Who'd have thought that a super-ordinary Grand Prix car-and-sexarama would present a seminar in pretentiously clumsy writing? But Daley, away from home ground (To Kill a Cop, Target Blue) and apparently self-conscious about his paper-thin material, is out to remind us that he's a real writer. So, when American tourist-virgin Elizabeth begins her career as an auto-circuit groupie by jumping into bed with suavely plastic Alex Cavelli in Sicily, her shucked clothes ""hang as empty as promises."" They're also ""as formal as a signed contract"" and ""as loud as a cry for help."" Liz next hangs around Monte Carlo, waiting for Cavelli, but he's still attached to a bosomy actress, so she keeps platonic company with stoical champion Jack Blakemore, the racer whom Cavelli's determined to beat. (""Defeats are not like warts. They cannot be removed."") And, after the customary jabber about why-men-risk-their-stupid-necks, they all regroup at Le Mans. (""Triumph is like water."") For readers with a special interest in speed and gears, the painstaking descriptions of the actual tactics and sensations of racing may sometimes rise above the murky similes. But even the fiercest four-wheel fans will put on the brakes when they run up against ""Her heart lands on the table like a crowbar.