Sunday Money: Speed! Lust! Madness! Death!: A Hot Lap Around America With NASCAR

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NASCAR racing, once considered no more than a regional circuit of moonshiners pounding around low-country dirt tracks in a cloud of red dust and cliché, has somehow become the fastest-growing spectator sport in America — and the buxom, bumpkin darling of Madison Avenue. With 75 million fans and its popularity soaring in every corner of the country, NASCAR is a 200-mile-an-hour traveling tent-and-revival show, a platinum-plated,multibillion-dollar V-8 hero machine — a sports entertainment empire built at the very ...

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Sunday Money: Speed! Lust! Madness! Death! A Hot Lap Around America with Nascar

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Overview

NASCAR racing, once considered no more than a regional circuit of moonshiners pounding around low-country dirt tracks in a cloud of red dust and cliché, has somehow become the fastest-growing spectator sport in America — and the buxom, bumpkin darling of Madison Avenue. With 75 million fans and its popularity soaring in every corner of the country, NASCAR is a 200-mile-an-hour traveling tent-and-revival show, a platinum-plated,multibillion-dollar V-8 hero machine — a sports entertainment empire built at the very crossroads of pop culture, corporate commerce, and American mythology.

Smart, funny, and profane, Sunday Money is the kaleidoscopic account of an entire season on the NASCAR circuit. Driving 48,000 miles in a tiny motorhome, writer Jeff MacGregor and his wife, an award-winning photographer, covered 36 races at 23 tracks in 18 states, from Daytona to Darlington, New Hampshire to California, from the Wal-Mart to the Waldorf, profiling the lives of superstar drivers like Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Stewart, their crews, and their fans, across the grinding reach of a 40-week season.

But this is not just a behind-the-scenes chronicle of America's loudest pastime. It is the story of a hundred stories; of red states and blue, of splendid Rebel lizards and golden Yankee hotshoes, of mystic true believersand their holy roll of honored ghosts. In the tradition of On the Road, Travels with Charley, and The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Sunday Money is a snapshot of American culture — of race, religion, class, sex, money, politics, and fame — taken from the window of a moving car, a brilliantly observed, keenly rendered, anddarkly comic portrait of America.

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Editorial Reviews

Jonathan Miles
Sunday Money is, for my money, the first (and maybe only) book that nonfans or casual fans or just the mildly curious should crack in order to understand the ''noise and speed and glory and death'' that is Nascar.
— The New York Times
Kirkus Reviews
A colorful year on the road chasing NASCAR and sharing track-space with its ardent fans, from fine, clever-boots sportswriter MacGregor (special contributor, Sports Illustrated). "While you were sleeping, stock-car racing became America's national pastime and baseball crawled up under the house to die," MacGregor declares. In 2001, he and his wife, whose photographs salt the text here, purchase a motor home with the drag coefficient of a refrigerated boxcar and travel from NASCAR venue to venue, from ugly, spanking-new tracks to honest little ovals. In fun, rambunctious sentences, some squirming over half a page, MacGregor crosses the breadth of the country ten times, mingling with people and absorbing the atmosphere, then spinning the happy anarchy back at us. He can make well-tooled, acidic wisecracks; provide dreamy sarcasm; and show a keen descriptive talent, whether he's eyeballing A.J. Foyt ("an inoculation against milquetoast corporatism") or a track hottie ("Uniformly: tan, tight clothes, cleavage, savage heels"). He never comes across as superior to it all-his shames and peccadilloes are all on quiet display-but his eye and ear miss almost nothing: not the history of the sport, the soft-core marketing savvy of NASCAR execs, the staggering amounts of cash involvedor the more immediate elements of the scene: the dense air of the track, "the concentration and compression of all that ambition and emotion and showmanship" or the persistent male arithmetic of horny optimism displayed through yelps of "show us your tits." He also considers the problem that lately has been echoing through ballparks and arenas everywhere: the core fan-someone he has come to know fairly well over tenmonths-being priced out of the picture as the farm is sold to skyboxers and those with the means to buy $100 daily tickets and $35 promo hats. After this piece of good old new journalism's blister of words, the season is suddenly over, the reader wishing it weren't. (photographs, plus 8 pp. color insert, not seen)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060094713
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/26/2005
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 9.48 (h) x 2.17 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeff MacGregor, a special contributor for Sports Illustrated, has written for the New York Times, The New Yorker, and Esquire. He is a six-time National Magazine Award nominee and a multiple Pushcart Prize and O. Henry Prize nominee, and his work has been anthologized in The Best American Sports Writing.

