Sunday Money: Speed! Lust! Madness! Death! a Hot Lap Around America with NASCAR
by Jeff Macgregor
NASCAR's Heart of Darkness.
A review by Nick Parish
For the uninitiated, NASCAR can seem a set of baffling unknowables -- or just
300,000 rednecks in the grandstand, braying at death-frenzied hayseeds. Lacking
the pastoral sophistication of baseball or the strategy of football, for as many
adherents NASCAR claims (around 75 million) there are sports fans set against
its inevitable rise.
Jeff MacGregor's first book serves as a shot across the bow for those staunchly
in the "stick-and-ball world;" Sunday Money is a primer on
the history of stock car racing and a vivid portrait of the season MacGregor
and the Beep (his "Beautiful, Brilliant Partner," photographer Olya
Evanitsky) spent crisscrossing America in a motorhome, clocking 47,649 miles
on the Winston Cup tour.
But more than offering race descriptions, anecdotes, or driver hijinks, more
than recounting life in the NASCAR tent cities or parking lots of Wal-Marts,
MacGregor examines the sport's commercial machine the squadrons of flacks
regulating image, the promotional juggernaut packing logos and endorsements
into sports columns and TV highlights. Incorporating an analysis of consumerism
into his book, MacGregor shows NASCAR as larger than the sport and its myth.
It is the inexorable Tony Stewart, Orangeman of Home Depot; Mark Martin in the
Viagra Ford; Jimmie Johnson in the Lowe's Chevy. It is Will Ferrell as Official
Spokesman of NASCAR Day. It is the scads of products bearing drivers and their
cars, it is the cardboard cutout of Dale Jr. in the beer aisle with a pile of
Bud. As MacGregor argues, in buying widgets, shopping at Home Depot, or seeing
Will in his new movie (coming this fall with Sacha Baron Cohen), you're anteing
up, so you might as well learn how to enjoy it. To that end, short of attending
a race, track down this primer. The depth of description and insight jacks it
head and shoulders above the ordinary.
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