NASCAR Then & Now by Ben White

The entire review of this coffee-table NASCAR history book might as well be boiled down to the staggering power of a single photograph, which you'll see after the jump.

NASCAR Then & Now by Ben White

Study this image of Richard Petty's home in Level Cross, North Carolina, circa 1972, and feel the majesty! The shag throw rug, itself atop an equally shaggy wall-to-wall carpet. The sideburns. The egg chair. Truly, NASCAR is the American Dream!

NASCAR Then & Now by Ben White

We get endless photographs of the so-called "safety equipment" of the early days— yeah, that flannel shirt probably isn't particularly fireproof— which makes us torn between awe of the steel nodules of these maniacs and respect for the engineers who have made the Car Of Tomorrow approximately 10,000 times safer than a '53 Hudson with electrical tape on the steering wheel and a muffler-pipe rollbar.

NASCAR Then & Now by Ben White

The title of the book says it all: you'll get vintage moonshine-runnin' black-&-white photos of hookwormy daredevils slidin' around in the dirt contrasted with the gadzillion-buck NASA-style clean rooms in which today's cars live. It's good stuff, and worth the price just for that shot of Chez Petty; I'm going to cut that page out of the book and frame it in my office. Murilee says check it out!

NASCAR Then & Now by Ben White

I'm going to give this one a Three Rod Rating (out of a possible five, with the Mercedes-Benz OM617 5-cylinder representing the pinnacle.

[Motorbooks]

View gallery »