Books by Ernie Irvan

Released: Feb. 24, 1999

A stock-car racing hero who came back from horrible injuries sullies his image somewhat in this thinly veiled screed against them what wronged him. In the early 1990s, Irvan (please don't call him "Swervin"), was one of the hottest pilots on the NASCAR circuit. Winner of the 1991 Daytona 500, stock-car racing's premier event, and a regular challenger for the season championship, Irvan earned a reputation as a hard charger, a reputation, as it happens, that had as many negative connotations as positive ones. Going into 1994, Irvan was on top of the sport: the hottest driver racing for one of the best teams, Robert Yates's Texaco-sponsored Ford. During that season, however, Ernie hit the wall, literally and figuratively, slamming into a concrete barrier at 190 mph during a practice session. The tremendous force of the impact shattered his body, nearly blinding him in one eye. Two years later, wearing an eye patch, Ernie got back behind the wheel and since then, he's resumed his winning ways. If only this perseverance against adversity were the focus of the book. Alas, too often, Irvan launches into rants: against Yates, who jerked him around during contract renegotiations after the 1997 season; against Texaco, for misconstruing his failure to mention them at an awards banquet as an unforgivable slight; against other drivers and the media, who criticized his recklessness. While Irvan's fault-finding fills relatively few pages, it sets the tone for the rest of the book. This is a pity, because seemingly lost amid the rancor is the fact the Irvan is a plainspoken individual, who waxes philosophical about his injuries (the inevitable downside to good fortune, he reasons), is heartfelt in his descriptions of NASCAR colleagues, and is sincere in his grief over friends who have died while on the circuit. (Co-author Golenbock is the author of Cowboys Have Always Been My Heroes: The Definitive Oral History of America's Team, 1997.) Read full book review >