Racing books specifically for the pre-teen, pre-licensed but speed-oriented boys are rare. This incorporates the action and the humor to attract them, but goes careening off the track. Frequently books about cars bog down with cautionary sermonettes. This one, which places a thirteen year old boy with no previous knowledge of driving or the mechanics of an engine into the driver's seat of a midget racer capable of up to 60 mph, fails to mention any safety considerations and completely overlooks the possibility of accidents. When a friend borrows the car and mistakenly drives it into a public highway, the police who stop him only joke with him as they lead him back. The hero, Tommy, seems very young for his age, but the car is seen as a panacea for his adolescence: after his first run--""Here was a boy just beginning to feel his strength as a man.... Tommy would grow with that racer. He would grow inside where growing counted most."" Even less mature, apparently, are the adults in Tommy's life--they include his father (he is so bemused but thrilled by the sight of the racer that he easily rationalizes its purchase into the family budget), his bunglingly concerned mother, his idiosyncratic mechanic, and an interested but oafish garbage collector. The exception is racing star Ray Shapiro with his ""pleasant, serene face."" Tommy runs a close second in the big race, but his book won't place among recommended junior sports novels.