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He Crashed Me So I Crashed Him Back: The True Story of the Year the King, Jaws, Earnhardt, and the Rest of NASCAR's Feudin', Fightin' Good Ol' Boys Put Stock Car Racing on the Map Hardcover – February 8, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Stock car racing had long been a Southern phenomenon, but 1979 changed everything. A fight at the live, nationally televised Daytona 500 between Bobby Allison and Cale Yarborough helped, especially since monstrous snowstorms over the race's weekend essentially made the East housebound, contributing to big ratings. There was more to NASCAR's rise to legitimacy, according to Bechtel, a senior editor at Sports Illustrated. From cowboy boots to Smokey and the Bandit, America was becoming consumed with the South's culture, and NASCAR fell right in line. A fledgling television network called ESPN needed sports programming to fill its schedule, and NASCAR was happy to oblige. Hotshot rookie Dale Earnhardt's fearless driving and working-class appeal landed a legend and the foundation of its future popularity. Throughout, Bechtel uses the 1979 NASCAR season as his backdrop, profiling the motley crew of racers and executives who were at the forefront. What could have been a painful juggling act becomes an illuminating, informative, and entertaining read, as the engaging and droll Bechtel is in complete control from start to finish. 8-page color insert. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In March 1979, the northern half of the U.S. was blanketed by a heavy snowstorm. In those pre-cable days, there wasn’t much on television, and the nation’s viewers were almost forced to watch the Daytona 500 in between driveway shovelings. Bechtel, a Sports Illustrated editor who covered NASCAR for the magazine for nine years, points to that snowy March day as the beginning of the sport’s appeal to a broader audience. Prior, it had mostly been a southern regional sport. But this isn’t a dry examination of expanding audience metrics; rather, it’s a funny, entertaining look at the outsize personalities and rivalries that fueled NASCAR’s growth. There are profiles of such legendary characters as Richard “King” Petty, Bobby Allison, Cale Yarborough, and Dale Earnhardt, among others. They were either former moonshiners who drove souped-up cars to outrun government agents or direct descendants of those backwoods adventurers. They were clannish, fearless, and refreshingly frank with the media, traits all reflected in Bechtel’s entertaining memoir of that memorable 1979 season. --Wes Lukowsky

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (February 8, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316034029
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316034029
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,358,119 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mark Bechtel covered NASCAR for Sports Illustrated for nine years and is now a senior editor for the magazine. In addition, he wrote the narration for the 2004 movie NASCAR 3-D: The IMAX Experience.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By els on February 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover
"He Crashed Me..." is a surprisingly interesting glimpse inside an American cultural phenomenon. Never having been a NASCAR fan I started this book with trepidation expecting to catch the gist of the story and then set it aside--such is the way when given books by sports fanatics to help understand their passion. However, the author's writing keeps a fast paced clip both lively and informative---getting at all the `inside baseball' information, the races, the feuds, the crashes, the fans... without allowing the technical sports jargon and statistics to take over.

I found it to be a clever and insightful look at the characters and culture that have shaped NASCAR and its emergence from a southern sport to a national pastime. Regardless of whether you're a dyed in the wool NASCAR fan this is an entertaining narrative about a part of American culture written in a clever and accessible style for those of us on the outside of this sport looking in.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Chase Whitaker on March 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bechtel has written what a I view is one of the top books ever written about NASCAR. A lot of terrible ones have been published, and only a few are not only good - but also stand the test of time. This book is definitely a must read today - and I believe it'll hold up in the long run. Bechtel does a great job telling stories that haven't been told before or haven't been in heavy circulation. I've followed NASCAR and the Pettys since the mid 1970s. And this book is full of all kinds of trivia nuggets about them I never knew. He also does a nice job of weaving in American society, economy, and politics of the late 70s/early 80s era into the book - and paints a picture of how they affected NASCAR. I only noticed one known factual error in the book. He says Cale Yarborough's Olds in the 1979 Daytona 500 was sponsored by Holly Farms Chicken (pg 116). Of course, its commonly known the #11 was sponsored by Busch beer in 1979-80. Beyond that though, the stories were fresh, well told, and well documented. Bechtel also does a great job distancing himself and the reader from inferring too much from interviews with drivers, owners, and promoters. Frequently, he interviewed more than one source for a story. Not surprisingly, he got multiple versions of a story from everyone who supposedly had a first-hand encounter with the story. All in all, a great read.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By My Four Monkeys blog on February 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Any NASCAR fans out there? If so, you be excited about a new book just released from Hachette Books. He Crashed Me So I Crashed Him Back, by Mark Bechtel, is the true story of the year the King, Jaws, Earnhardt, and the rest of NASCAR's feudin', fightin' Good Ol' Boys put Stock Car Racing on the map. The year is 1979 (the year I was born), and stock car racing is virtually unknown. Being mostly a southern phenomenon, many Americans had never heard of Richard Petty and Darryl Waltrip, and especially not the young Dale Earnhardt. But in the spring of 1979, races were televised and the fights, the crashes, and the fast driving became an American addiction. I received a copy of this book for review.

Mark Bechtel used research and interviews with the drivers themselves to write this informative history of the birth of modern day NASCAR. For me, this book was really interesting. A southerner myself, not only did all this occur the year I was born, but reading stories of races that took place right here in Richmond, Virgina, was pretty cool. Jeremy and I love racing, and while we don't follow the drivers or watch every race, we do enjoy a good race once in awhile. A friend of ours used to race and we would got to watch him every week for years. The adrenaline and anticipation can't be replicated elsewhere. The noise, the engines, the speed, it all comes together to make a heart pumping event. He Crashed Me So I Crashed Him Back is packed full of action!

Sometimes serious, other times suspenseful, and definitely full of humor, this book was a fun and interesting read. NASCAR wasn't always what it is today. There were those that paved the way for the younger drivers.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Trevor Seigler on June 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover
In the wide, wild world of sports, NASCAR has never really appealed to me. I grew up a baseball fan, gradually embraced football, and recently discovered an appreciation for the sweet science of basketball (nevermind my own ability at trashcan basketball, where the ball is a waded-up paper towel and the "rim" is a trashcan at ground level). Alas, the Church of the Left Turn hasn't held much appeal for me, despite my being born and raised in the region where it was born and continues to flourish.

That won't change after reading "He Crashed Me So I Crashed Him Back," but I can say that I appreciate that there's more to it than meets the eye. In a rich, detailed and evocative history of one pivotal year in stock-car racing (1979, which is also the year I was born), the book manages to convey not just the excitement of NASCAR on the brink of national popularity, but also examines the cultural tides that turned to provide it with the platform to take over the car-racing landscape.

There are the usual suspects here (The Pettys, Dale Earnhardt in his youth) but also drivers that only a diehard would have known of. The author interweaves their stories effortlessly, creating a narrative that pits Daryl Waltrip and "King Richard" in a no-holds-barred race for the points that comes down literally to the last race of the season. In between are racetrack melees, off-the-course politics, and old-guard-versus-new-blood rivalries that helped launch the sport as more than just a regional curiosity. The book doesn't just cover how NASCAR came into its own, but how the country was in just the right mood for something new to offset the "malaise" of the Carter years.
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