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Book Review: Sunday Money

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NASCAR is huge. And, as Jeff MacGregor points out in this book, even the non-fans are impacted.

Your batteries and your beer, your cookies and your corn flakes are probably running the low groove in this week’s race. Your last oil change or pack of smokes or dip of chew paid for some racer’s shocks or valve springs or cylinder head.

The thing that I liked the most about this book is watching MacGregor drawn into the NASCAR culture almost unwillingly, and he’s taking us along for the ride.

From the moment the motor home is purchased, MacGregor takes us on a road trip into NASCAR culture AND history. On the way to Daytona, we learn about Bill France, Sr. We learn of Carl Kiekhaefer (the first ‘businessman owner’ in NASCAR) on the way to Rockingham. We learn things about NASCAR that we never thought about, because we never thought of NASCAR as something with a history. And that history is fascinating.

We also get glimpses of NASCAR culture. We meet “Ernie Irvin’s brother.” We hear the chants from the turn three infield at Daytona. And we can feel the raw emotion as people stand before the statue of their fallen hero, Dale Ernhardt.

We also get a glimpse into what makes these men want to do this. MacGregor takes part in the Richard Petty Driving Experience, and records the emotion and the adrenalin rush as he heads around the track at 130 MPH. Picky readers will balk at the sentence structure in this section, but the run-on sentences and fast pacing illustrate what is happening perfectly. I personally love when authors can change their pacing to match what’s going on in the narrative, and MacGregor does this perfectly.

MacGregor followed NASCAR across the country in a motor home. After reading about his experiences, I find myself wanting to do the same. We don’t have to do it, though — all we have to do is read the book, and we are there. The book may not make any new NASCAR fans, but it will help non-fans understand the fans a lot better — and may help to diminish some of the stereotypes that people have of NASCAR fans. I know at the race I attended in Atlanta several years ago, for every redneck drunk on Jack Daniels at the track there was a businessman in expensive jeans and polo shirt. The one thing all fans have in common is “The need for speed.”

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About Warren Kelly

  • This book review has been selected for Advance.net. You’ll be able to find this and other Blog Critics reviews at such places as Cleveland.com’s Book Reviews column.