Growing Up NASCAR: Racing's Most Outrageous Promoter Tells All


In 1949, w

hen Humpy Wheeler

was 11, he attended the very first...

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Growing Up NASCAR: Racing's Most Outrageous Promoter Tells All

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In 1949, w

hen Humpy Wheeler

was 11, he attended the very first NASCAR race

. For the next ten years, he spent

as much time in the pits

as he could, and came to know many of the

sport’s pioneers.

Eventually, Wheeler

began promoting races at Carolina tracks such as Concord Speedway, Robin

wood Speedway, and Starlight Speedway. Racing was so rough back then he kept a gun by his side when he paid the

purse, and often used his fists to keep order. By the time Wheeler retired

in 2008, he had

helped NASCAR


the six

-billion-dollar-a-year industry

it is today.

Filled with photographs from Wheeler's personal archives, Growing up NASCAR presents the ultimate behind-the-scenes look at NASCAR from the consumate insider.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Herald Courier, March 19, 2010
“With the assistance of author Peter Golenbock, Wheeler’s recently traced his colorful life and career in the book Growing Up NASCAR: Racing's Most Outrageous Promoter Tells All. From grimy dirt tracks to lavish superspeedways, Wheeler feels there are five essential elements for attracting and retaining fans to motorsports.”

Gaston Gazette, March 26, 2010
 “Wheeler’s stories of growing up in Belmont, his mother’s store in Gastonia and his maternal grandparents’ home in Bessemer lend a strong Gaston County flavor to the book. It explores his days at Robinwood Speedway.

Wheeler describes his role as a young promoter fresh out of college and the exploits of such Gastonia drivers as the Cooper Brothers, Jim Dimeo, Harold Dunnaway and others who created dynamic action at what he said was the best quarter-mile track ever built.”

"Truly a fun, entertaining book, it also gives some good insights into the man and the personality behind what we’ve all seen in races.” –

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780760337752
  • Publisher: Motorbooks
  • Publication date: 3/15/2010
  • Edition description: First
  • Pages: 300
  • Sales rank: 680,890
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

In 1947, when Humpy Wheeler was nine years old, he put his thumb out on Highway 29 and hitched a ride to the Charlotte Speedway. Since then, Humpy has held just about every job there is in NASCAR. The consummate promoter, Humpy invented the pre-race show.

Peter Golenbock has been writing books about sports since 1975. Some of his best sellers are Dynasty, The Bronx Zoo (with Sparky Lyle), Number 1 (with Billy Martin), and Balls (with Greg Nettles.) He has also written a series of NASCAR histories including American Zoom, The Last Lap, and NASCAR Confidential.

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Table of Contents

1 We Watched the Race Cars Go By 1

2 The Scotch-Irish and the Segregated South 15

3 Learning the Ropes 32

4 Moonshine and Racing 45

5 The Robinwood Speedway 52

6 Slick 69

7 Witness to Disaster 79

8 When the Rubber Meets the Road 95

9 Big Bill France 109

10 Ralph and the Indian 116

11 Bobby Allison 123

12 Junior Johnson 130

13 Driving for Junior 138

14 Curtis and Bruton Go Bust 155

15 Hired to Run the Charlotte Motor Speedway 162

16 Bruton and I 173

17 Dirt Poor Dale 186

18 Dale and Richard Childress 193

19 Rick Hendrick Changes the Game 201

20 Days of Thunder 213

21 Alan Kulwicki's Too Short Journey 223

22 The All Star Race 229

23 Robert Yates Knows Tragedy 244

24 Bobby Allison's Nightmare 249

25 NASCAR and Bruton Go National 253

26 Joe Gibbs and Dale Jarrett 268

27 Jack Roush and Mark Martin 272

28 The Death of Dale Earnhardt 276

29 The Corporatization of Racing 282

30 Good-Bye 288

31 Racing of the Future 294

Index 299

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 19, 2010

    what a guy this Humpy Wheeler!

    I found out long ago that Peter Golenbock is one of America's greatest sports book writers. His books on Mickey Mantle, Billy Martin, Bobby Allison and George Steinbrener are all wonderful but this one on Humpy Wheeler is the best because this Wheeler guy is one of the most interesting characters I have ever read about. From his tales about growing up in the segregated South of the forties and fifties to his exploits as a boxer, football player, racer and promotor are terrific. Not only does he take you into the inner sanctum of NASCAR but Indy cars and the Bonneville Salt Flats and his pre-race shows brought racing to new heights.
    You find out in the book why he is not only racing's greatest promotor but perhaps the best in all of sports. He also takes us into his close relationship with some of the greatest drivers of all time like Dale Earnhardt Sr., Parnelli Jones, Richard Petty, David Pearson, Jeff Gordon, Tim Richmond and just about everybody else that won races from the sixties to the present day. This is just a doggone good read for everybody.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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