Liz Clarke’s “One Helluva Ride”

Out of my curiosity, I attended a reading and book signing of Liz Clarke’s new book “One Helluva Ride: How NASCAR Swept the Nation” for many reasons, which I’ll explain.

To summarize the book, it’s simply a retracing of the history of NASCAR through the eyes of Liz Clarke.  What she saw was a southern sport that started on the dirt tracks in the 1950s and has expanded to the global economy where races are going international and international faces are driving these stock cars.  The book also keys in that the rise of NASCAR starts with the personalities like Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt Sr., and Jeff Gordon.  Without these personalities, NASCAR would be stuck on neutral and had no room of growth.  She also mentions three events that change NASCAR:

  • The 1979 Daytona 500 is where NASCAR became into the national lexicon with many storylines from Richard Petty winning the 500 to the brawl between Cale Yarborough and Bobby Allison after the race. 
  • The 1992 Winston running under he lights started NASCAR to become mainstream and respectability.
  • The 2001 Daytona 500 is where lost its soul with the death of Dale Earnhardt, Sr., but also started becoming corporate with new sponsors, new personalities, and new tracks.

Overall, the sport is in good shape, but it does have to wonder what direction NASCAR wants to go next and it’s still up in the air.

If you’re a casual fan, a racing historian, or like a good read, “One Helluva Ride” pinpoints the past, present, and future of NASCAR.  There are two NASCAR books every fan must have:  “Sunday Money” by Jeff MacGregor, which gives a point of view of why fans love NASCAR and their unique efforts of loving the sport.  And now, you can put in “One Helluva Ride” which tells its rich history and the image it wants to be.

Now, the real reason I attended the session is to see Liz Clarke (no, not that “reason”).  There are two guarantees on my emails to Mr. Tony:  John “Junior” Feinstein, and Liz’s demoralization of Canada (there are others, but those are my go-tos).  If you listen to the Tony Kornheiser Show, you know Liz’s hatred of Canada is of one reason:  Anne Murray’s “Snowbird.”  According to her, when “Snowbird” was released, the country’s cultural significance jumps the shark.  What also happened when the song came out was Canadians weren’t tipping to U.S. restaurants; terrible music from Crash Test Dummies, Shania Twain, Nickelback, and others; a wasteland of talent; the terrible Dracula movie while doing ballet (I made that excuse up, but the movie does exist and it was pitiful); the lack of activity since it’s cold; and other excuses you can put in.  She has changed her point of view on it a little bit since, but it’s always fun to poke the bear and Liz and I have exchange some emails about Canada (by the way, I’m not Canadian if anyone wants to know).  Just found her reason of hating Canada over the top, but that doesn’t discount that Liz Clarke is a wonderful writer and wrote a great book.  Junior on the other hand…

Disclosure – Several things:

  • I didn’t have a friend who had an Anne Murray t-shirt.  I wanted to listen to her reaction if someone was wearing one, ordering an Anne Murray album, or DVDs of Anne Murray.
  • Came in solo and the presentation was solid.  Got my copy and it was autograph by Liz.
  • I wanted to download Anne Murray’s song “Snowbird” to show Liz my friend, the iPod Touch.  However, I had no good wi-fi connection.
  • After the session, I headed home, ate dinner, typing this post and at the same time, bought Anne Murray’s “Snowbird” on iTunes.  Ninety-nine cents more for Ms. Murray.
  • I don’t get why Liz is all pent up of hating “Snowbird”.  I don’t care if she hates the song, but this Canadian culture “dreck” is only 2 minutes and 15 seconds.  That’s peanuts compared to the most overrated song ever:  Led Zeppelin’s 8 minute, 3 second alleged classic song, “Stairway to Heaven.”


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