More than a book about racing, this is a close-up look at a cultural phenomenon that illuminates America and the South.
Author: Jerry Bledsoe
Publisher: Scruffy City Press
Category: Sports & Recreation
On Labor Day weekend of 1972, journalist Jerry Bledsoe hooked up with the stock car racing circuit to begin research for his first book. The result of his efforts, first published in 1975, has been called the classic work on stock car racing. Bledsoe captures the beginnings of the modern NASCAR era, a time when legends like Richard Petty, David Pearson, Bobby Allison, and the Wood brothers ruled. It was also a time when independent drivers like Wendell Scott (NASCAR’s first African American driver) and Larry Smith could build a car in their garages during the week and race on Sunday alongside King Richard. With levels of access impossible to achieve today, Bledsoe is not only in the pits and garages with the drivers, but also is alongside their family driving to the next race in a van piled high with ice chests filled with sandwiches and fried chicken. He digs into the sport’s rough and rowdy history and shines a light into its nooks and crannies, uncovering the forgotten role that women drivers played in creating this most macho of motorsports. And then there are the fans. There’s Red Robinson, the self-proclaimed “World’s Number One Stock Car Racing Fan," who collects racing beauty queens the way some people collects stamps. And the fans camped out in the infield at Darlington, the biggest, wildest, whoopingest, holleringest, drinkingest, gamblingest, carousingest, knock-down, fall-out blowout held in the South. More than a book about racing, this is a close-up look at a cultural phenomenon that illuminates America and the South. In 1965, Tom Wolfe called racer Junior Johnson “the last American hero.” “The World’s Number One, All-Time Great, Stock Car Racing Book” shows that a decade later there were still plenty of heroes circling the track with no signs of them disappearing anytime soon.