THE HISTORY OF MOTOR RACING, by William Boddy (Putnam's, $17.95). As editor of the impeccably British automobile racing magazine Motor Sport, Boddy probably knows more about motor racing than any one else. His interest in the subject may have waned, along with that of many enthusiasts, sometime in the early '60s when racing cars began looking less like cars and more like motorized cigarette boxes. The History of Motor Racing makes full use of Boddy's expertise until about 1960, where he is helped by a ringer to bring motor racing up to the present day. The result is a thoroughly readable, delightfully attractive book, ideally suited to the Grand Prix racing enthusiast.

CLASSIC RACING CARS, by Cyril Posthumus (Rand McNally, $12.95). Although the graphics are not pretty enough and it is far too small to be useful as an item of interior decor on a coffee table, Classic Racing Cars is destined to become an immediate favorite for its brief, authoritative profiles of the 40 most important Grand Prix cars of all time, which will make it a classic reference work.

AMERICAN CLASSIC CARS and EUROPEAN CLASSIC CARS, by Henry Rasmussen (Picturama/-Schoken, $24.50). These are two of the best looking automobile books ever. The photographs are extraordinary, and the printing and paper quality high. Rasmusssen seems to be working on a sort of Automobile Yearly which he calls "The Survivors," with a new book in time for each Christmas. The articles on each car are aimed more at the particular vehicle than a model or marque, and he shows more interest in the present owners and restorers than is usual. Unfortunately, the prose is often as lush as the photographs, but these books are for looking - not for reading.

THE MOTOR CAR: An Illustrated International History, by David Dugress Wise (Putnam's $20). The emphasis must be on the history, which is extraordinarily complete. The international aspects are limited to a few pictures of oddly Europeanized American cars of the '30s, and the whole automobile industry is looked upon with a distinctly British eye. The pre-1900 history of the automobile is extensively investigated and illustrated with many attractive and unusual prints and pictures.

THE AUTOMOBILE IN AMERICA, by Stephen W. Sears (American Heritage, $34.95). Charles Sheeler's industrial landscapes, the Model "T" Ford, the Roaring Twenties and the Depression, strikes, roadside camps, two world wars and the drive in movies - all are part of The Automobile in America, more history than automobile, a thorough compendium of what the automobile has done to America. Sears's book takes us down the last 80 years of American history, eyes on the road, two hands firmly on the wheel. CAPTION: Illustration, From "The Triumph of [WORD ILLEGIBLE] I" (Dover Publication)