Tuesday, December 1, 2009

What to Read? Sunday Money

Ready for another book review about NASCAR? Today Katy looks into Jeff MacGregor's book Sunday Money and gives her honest opinion.



Jeff and his wife Beep, yes that's what he calls her throughout the book, have an idea. They decide to purchase a motorhome and spend 40 or so weeks on the road following the NASCAR Cup circuit. The year is 2002 and the motorhome is a 26.5 foot long beast that the couple plan to live out of as cheaply and as basic as possible. They will stay in campgrounds across the country or spend the week in the local Wal-Mart parking lot waiting for the races to come to town.  On race weekend they will move their mobile home to the track where they will camp amongst the thousands of NASCAR fans that descend when the Cup boys are in town.

Sounds like the perfect job right? Who among us hasn't thought it would be awesome to follow the entire season? Oh, did I mention that Jeff is a writer who has written pieces for Sports Illustrated and The New York Times and that his wife Beep (I think her name might be Olya) is a photographer? Jeff and Beep plan to spend the 10 months covering the circuit writing a book and letting the world know about their "Hot Lap Around America With NASCAR."

The result of this venture is the book Sunday Money written by Jeff MacGregor. The 367 page book covers the 2002 NASCAR season. A year when the country was still recovering from September 11th and a year when the NASCAR Nation was looking for a new hero after the death of Dale Earnhardt.

Sunday Money isn't your typical NASCAR book. It doesn't dive headfirst into the history of the sport and it doesn't look at things through the eyes of a fan either. MacGregor isn't your typical fan who comes to the track decked out in the gear of his favorite driver but he's not a member of the bona-fide media either. He spends a lot of time talking to fans in the parking lot or in the camping areas. He spend the first half of the book trying to find the perfect location to watch the race and still be able to understand what's going on. It's pretty obvious the guy has never covered a race before and that he's probably never even watched every lap on television either.

Some parts of the book are extremely funny while at other times it seems as if he is mocking NASCAR and it's fans. The language in the book isn't going to make everyone happy, but if you've ever been to a race and sat beside a fan who's had a few too many beers then the language isn't that bad by comparison. The book isn't about the love affair most of us have with NASCAR but more about the grueling season that never seems to end.

In the beginning of the book MacGregor covers each race but by the end you can tell his heart isn't in it and he's worn out. He sympathizes with the drivers, motorcoach drivers, and those who haul the cars across the country for most of the year. While the first half of the book is full of fun stories, interactions the ending of the book becomes the same story over and over again. It may as well read "43 drivers went out and drove around in circles for three hours. Some dudes wrecked, some dudes blew up, and a few purposefully wrecked each other. In the end some guy won and when they interviewed him he sounded like he had a mouth full of marbles...oh yeah and Tony Stewart won the Championship." Okay, so maybe it's not that bad but you can definately see that the long schedule took a toll on the writer and that he was glad to return to his New York home at the end of the season and sell his motorhome.

This book will appeal to some but others will walk away wondering why they wasted their time. It's not a book I would ever read again but it was nice to see an outsiders perspective of the sport, at least for the first 150 pages or so.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

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