A colorful year on the road chasing NASCAR and sharing track-space with its ardent fans, from fine, clever-boots sportswriter MacGregor (special contributor, Sports Illustrated).
“While you were sleeping, stock-car racing became America’s national pastime and baseball crawled up under the house to die,” MacGregor declares. In 2001, he and his wife, whose photographs salt the text here, purchase a motor home with the drag coefficient of a refrigerated boxcar and travel from NASCAR venue to venue, from ugly, spanking-new tracks to honest little ovals. In fun, rambunctious sentences, some squirming over half a page, MacGregor crosses the breadth of the country ten times, mingling with people and absorbing the atmosphere, then spinning the happy anarchy back at us. He can make well-tooled, acidic wisecracks; provide dreamy sarcasm; and show a keen descriptive talent, whether he’s eyeballing A.J. Foyt (“an inoculation against milquetoast corporatism”) or a track hottie (“Uniformly: tan, tight clothes, cleavage, savage heels”). He never comes across as superior to it all—his shames and peccadilloes are all on quiet display—but his eye and ear miss almost nothing: not the history of the sport, the soft-core marketing savvy of NASCAR execs, the staggering amounts of cash involvedor the more immediate elements of the scene: the dense air of the track, “the concentration and compression of all that ambition and emotion and showmanship” or the persistent male arithmetic of horny optimism displayed through yelps of “show us your tits.” He also considers the problem that lately has been echoing through ballparks and arenas everywhere: the core fan—someone he has come to know fairly well over ten months—being priced out of the picture as the farm is sold to skyboxers and those with the means to buy $100 daily tickets and $35 promo hats.
After this piece of good old new journalism’s blister of words, the season is suddenly over, the reader wishing it weren’t. (photographs, plus 8 pp. color insert, not seen)