Monday, February 1, 2010

Start your engines! Books for teen NASCAR fans

The National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) season begins this month with races at Daytona International Speedway. Here's a selection of books, both fiction and nonfiction, that will get readers ready for this season's first lap! Look for these titles using the WorldCatalog and Amazon search boxes here on BookBag.

Sunday Money: Speed! Lust! Madness! Death! A Hot Lap around America with NASCAR, by Jeff MacGregor (Harper Perennial) Adult Nonfiction. In order to fully grasp the appeal of NASCAR, Sports Illustrated contributor Jeff MacGregor and his photographer wife attended nearly every race during the 2002 season--it took their savings, a 26-foot RV, 48,000 miles and 40 weeks to do so, but by the end of their odyssey they'd met revered drivers and wacky fans, camped out in Wal-Mart parking lots and grandstands alike, and picked up a fair amount of NASCAR lore and advice (such as "Go big, baby, or don't go"). Reading this book is almost -- almost -- as good as having been on the road with the MacGregors.

Yellow Flag, by Robert Lipsyte (HarperTeen) Fiction. More at home behind a music stand than behind the wheel, talented trumpet-player Kyle Hildebrand has, so far, avoided being part of the family business of stock-car racing. But when Kyle's older brother, Kris, is forced to sit out a race due to an injury, Kyle has to take his place...and discovers that he likes it. Now he's torn between pursuing a NASCAR career and continuing to study music, and to make things worse, he's got a potential girlfriend in each of these worlds. With plenty of NASCAR details, Yellow Flag is a must-read novel for racing fans.

Hard Driving: The Wendell Scott Story: The American Odyssey of NASCAR's First Black Driver, by Brian Donovan (Random House) Adult Nonfiction. Like many early NASCAR drivers, Wendell Scott learned how to maneuver a fast-moving car by running moonshine. Unlike most talented racers, however, Scott had no sponsorships, no professional pit crew, and no guarantee that when he showed up at a track he'd be allowed to enter the race. Why? Because, in the 1950s, he was the only African-American competing in the sport. This "memorable tale of an unsung American hero" (Kirkus Reviews) is a must-read for any auto-racing fan and has ample appeal for those interested in civil rights history as well.

Saturday Night Dirt, by Will Weaver (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) Fiction. The many members of this book's car-obsessed cast are all out to prove themselves, both on and off the quarter-mile, small-town Minnesota dirt track speedway that is the center of their lives. On a collision course to meet at the Saturday night race that could make or break the financially struggling Headwaters Speedway, the characters move through one day, all of them hoping to win--and praying that the predicted rainstorm will pass them by. Exciting race scenes, colorful characters, and mechanical details that will enthrall gearheads make this fast-paced first entry in the Motor series a winner.

Switched, by Jessica Wollman (Delacorte Press) Fiction. Smart, hard-working Laura Mellon longs to go to an Ivy League college, but the house-cleaning business that she shares with her mom will hardly pay for such an education. Willa Pogue, who constantly disappoints her wealthy parents, feels as though she's living a life that's wrong for her (and she has a record of boarding-school expulsions to prove it). When Laura is hired to clean Willa's mansion, the two girls are astonished by how much they look alike...and they agree to trade lives for a while. So, where does NASCAR fit into this modern take on The Prince and the Pauper? You'll never guess until you read the book, but trust us, it does.

Fast Women: The Legendary Ladies of Racing, by Todd McCarthy (Miramax Books/Hyperion) Adult Nonfiction. If you think of Danica Patrick or even Janet Guthrie as the first serious female auto racer, well, guess again. This fun and fascinating book reveals that as long as there have been cars, there have been women who like and are quite talented at driving them--fast. Auto racing's earliest female enthusiasts ran the gamut from moms and socialites to mechanics, beauty queens, journalists, and more, and Fast Women includes stories of not only their triumphs and tragedies on the track, but also of their everyday lives.

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