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Publishers Weekly, 2010-01-04 Stock car racing had long been a Southern phenomenon, but 1979 changed everything. A fight at the live, nationally televised Daytona 500 between Bobby Allison and Cale Yarborough helped, especially since monstrous snowstorms over the race's weekend essentially made the East housebound, contributing to big ratings. There was more to NASCAR's rise to legitimacy, according to Bechtel, a senior editor at Sports Illustrated. From cowboy boots to Smokey and the Bandit, America was becoming consumed with the South's culture, and NASCAR fell right in line. A fledgling television network called ESPN needed sports programming to fill its schedule, and NASCAR was happy to oblige. Hotshot rookie Dale Earnhardt's fearless driving and working-class appeal landed a legend and the foundation of its future popularity. Throughout, Bechtel uses the 1979 NASCAR season as his backdrop, profiling the motley crew of racers and executives who were at the forefront. What could have been a painful juggling act becomes an illuminating, informative, and entertaining read, as the engaging and droll Bechtel is in complete control from start to finish. 8-page color insert. (Feb.) Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
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