The Limit: Life and Death on the 1961 Grand Prix Circuit, by Michael Cannell, is a great book that provides a window into the psyches of the drivers who were involved. He is especially fascinated with American Phil Hill, who was a nervous, reluctant racer at first (and perhaps throughout), but who was compelled to race in spite of his understanding and fear of all that could go wrong. His Formula One championship went down in the racing world as sort of an afterthought to the toll of deaths that season, culminating in the death of title rival and Ferrari teammate Wolfgang von Trips in the final (championship-determining) race of the 1961 season.
The information that left me gasping at the start of the book was that by some calculations, racing drivers had only about a 33% survival rate in those days, which were right before the advent of seatbelts and other useful safety equipment.
I'm clearly a student of the current-day racecar driver, especially what motivates him or her to do what they do, in spite of risks and danger. Cannell's book gave me outstanding historical perspective on how far the sport (and risks) have come. I highly recommend it.