The book is Sunday Money, A Hot Lap Around America with NASCAR, written by Jeff MacGregor, a senior writer with ESPN. The basic facts are that MacGregor and his wife got themselves a small motorhome and cris-crossed the U.S., following the NASCAR season, trying to understand how and why the sport has become so popular and pervasive.
The time was 2002. The nation was reeling from the September 11 attacks, and a certain subset of the nation was reeling also from another blow: the death of Dale Earnhardt. MacGregor is a man who gets how sports tap into our collective human psyche, but he doesn’t really yet understand NASCAR, so he sets out in search of enlightenment. The journey I took with him gave me a new level of insight into racing and the fan experience.
But all of this makes it sounds hifalutin and boring—which it most definitely is not. In fact, the book is freaking hilarious. MacGregor is a great writer, regardless of topic or genre. I've read the book three times, and I laughed out loud at a couple scenes every single time. And then again when my husband read them. (I’ll pay you a dollar if you don’t laugh at his description of driving the motorhome for the first time.)
So if you're curious why more than 75 million Americans have joined "NASCAR Nation" or why you see race car drivers emblazoned across commercial product packaging, read Sunday Money. You'll be entertained and enlightened ... about NASCAR, of all things. I’d like to hear what you think.
Happy Independence Day!