the little guys") have some hope of competing with the dominant engines from Ford-Cosworth and Ilmor (previously badged as Chevrolet engines). Penske and Ilmor cofounders Mario Illien and Paul Morgan decided that a specially built powerplant could be designed and built (at great effort and expense) to the exact specifications of the relaxed rules. But, they only had precious months to do so.
While die hard fans will know details of the engine - known to the world as the Mercedes-Benz 500I - and the results from its one and only race, the book is presented as a mystery/suspense novel that doesn't reveal the results until the final chapters. I hope to bring the reader along day-by-day as the pressure, tension and gut-wrenching drama increases all the way to the final laps of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
This is much more than a racing book: it tells the stories of those who worked around the clock on two continents to create the powerful work of art. Their massive brain power, subterfuge and sleight of hand belongs in a spy novel rather than a sports book. Their decisions and methods could fill a business or leadership book.
The story winds through amazing moments including World War II fighter planes, software hacking, frozen winter testing, a secret garage named "the Taj Mahal," the death of a great Formula 1 world champion and even supersonic jets. This all was taking place amidst the political turmoil that was roiling as Tony George, president of the Speedway, announced his intention to start his own Indy car series. And all of that takes place before they even reached the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where the real speed and drama take hold.
Only three drivers were ever able to feel the full power of the engine, and it was named "The Beast" by the legendary Emerson Fittipaldi after his first test session. Fittipaldi was joined on the Team Penske roster by Paul Tracy and Al Unser Jr. The latter duo did most of the track testing under extremely brutal conditions leading up to the race.
Victory? You'll just have to read the book!
Watch for the next blog entry: Why the Beast? Why Now? Why Me?