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Read an Excerpt

Sunday Money

Speed! Lust! Madness! Death! A Hot Lap Around America with Nascar
By Jeff MacGregor

HarperCollins

ISBN: 0-06-009471-0


Chapter One

This is a book about our year on the road, my wife and me, chasing NASCAR. In a motorhome.

No matter which quiet corner of America you inhabit, you've heard of NASCAR by now, and of its meteoric rise to sporting and economic prominence; hottest show on the continent, The Great Inescapable, the 200-mile-an-hour platinum-plated V-8-powered Stars and Stripes hero machine. The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing: a multibillion-dollar crossover sports entertainment empire set suddenly and squarely at the confluence of popular culture and politics and commerce and mythology.

For longtime fans of stock-car racing this wild success comes as no surprise. It was only a matter of time before everybody caught on to how sensational this whole million-horsepower traveling tent and revival deal really is, a boom sport in a bad time. And once television got hold of it, well, its coast-to-coast and border-to-border and top-to-bottom-line triumph became almost inevitable.

The casual fan, though, the nonfan, the anti-fan, thinks: How did this happen? It's the dullest thing I've ever seen! Cars driving in a circle! For four hours! It's barely a sport! The drivers aren't even athletes!

So you go to bed one night confident in your convictions and certain that everything's as it's always been in this stick-and-ball world. Next morning you wake up and while you're blowing the hot off that first cup of coffee, some statistician, some sportscaster, some condescending pop-cult socioanthropology stooge is online or on the air or on the front page telling you that NASCAR now has 75 million fans; ardent, ravenous fans, a quarter of our entire national population, more fans than Turkey has Turks or Great Britain Brits, and that no sport anywhere in the entire unhappy history of the world has ever grown so far so fast and that if there's a higher per-event attendance figure anywhere in the sports universe he/she hasn't found it yet, and that this year alone Americans are going to spend something close to $2 billion-with-a-B dollars on NASCAR-licensed gear like hats and jackets and souvenir shot glasses that read "Drive it like you stole it!"

A circle! Four hours! On top of which, NASCAR Dad gets to elect the president.

While you were sleeping, stock-car racing became America's national pastime and baseball crawled up under the house to die.

No matter where in America you try to hide from it, there it is, NASCAR, spooling out its story, making its case, thumping its tub, selling itself 24/7/365 on every flat surface in America.

Athletes or not, there are the drivers, the clear-eyed heroes, Rushmore-jawed and implacable, giving you the gunfighter squint from the magazine rack at the checkout stand. They glare down from those billboards out on the bypass, stare out from the weekly four-color insert in your local paper, smile back at you from a thousand boxes of three-for-a-buck mac-and-cheese on aisle 7. From the 10-foot 12-pack sudsweiser pyramid at the Pump 'n Run to the PS2 on your JVC to the bestseller stacks of your big-box bookstore, they are everywhere.

The cars, too, all that sleek Dee-troit iron, sculpted and sexy and not so vaguely threatening, tattooing your candy bars and your condiments, your waterproof grout and your frozen waffles.

And every one of us, from Maine to Mission Beach, is in on it, whether we chose to be or not. You can't opt out, even if you want to, even if you're stuck in neutral, even if you're among that handful of benighted citizens not yet in receipt of the glorious message of NASCAR's commercial and cultural revelations, even if you're one of those people who by God think it's all just noxious monotony and hillbilly cliche and hayseed blood sport. Fine by me, brother, but you're still a paying customer. Go to your kitchen cabinets right now, your refrigerator, your medicine chest, your nightstand, your garage, your cluttered hall closet and find a dozen dozen products proudly branded and cross-pollinated with that NASCAR stamp. Your batteries and your beer, your cookies and your corn flakes are probably running the low groove in this week's race. Your last oil change or pack of smokes or dip of chew paid for some racer's shocks or valve springs or cylinder head. You bought someone an illegal magnesium intake manifold last week when you signed up for broadband. That last 'scrip the urologist scribbled for your, um, "erectile dysfunction" meds paid a portion of Mark Martin's qualifying run at New Hampshire or Richmond or Vegas. How'd Mark Martin do this weekend? How'd you do? You're part of a hard-charging All-American NASCAR race team now, mister! Or at least a part of that hard-charging All-American hard-on ad budget.

