The subject of
cheating has long been a dirty little secret in NASCAR Nextel
(formerly Winston) Cup racing. The long standing tradition of
cheating has created an aura around the series, lending
speculation on who could be doing what in the race to the
Crossing the line
between rule interpretation, and flat-out rule breaking, has
been the job of NASCAR inspectors since the early days of the
1950’s, when there was little science involved in the process of
branding one a cheater.
The updated version of Tom Jensen’s book now covers NASCAR from
the early days of inception, known as the bootleg days, to the
early part of the 2004 season. The new edition of Cheating
includes 72 more pages, 16 pages of color photographs, and a
total of 67 color and black-and-white images.
The inside look that
Jensen provides of this often sensitive topic moves his book to
the top of the “must read” list for any NASCAR fan. Some of his
discoveries will confirm rumors that have circulated for years,
others will simply amaze the reader, as the true ingenuity of
these car builders comes to light.
From 1949, when William “Big Bill” France hosted his first
National Association for Stock Car and Automobile Racing event,
to the 2004 season, France’s goal was to have close, competitive
racing all the time. Learn about the twists and turns in the
long road to achieve that goal. Discover if France was playing
by his own rules, and how he was able to build the empire that
is the NASCAR Nextel Cup series today.
The book reveals the very secrets that fans yearn to know, like
who put water and lead in wheels and tires, in order to provide
an advantage once they were swapped during an early pit stop.
Or, who was it that was utilizing hidden bottles of nitrous
oxide during the 1970’s? Maybe the fact that a method of
supercharging was utilized during this period, and was virtually
undetectable, might arouse some desire to crack the pages of
All the big names of
racing are highlighted in the book, along with some forgotten
names, like Elmer Carl Kiekhaefer of Mercury Outboard Motor
fame, that will rush back from memory as their lifestyles and
antics are reviewed in the 300 pages of the book. There is no
beating around the bush by Jensen, the tricks of the trade are
clearly highlighted, and the perpetrators easily identified. It
was, after all, the cheaters that wrote the rules, as NASCAR
uncovered the violations and prohibited them clearly in every
updated version of the rulebook.
Regardless how you slice and dice it, the roots of NASCAR are
enchanting and at times ruthless, as were many of the racing
series of yesteryear. NASCAR sprouted from its roots as a truly
American series, and has grown into a financial powerhouse
primarily on the backs of the American enthusiast.
The struggle, and
often ruthless tactics, involved in the growth of NASCAR,
closely mirror the overall struggle and growth of the United
States, which lends to the appeal of the sport today.
Who do you think
might have made the following quote in the second chapter of the
book? “If in 1947 I killed a guy in Daytona, unless he had
five eyewitnesses, they wouldn’t have bothered me”.
This type of
attitude was all too commonplace in the early days of NASCAR,
leaving little surprise when some amazing secrets of cheating
are revealed by Tom Jensen in his latest edition of Cheating, an
inside look at the bad things good NASCAR Nextel Cup racers do
in the pursuit of speed.
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