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.