Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sunday Salon - He Crashed Me So I Crashed Him Back by Mark Bechtel

If you love NASCAR, you know the names - Petty, Allison, Yarborough, Bill France, Darryl Waltrip, Dale Earnhardt, and, of course, the Daytona 500. It's the perfect Sunday to discuss 1979, the year that brought NASCAR to the attention of the entire nation, not just the south. It's the Sunday of the Daytona 500, the race featured in Mark Bechtel's He Crashed Me So I Crashed Him Back.

Bechtel recounts the story of 1979, a memorable year for NASCAR. Kyle Petty made his debut in racing. But, it was another rookie who would go on to have a memorable career, a driver by the name of Dale Earnhardt. He introduces all of the personalities who were involved in racing that year, from the man who organized NASCAR, Bill France, to two drivers who captured the country's attention with their race, and the fight at Daytona, Bobby Allison and Cale Yarborough. It's a history of the popular sport, told from it's early days, in a style that captures the spirit and personalities.

Why did that 1979 Daytona 500 change the sport? It was a freak of nature, a blizzard that snowed in the east coast, and a choice of three television networks. Ten million people saw a race, a wreck, and a fight, and were caught up in the excitement. Suddenly, the sport was making news outside of its southern roots.

He Crashed Me So I Crashed Him Back is a definitive account of the 1979 year, the drivers, NASCAR, and the Daytona 500. As a fan, I found it fascinating. I have one quibble with Bechtel's commentary though. His comment that "Harlequin has a line of NASCAR-themed bodice rippers" shows he has as little understanding of romance novels as he thinks others have of NASCAR. Despite the insult to romance readers, Mark Bechtel has brilliantly captured a moment in NASCAR history.

He Crashed Me So I Crashed Him Back by Mark Bechtel. Little, Brown & Company, ©2010
ISBN 9780316034029 (hardcover), 308p.

FTC Full Disclosure: Review copy received from the publisher, in hopes I would review it.


le0pard13 said...

Great review, Lesa. Thanks for this.

Mason Canyon said...

Enjoyed the review. I've never been a fan of NASCAR, but I must say your take on it makes me take a closer look at. I love the part about the blizzard that snowed in the east coast in 1979, I had forgotten that.
Hope you and Jim have a wonderful Valentine's Day.

Lesa said...

Thank you, Michael. I really enjoyed this book.

Lesa said...

I remember that blizzard, too, Mason. Snowed in at college that year. Thank you for your wishes.

Robin Minnick said...

Thanks, Lesa. I know now to put this one in my sights.

bermudaonion said...

We lived in Charlotte - the heart of Nascar country - for five years and never got into it, so I'm not sure this book is for me. Nice review!

Clea Simon said...

I was just reading about how Danica Patrick is trying to transition to NASCAR - and how she crashed in her first official race! Makes this all seem kind of timely, doesn't it?
thanks for the review.

Lesa said...

Clea - At least Danica's crash wasn't her fault! It does make the book timely, that and the very, very long Daytona 500 today.

Jody said...

This sounds like something my husband (not much of a book reader) might enjoy. Thanks for the review.
We just finished the Daytona Week - on TV this time - but we've been there in the past.