"Most of us don't dwell on dying. I didn't not even the second before I hit the wall at 190 miles an hour. I never knew that morning I'd face death. Like most race car drivers, I have friends on and off the track who have died, but I don't think about death. Driving fast and living as well as I can is more important. I don't care much for hospitals, and I try to avoid funerals. When a fan or a reporter asks me about the dangers I face, I deny the sport is dangerous. To me, being a racer is no more risky than being a teacher, a pilot, or a construction worker walking a beam seventy stories high. Yeah, accidents happen, but not to me. They happen to the other guy. I was wrong." Ernie Irvan, from No Fear
In 1994 Ernie Irvan was at the top of his NASCAR career. The winner of more than ten cup races, including the Daytona 500, Irvan was confident that 1994 would be the best season of his Winston Cup career. But he had no idea what he was about to face. While taking an extra practice lap before a race in Michigan, Irvan cut a tire and hurtled into a concrete wall at speeds in excess of 190 miles an hour. He trashed his car and seriously damaged his body: Irvan came out of the accident with a collapsed lung, fractures at the base of his skull, and a bruised brain, and he spent three days in a coma. He had a 10 percent chance of survival.
In his new book, No Fear, Irvan recounts in detail how he not only survived this devastating crash but also triumphantly returned to NASCAR, winning the Miller 400 on the same track on which he sustained his near-fatalinjuriesonly three years earlier. Irvan shares the anguish his wife, Kim, had to face; the aneurysm that caused him to endure double vision and forced him to race with a patch covering his left eye; and the determination that led to an amazing recovery and his return to racing.
Starting with Irvan's introduction to racing at age five, No Fear traces the most dramatic and inspiring story ever to come out of the dangerous and thrilling world of NASCAR. The son of two racing enthusiasts (his father was an amateur racer with more than 100 wins, and his mother competed as well), Irvan was groomed at an early age to be a stock-car racer. By age eight, he was racing dune buggies in California, and his father was teaching him the importance of maintaining a machine. As a teenager, Irvan raced stock cars and worked with such personalities as the all-or-nothing racer and car builder Ivan Baldwin.
No Fear then describes how Irvan got his break in competition, which came in 1987 when Dale Earnhardt sponsored Irvan's first Winston Cup. Soon after, he was asked to drive for independent driver D. K. Ulrich, an offer that boosted his professional career. Irvan's career gained further momentum after he was asked to drive for his first well-funded team, Morgan-McClure.
In No Fear Irvan shares many other highs and lows in his life, including:
- Divorce from his first wife, followed by the painful discovery that the two sons he had raised as his own were not his but those of another man with whom his ex-wife had been involved.
- His exhilarating but nerve-racking win at the Daytona 500, when he almost ran out of fuel crossing the finish line.
- The tragic death of NASCAR driver Davey Allison, with whom he had had a fierce rivalry, and the twist of fate that resulted in Irvan replacing Allison on the Ford team and driving his car.