In the past twenty years, big-time stock-car racing has become America’s fastest growing spectator sport. Winston Cup races draw larger audiences—at the tracks and on television—than any other sport, and drivers like Dale Jarrett, Jeff Gordon, and Mark Martin have become cultural icons whose endorsements command millions. What accounts for NASCAR’s surging popularity? For years a “closeted” NASCAR fan, Professor Jim Wright took advantage of a sabbatical in 1999 to attend stock-car races at seven of the Winston Cup’s legendary venues: Daytona, Indianapolis, Darlington, Charlotte, Richmond, Atlanta, and Talladega. The “Fixin’ to Git Road Tour” resulted in this book—not just a travelogue of Wright’s year at the races, but a fan’s valentine to the spectacle, the pageantry, and the subculture of Winston Cup racing. Wright busts the myth that NASCAR is a Southern sport and takes on critics who claim that there’s nothing to racing but “drive fast, turn left,” revealing the skill, mental acuity, and physical stamina required by drivers and their crews. Mostly, though, he captures the experience of loyal NASCAR fans like himself, describing the drama in the grandstands—and in the bars, restaurants, parking lots, juke joints, motels, and campgrounds where race fans congregate. He conveys the rich, erotic sensory overload—the sights, the sounds, the smells, the feel—of weekends at the Winston Cup race tracks.
NASCAR Winston Cup stock car racing is America’s fastest growing and most popular spectator sport. This book is a cultural and social reading of Winston Cup racing, the people who made the sport what it is today, and the corporations who sponsor the participants during their thirty-two race, ten-month quest for the national championship.
Who won the first Daytona 500? Fans still debate whether it was midwestern champion Johnny Beauchamp, declared the victor at the finish line, or longtime NASCAR driver Lee Petty, declared the official winner a few days after the race. The Ghosts of NASCAR puts the controversial finish under a microscope. Author John Havick interviewed scores of people, analyzed film of the race, and pored over newspaper accounts of the event. He uses this information and his deep knowledge of the sport as it worked then to determine what probably happened. But he also tells a much bigger story: the story of how Johnny Beauchamp—and his Harlan, Iowa, compatriots, mechanic Dale Swanson and driver Tiny Lund—ended up in Florida driving in the 1959 Daytona race.
The Ghosts of NASCAR details how the Harlan Boys turned to racing cars to have fun and to escape the limited opportunities for poor boys in rural southwestern Iowa. As auto racing became more popular and better organized in the 1950s, Swanson, Lund, and Beauchamp battled dozens of rivals and came to dominate the sport in the Midwest. By the later part of the decade, the three men were ready to take on the competition in the South’s growing NASCAR circuit. One of the top mechanics of the day, Swanson literally wrote the book on race cars at Chevrolet’s clandestine racing shop in Atlanta, Georgia, while Beauchamp and Lund proved themselves worthy competitors. It all came to a head on the brand-new Daytona track in 1959.
The Harlan Boys’ long careers and midwestern racing in general have largely faded from memory. The Ghosts of NASCAR recaptures it all: how they negotiated the corners on dirt tracks and passed or spun out their opponents; how officials tore down cars after races to make sure they conformed to track rules; the mix of violence and camaraderie among fierce competitors; and the struggles to organize and regulate the sport. One of very few accounts of 1950s midwestern stock car racing, The Ghosts of NASCAR is told by a man who was there during the sport’s earliest days.
In the winter of 1908, six cars left Times Square bound for Paris. They were embarking on a remarkable motor race across the world that would capture everyone’s imagination. In this book, Dermot Cole weaves a thrilling account of the improbable journey west from New York to Paris, the varied characters, and the nascent automobile industry. Drawing from the drivers’ journals and extensive newspaper reports, Cole details the many hardships, triangulations, and physical extremes encountered along the route as the drivers attempted to race from coast to coast, cross the Bering Strait to Russia, traverse Siberia, and onward.
Hard Driving delves beyond the riveting headlines to explore the race’s implications for global politics and diplomacy and how the automobile became a viable mode of transportation.
A much-needed guidebook for one of the most beautiful states to explore on two wheels
David Haynes offers fifty ride loops of between 75 and 150 miles in length throughout every region of the state. The start and stop points for each ride are identical and easy to locate. This handy guide, which is designed to fit in a tank bag, features both streetbike and dual-sport rides. Also included are detailed, color-coded maps of the routes and turn-by-turn directions. Stunning full-color photographs accompany each ride description, highlighting scenes and points of interest along the way. There are introductory chapters on motorcycle safety, gear, and the use of global positioning devices, as well as pointers on motorcycle camping. The companion website, motorcyclingalabama.info, offers sample rides and downloadable GPS codes for all fifty rides, and hosts an author blog.
Motorcycle touring is one of the fastest-growing outdoor recreational pursuits in the country. For both the in-state and out-of-state motorcycle enthusiast, Motorcycling Alabama is a valuable and complete guide to a state rich in diverse types of scenery and with many unsung treasures yet to be discovered.
Published in cooperation with the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, Birmingham.