I get notions every once in a while. I acquire biblio-obsessions and bore friends and family with trivia, history and other assorted minutiae on my topic du jour. I’ve been transfixed by Jane Austen, fascinated by waiters and now I’m working a NASCAR compulsion.
Yes, you heard right. NASCAR. Can’t blame me, though. I was utterly riveted by One Helluva Ride: How NASCAR Swept the Nation by Liz Clarke. I was first drawn to the book by the author. “A woman writing about NASCAR? I gotta look into this.”
I’m glad I did. Clarke writes compellingly about this quintessential American sport. Every time I thought I could put it down, I’d start another chapter and get a glimpse into the tough lives of these colorful and endearing driver-athletes. The chapters on stockcar racing’s biggest names, Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon are absorbing. Clarke writes with compassion about the sport’s terrible loss of Earnhardt, NASCAR’s self-professed “bad boy”. He was a hard-driving family man with heart.
There were two other NASCAR themed books sitting on the New Book shelf beside Clarke’s. No doubt my Library ordered them to wheedle our resident NASCAR fan, Joey, into reading.
With a little less reverence and a lot more cynicism, Mark Yost examines the business of advertising and NASCAR in The 200-MPH Billboard: The Inside Story of How Big Money Changed NASCAR. Yost has done impeccable research, but I can’t say I care for his tone very much. It’s very informal and tinged with condescension and snark in places.
Finally, a scientist looks at NASCAR in The Physics of NASCAR: How to make Steel+Gas+Rubber=Speed. An accessible and intriguing look at science and the science of driving written by another woman, Diandra Leslie-Pelecky.
None of my mini-reading manias are complete without throwing in a novel. The Art of Racing in the Rain, a debut from Garth Stein, features a philosophical dog with a penchant for Formula One racing.
History, business, science, literature. I have collected the checkered flag in this subject area.