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The Wildest Ride

            You don't have to be a NASCAR fan to have taken notice of the overwhelming media coverage this past February of a driver named Dale Earnhardt. Most Americans had heard of this man many call a legend, and if you happened to be a fan of stock car racing, you probably had a strong opinion about him, good or bad. .
             But what may have surprised many, including the NASCAR organization itself, was the tremendous respect and grief shown throughout the country for days and weeks toward a man who represented a rags-to-riches industry. .
             This book is not a biography of the Intimidator, however, but a history of the National Association of Stock Car Racing that helped make Earnhardt one of its best representatives. .
             Before reading this book, my limited knowledge of NASCAR's history came from three sources: My husband, who let me in on the fact that stock car racing evolved from good ol' Southern boys hauling moonshine and often having to outrun government officials; the NASCAR Café in Nashville, where I read captions under photographs about some man named Bill France and how races used to actually be run on the beach at Daytona; and from race car drivers themselves on various rain-delay-type shows that had them sharing some of their earlier experiences and stories. One that comes to mind is when driver Tim Flock had a monkey in his car as a publicity stunt. .
             Joe Menzer's excellent account of the birth of NASCAR and one great driver and race team after another will not only provide great reading material for experienced race fans, but also for newcomers about what is the fastest growing sport in America. The reader will experience a day at Bristol and the building of Charlotte Motor Speedway. One can read about the famous families of racing, such as the Pettys, the Earnhardts, the Jarrets and the Allisons. The reader can discover how corporate sponsorships became a reality, even to the point of changing the name from Grand National Racing to Winston Cup and to include products purchased by the growing number of female fans.