Wide-eyed and grinning, 20 cars line up for a race--and they're off, burning robber, swerving into walls and each other, shedding parts, crawling off the track with tongues hanging out. ""Which car's first across the line?/Hurrah! It's driver number 9!"" In illustrations created first on a computer, Murphy puts a wonderful range of expressions and vivid jellybean colors on his autos, but leaves crews, spectators, and vehicles floating just above the ground, and despite tidy sets of tire tracks and boldface ""sound effects,"" the cars have little sense of motion. While the book has some value for preschoolers as practice in number recognition, the static illustrations put it outside a winner's circle that would include Thacher Hurd's Zoom City (p. 197), Tres Seymour's Smash-Up Crash-Up Derby (1995), or Donald Crews's Bicycle Race (1985).