NASCAR Publications and Videos

NASCAR: America's New National Passtime!

NASCAR is the largest sports business in the USA. In 1996 it matched and surpassed the National Football League in dollar value. NASCAR is now a $4.8 billion, or more by some estimates, a year operation. A single NASCAR Nextel Cup weekend event can take in as much gate revenue as a major league baseball team does in an ENTIRE season. Well known writers are now applying their skills describing and documenting the NASCAR scene.

THE INSIDER's Bob Rolfe talks about the best NASCAR publication of the year: THE LAST LAP by Peter Golenbock.

Several years ago, THE INSIDER encountered a book called "American Zoom" by a former Sports Illustrated reporter named Peter Golenbock.

It was remarkable because it was a book about stock car racing by a writer with no background in the sport. Golenbock had a strictly stick-and-ball background, so it was with considerable surprise that I found myself recommending it in print.

Later, AutoWeek magazine said that "American Zoom may be the most important book on American motorsports ever published."

What Golenbock had done was to interview dozens of people who had participated in NASCAR racing from early to modern times, transcribed the interviews and let them tell their stories in their own words.

It was fascinating, and it obviously kindled the writer's interest, because he later went on to edit, with Greg Felden, "The Stock Car Racing Encyclopedia."

I'm happy to report that Golenbock has gone back to his tape recorder and made another round of trips across America interviewing more stock car people - and has done twice as good a job the second time around.

The book, "The Last Lap" is published by Macmillan and lists at $24.95 hardbound.

This time, Golenbock has done a much more thorough - and entertaining - job on the early days of stock car racing. He spent a lot of time with many of the pioneers, particularly two-time 1950s champion Tim Flock, whose death two weeks ago (1998) fortunately came just days after the publication of the book his reminiscences helped to make marvelous.

For example, there's the tale of early racing star Joe Weatherly "who drank so much the call letters of his airplane was Whiskey and the number".

There is the touching story of the Myers brothers, Bobby and Bill, two early racers who barely made it to the big leagues. When they finally arrived, Bobby was killed in an accident at Darlington, S.C., and his family was left without insurance to survive. But his brother did have coverage and had promised to help out should anything ever happen to his sibbling.

Six months after Bobby's death, Billy was driving in a race when he suddenly pulled to the side of the track - and dropped dead at the wheel of natural causes.

Bobby's son is the one who tells the story. He's probably the best known crewman in Winston Cup racing - Danny "Chocolate" Myers, the gas man for the Richard Childress Racing No. 3 Chevrolet driven by Dale Earnhardt.

Years later, when Earnhardt won the Southern 500 at Darlijngton, the bear-like Chocolate Myers says he cried like a baby because a team with which he was associated had attained the goal that had been his father's life-long dream.

There are a number of tales of violent death in the book. Particularly moving is the account of the final days of Davey Allison as told by his wife, but crossed with an outside account of marital problems that was unknown to the public at the time.

And finally, there are the wonderful words of Lou LaRosa, a Brooklyn-born engine-builder who worked for many top teams for 30 years, and quit in the mid-90s when he saw technology replacing the old-line professionals.

"I say to all you computer people" he told Golenbock, "remember it's 3.1416 which, if you know your math, is pi. They are always trying to pi-R-square you. But the stupid sons of bitches don't know that pi are round. Cornbread are square. And they can take their computers and have a good time with them, because that ain't racing like it used to be."

Bob Rolfe is senior content editor for THE LEADER, Corning, NY

Best Bets in NASCAR Reading and Video:

The Last Lap: The Life & Times of NASCAR's Legendary Heros (Hardcover)
The Last Lap: The Life & Times of NASCAR's Legendary Heros (Paperback)
The Insiders Guide to Stock Car Racing: NASCAR
RACING - From the Dirt Tracks to Daytona
Behind the Scenes of NASCAR Racing
From Moonshine to Madison Avenue: NASCAR's Winston Cup Series
Wide Open: Days & Nights on the NASCAR Tour
Wheels: NASCAR's Winston Cup Series
Official NASCAR Handbook: NASCAR Winston Cup Series
The Stock Car Racing Encyclopedia
American Stock Car Racers
NASCAR: The Thunder of America
Official NASCAR Trivia: Ultimate Challenge for NASCAR Fans
Natural Born Winner: The Jeff Gordon Story
Video: 50 Years of NASCAR (A little expensive; but, many hours - 5 star rating)
Video: Inherit the Win
Video: Southern Exposure
Video: Fields and Towers
Video: Good Old Gods
Video: NASCAR Families in the Fast Lane
Video: NASCAR For Kids: A day at the Race Shop
Video: NASCAR For Kids: A day at the Races
Video: Bobby and Davey Allison
Video: Richard and Kyle Petty
Video: Rusty and Kenny Wallace

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