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One Helluva Ride: How NASCAR Swept the Nation Hardcover – February 12, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Villard; 1ST edition (February 12, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345499883
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345499882
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,768,179 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Advance praise for One Helluva Ride

“I’ve known Liz Clarke for a long time. She’s one of the most respected writers out there. One Helluva Ride gets off to an entertaining start, and it describes the 2001 Daytona 500 just as I remember it–a race that went from the all-time high of my life, coming back from tearing up the car and finishing third, to the all-time low of losing one of my best friends, Dale Earnhardt.”
–Rusty Wallace, 1989 NASCAR champion and ESPN commentator

“You can’t pretend to have a full-scale discussion about sports anymore without understanding NASCAR. One Helluva Ride is an entertaining, literate look at where the sport has been and where it’s going.”
–Michael Wilbon, Washington Post columnist and co-host of ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption”

“From the moonshiners of the Southern mountains to Madison Avenue, Liz Clarke takes us into the very soul of NASCAR. Her insightful mind and years of covering stock car racing make this book an absolute read for anyone even faintly curious about this phenomenon.”
–H. A. “Humpy” Wheeler, veteran NASCAR promoter and president of Lowe’s Motor Speedway

“Liz Clarke does a great job of telling the story of how NASCAR has changed since I was driver.”
–Robert Glen “Junior” Johnson, legendary NASCAR racer

About the Author

A sportswriter for The Washington Post, Liz Clarke has also covered NASCAR for USA Today, The Charlotte Observer, and The Dallas Morning News, and was twice honored with the Russ Catlin award for excellence in motorsports journalism. She spent four seasons as a Post beat writer on the Washington Redskins and has written extensively about the Olympics, tennis, and college sports. A graduate of Barnard College, she lives in Washington, D.C., with her beloved Lab, Rusty.

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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I would recommend it to anyone, NASCAR lover or not.
K. F. Reed
This book is a rare combination of entertainment and information woven into a fast-paced narrative.
L. F. Smith
Take a good look at Liz Clarke's new book, One Helluva Ride: How NASCAR Swept the Nation.
Kathleen McClain

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Kathleen McClain on February 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Take a good look at Liz Clarke's new book, One Helluva Ride: How NASCAR Swept the Nation. You don't have to know auto racing to relate to NASCAR's populist, dirt-track roots, its self-made heroes and multibillion-dollar marketing revolution. If you're already a fan, you'll find fresh insights and up-close portraits of the sport's most compelling personalities. If you're on the fence, climb over: Follow the money, meet the stars, get inside the rivalries and tragedies that pull them together and push them apart.

Clarke knows sports on the world stage. She has covered the NFL, the World Cup, Wimbledon and the Olympics from Sydney to Salt Lake to Athens and the Italian Alps. In 15 years of writing for the Charlotte Observer, the Dallas Morning News, USA Today and, now, the Washington Post, she has also become an authority on NASCAR, a truly American sports phenomenon.

If you can't get past comparing strawberries and cream at Wimbledon's Centre Court to chicken bones at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, you're missing a great story. Clarke's colleague Michael Wilbon, the Post columnist and co-host of ESPN's Pardon the Interruption, says it well: "You can't pretend to have a full-scale discussion of sports anymore without understanding NASCAR."

Clarke is an especially observant guide. As a reporter, she didn't choose to write about NASCAR; she knew almost nothing about racing when she was sent to cover her first speedway practice in Charlotte in 1991. As she got to know the drivers, she found them more accessible and interesting than many of the arrogant athletes in pro sports. It was clear that the drivers' personalities, not their 3,400-pound cars, were the sport's real drawing cards.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Edward Shaw on February 12, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For either a veteran fan or a newbie, there is a ton of information and no small amount of local color and opinion in One Helluva Ride. This "Back to Basics" year for NASCAR is the perfect time to check out this very informative and roots respecting book by Liz Clarke.

It is clear from her reporting she has developed strong and trusting relationships with a range of drivers, owners and mechanics, from the pioneers and early heroes to today's mega stars of this growing and changing sport. (The foreword is written by Richard Petty.) The book's ambitious trajectory is nicely broken down into insightful biographical sketches and fact filled discussions of major changes in the sport's history.

She navigates the shoal waters of NASCAR's founding, drivers schooled in dirt road high speed tactics hauling loads of moonshine liquor, to the high water marks of today's sport peopled with MBAs and image consultants teaching lads who were driving on dirt tracks in the mid west, how to deal with a stage second only to the NFL in television coverage.

This is a good read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. Donald on February 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover
With equal parts sports history, business strategy and social commentary, Clarke tracks the rise of NASCAR by focusing on the personalities that made (and continue to make) the sport grow.

If you're looking for a book that recaps significant races or focuses on racing strategy, this isn't it. However, if you want to walk away with the feeling that you've spent an afternoon on Richard Petty's front porch chatting over a few Cheerwines, then you'll thoroughly enjoy this book. Clarke has clearly invested much of herself in NASCAR and the sport has repaid the debt with the gift of its personalities which Clarke presents here as very few could do.

While Clarke clearly loves the sport, she does not sugarcoat some of NASCAR's historic flaws such as the reluctance to quickly address safety issues. In the end, this fast-paced account will leave you with some great insight and knowledge that will serve you as well in Hueytown, Alabama as it will on Madison Avenue.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Holly Cara Price on February 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Let me say at the outset that I knew next to nothing about NASCAR prior to reading this book. I've never watched a race on TV for more than a few minutes; I've never attended a race in person. With that said, I couldn't stop reading "One Helluva Ride." It's a terrific read and a great American story that reads like a novel, as all the best nonfiction should.

Author Liz Clarke has covered NASCAR for many years for newspapers such as the Charlotte Observer, USA Today, and, currently, the Washington Post. She knows her subject - really, really well. And she can turn a phrase so that within a few pages you're completely sucked in and fascinated by people you never even heard of yesterday.

The story of NASCAR is the American dream come to life. As Clarke writes, 'from stock-car racing's beginning, there was something illicit about it - like early rock `n' roll - that suggested a certain depravity . . . it was a sport at the fringe of the rules.' From the sport's beginning with dirt tracks in the deep south where souped up cars raced far away from the prying eyes of local law enforcement and drivers tinkered on their own sedans to compete, to the latter days of multi-million dollar speedways and primetime racing on television, to the sea change as the NASCAR's original sponsor, cigarette maker RJ Reynolds, steps aside to make way for more family-friendly advertising and an even wider audience on the world stage. You can see how quickly this all took place from a look at the list of all-time NASCAR champions and their winnings in the back of the book - Red Byron in 1949 pocketed $5800; Jimmie Johnson in 2007 took home over $15 million.

The drama - the pathos - all here.
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