A MONTH AT THE BRICKYARD: The Incredible Indy 500 by Sonny Kleinfield

A MONTH AT THE BRICKYARD: The Incredible Indy 500

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Kleinfield's ordered narrative follows Johnny Parsons, a young Indy racer on the make, and his crew through the month before the 1976 running of the event known as ""racing's mother church."" The endless preparation--practicing, tuning, testing, tinkering--involves anything from an adjustment of the car's ""stagger"" (minute differences in tire circumference for better handling), to the replacement of an entire engine after Parsons ""loses his lunch."" Intertwined in the day-to-day record is a detailed look at the 500, down to a page-long discussion of the flagman's technique: ""I get so many women who come up to me and say, 'I just love the way you wave the flags.'"" A reporter for the Wall Street Journal, Kleinfield is at his best when he lets assorted racers, fans, and track personnel do the talking--Parsons, driving down the shadowy main straightaway, feels as if he's ""driving down a narrow hallway in a house and getting ready to make a sharp left turn into the bedroom."" But, left on his own, Kleinfield's atmospheric sketches seem forced and false--especially compared to Gerber's powerful images (above)--even where he virtually lifts several paragraphs from Hunter Thompson's 1971 gonzo-epic, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. What it's like, but less than incredible.

Pub Date: May 2nd, 1977
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston