AMERICAN ZOOM by Peter Golenbock


Stock Car Racing--From the Dirt Tracks to Daytona
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 Golenbock, best known for baseball histories (Fenway, 1992; The Forever Boys, 1991, etc.), now turns his diligent attention to stock-car racing--a sport he calls ``chess on wheels.'' In what's primarily an oral history patched together with generous helpings of his own commentary, Golenbock enthusiastically examines the history, personalities, and ins-and-outs of NASCAR's Winston Cup circuit. The circuit's 29 races, starting with ``opening day'' at the Daytona 500 (``the Super Bowl, the World Series'' of racing) in February, comprise a spectator sport ``every bit as great...and as much fun to follow as major league baseball.'' NASCAR, we learn, was the brainchild of Bill France, who organized a December 1947 meeting to set standards, rules, and policy for a circuit that would feature ``standard street stock cars'' that ``ordinary working people'' could identify with. Noting that the early drivers were ``the real Dukes of Hazzard,'' Golenbock traces the origins of stock-car racing back to the days of southern bootleggers--but at $85 per ticket, ``the days of the redneck, fried-chicken-and beer crowd [are] a distant memory.'' The sport boomed into a multibillion-dollar industry in the early 1970's when nonautomotive sponsors like R.J. Reynolds got involved, and its early heroes--like Junior Johnson, who won 50 races and is now a top owner; Glenn ``Fireball'' Roberts, the ``first superstar'' of racing, who was killed in a 1964 crash at Charlotte; and Richard ``The King'' Petty, who raced for over 30 years, from 1958 to 1992, and won an incredible 200 times--are to racing what Mickey Mantle and Babe Ruth are to baseball. Not for casual readers--but sure to get stock-car enthusiasts' engines running.

Pub Date: Sept. 9th, 1993
ISBN: 0-02-544615-0
Page count: 494pp
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1993


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