From upstate New York to the glitter of global racing

We really don’t want to spoil the story here, so we’ll just say that no matter how inspiring this saga is, it still stands as a cautionary tale for anyone endeavoring to get into motor racing in any significant way. It involves considerable risk and the potential for heartbreak. Most people don’t talk about Monaco and Rochester, New York, in the same breath, but the topic of this intriguing book actually got to live it. Fred Opert almost singlehandedly put Rochester on the map of global motorsport by become a dealer in competition cars and mentoring an impressive array of young drivers who went on to become very well known in the sport. This is that story.

Opert was a kid from Massachusetts who loved fast cars and made his rep in Rochester by importing race cars from Elva, Chevron and Brabham, and actually drove in the first-ever IMSA event, at Pocono in 1969. More than anyone else, Opert gets credit for conceptualizing the concept for renting race cars to drivers who brought money. As this attractively packaged 160-page softcover explains, the idea was good enough to get Opert all the way to Europe as an independent team owner in open-cockpit racing, providing early rides to a host of worthies who got all the way to Formula 1 including Alan Jones, Alain Prost, Tom Pryce and Rolf Stommelen, all of whom drove Opert cars. That list later grew to include America’s own Bobby Rahal, F1 world champion Keke Rosberg and eventually, Rosberg’s son Nico, before Opert passed on in 2016. Want to make it in racing? The Fred Opert Story, priced at $23.52 from Veloce Publishing in the United Kingdom, will tell you what’s really involved.

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