Saturday, March 5, 2011

What to Read: Michael Waltrip's 'In the Blink of an Eye'

Michael Waltrip may be best known to the new generation as that guy from the NAPA commercials, but there is much more to his story. "In The Blink of an Eye" tells the evolution of Michael Waltrip, the racecar driver.

From the moment I picked up this book I did not put it down. I finished it because I truly enjoyed reading it. I laughed at Mikey's stories. One in particular sticks out; although you should read the book, I will share a bit. Michael and Dale Earnhardt Sr. were in a meeting, and apparently Michael was not paying close attention and had a confused look on his face. All of a sudden … THUD! Dale had just hit him right between the eyes with a Sharpie marker. I laughed out loud reading this, picturing the expression on Michael's face.

Michael shared his private life and dealing with the death of his personal friend and eventual car owner, Dale Earnhardt. I learned such a new side of Dale through Michael's eyes; it was truly a moving experience as a fan. If you are a Dale Earnhardt fan, this really is a must-read; there is a touching account of how Dale Earnhardt Inc. rallied after his passing. Michael let us into such a painful part of his life and recounts how he suffered through blaming himself for Earnhardt’s death.

Waltrip has had a great career; his success at the restrictor plate tracks makes him a standout at Daytona and Talladega. The book spoke of his 0-fer, meaning his zero for __ win/loss count. When he won the Daytona 500 in 2001 Michael was 0-fer 463, as Dick Berggren quickly pointed out to him in victory lane. Being patient won out, because his 0-fer streak was finally over, in the grandest win possible, the Daytona 500. That win would be overshadowed sadly by the death of Dale Earnhardt.

We know Michael the NAPA guy, Michael the car owner, Michael the booth announcer, but reading his book takes you inside Michael the person, dealing with personal tragedy and triumphs. I highly recommend this book!

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