So this is a book about NASCAR. Stories about cars and heroes and money and fame. Stories about racing, of course, and about brilliant machines and solid men and splendid women and noise and speed and glory and death. Stories about how the sport died that day with Dale Earnhardt and was born again in the very same instant. This is the story of a hundred stories, long and short, comic and tragic, sacred and profane.

It is the story of what my wife the Beep (Brilliant, Beautiful Partner) and I saw and heard on a hot lap of America, the year we crossed the breadth of the country 10 times in 10 months, shuttled up and down the East Coast for entire calendar pages and drew smooth arcs and sawteeth across every battered roadmap we had - 47,649 miles by the time we got back. More than three hundred nights on the road. Nearly a hundred auto races big and small ...

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Sunday Money by Jeff MacGregor Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 24, 2012

    Sunday Money a solid read for the Nascar Nation...

    Jeff Macgregors book Sunday Money is an enertaining look at an entire season he and his wife spent following Nascar across the nation. His writing captures the feel and thrill of Nascar racing and is contrasted by his stories and humor.The only aspect of the book i found disappointing was Macgregors views on race relations within Nascar and his attitude about the southern roots of old school Nascar fans.This i found condescending at best and superior at worst.It gave the slight feeling of elitism that eastern intellectuals, Macgregor as a Yale academic among them sometimes reflect in their writing. The book overall is worthwhile and i recommend it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2005

    Don't bother

    This book is so boring, if it ever got into the NASCAR scene, I didn't find it. If you want to learn about NASCAR, try reading books by Mark Martin, Dale Jr., Tony Stuart or DW.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2005

    Save your money and time

    MacGregor's humor is used as filler for a lack of insightful information this reader was expecting. My hope that each page would be the beginning of the real story never came.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2005

    Start your engine......buy this book!

    Don't think this book is merely a commentary on NASCAR. You would be making a HUGE mistake. It is a wonderfully funny, informative book describing fans, towns, hero's, holidays, average Joe's and much, much more. As a 54 yr old Mom I am so glad I didn't let 'the car' distract me from a great read. Be sure to enjoy every minute of the Fantasy Camp for NASCAR fans. It's the first time I got a stiff neck reading a book. I recommend this trip in a mobile home around our country. With gas prices so high it may be your vacation. Enjoy every lap of it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2005

    Very funny, very smart

    There's something for everybody in this book. It's very funny, with great characters and stories, and it also slips in many profound insights into what makes America so screwed up... and so great. Calling this a NASCAR book is like calling Great Gatsby a book about finance. It has a lot of racing stuff, but its topic is much bigger, much more interesting, and much funnier. Forget the Viagra, THIS is the perfect Father's Day gift.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2005

    An exceptionally good read

    This book contains many memorable and enjoyable moments. Jeff writes knowingly about the contours of the track, the culture of NASCAR and the joys of motoring around the country. Olya's pictures capture the energy and appeal of this sport. Their journey around the country helps fan and non-fan alike better understand the NASCAR Nation. You'll be glad you took some time to see what they learned on the road.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2005

    America, on the road

    This book is a humorous, self deprecating account of the author and his encounters with the NASCAR all American experience. He develops his story from incredulity at the spectacle of cars running in circles to a passionate affection for the drivers, pit staff, hanger's on and fans, and he generously shares his emotions as he learns the sport. It is a truly American expression of brash bravado. And, as a 50-something woman I've enjoyed every page. Susan, Miami, Fl.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2005

    It's 'NASCAR for Dummies'!

    As a midwest city boy i didn't know ANYTHING about NASCAR. My wife bought this book for me for Father's Day after seeing the author on Jay Leno because he was such a hoot! SO IS HIS BOOK!!! It blends just enough of history, techie stuff and humourous stories from the road to make this a must read for all!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2005

    Interesting Writing, Story was Weak

    I admit, I was skeptical whyen I saw 'death!' highlighted as a ploy to market the book. I still read it, and while the writing has style the book misunderstands the sport as only a newbie could. And the story bores quickly, race fan or not. No wonder his publisher felt the need to enflame to sell books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2005

    A MUST-READ!

    This book is a great, entertaining, insightful read for NASCAR and non-NASCAR fans alike. MacGregor's writing and his wife's photos brilliantly capture their journey criss-crossing America. Don't miss it!

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