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NASCAR fans have the natural tendency to focus on all of the men
involved with the sport. After all, they are the ones driving the
racecars, selling products in the commercials, and being interviewed
on the television. What everyone tends to overlook are the
contributions that women have made to the sport of stock car racing.
Denise Wood has produced a book entitled NASCAR Women at the Heart
of Racing that will be sure to enlighten you in this regard.
Denise Wood has been involved with racing since 1989, first as a
journalist in Richmond and Norfolk. She then took a position in 1995
with Sports Marketing Enterprises and has done public relations work
with RCA and Roush Racing. Denise has done a wonderful and thorough
job of researching and interviewing 13 of NASCARís most notable
Although I have seen many of these women at the racetracks from time
to time, I had little knowledge of the paths they took to get where
they are. Each of these women went through a unique journey in life,
sometimes suffering heartaches along the way. And although the
stories of racecar drivers are more well known, the lives of these
13 women are just as compelling.
The book is full of interesting facts about not only these
particular women, but also their families and the others around them
that they have supported and inspired. Here are some of the bookís
tidbits to whet your appetite:
A few of these women, including Matt
Kensethís wife Katie, surprisingly knew nothing about racing when
they met up with racecar drivers for the first time.
Pattie Petty, a former Winston girl,
changed the spelling of her first name when she married Kyle, who
was eight years her senior!
Most of the driverís families went
through very lean financial situations up until the late 1990ís,
prior to the common use of private airplanes and motorhomes.
Stevie Waltrip, Darrellís wife, was key
in obtaining access to the garage area for all the driverís wives.
Up until the mid 1980ís, access had always been denied and frowned
Driverís girlfriends had difficulty
being accepted by the racing community until they became their
think the overwhelming theme of this book is the total life change
these women had to make in order to become supporters of the men
they loved. Many gave up their careers or their college studies, and
moved half way across the country to be with their men. The strains
of the racing industry are not restricted to just the drivers, teams
and owners. The wives and families also pay the price of sacrifice
for the ultimate goal of competing and winning.
And this book is not just about driverís wives. The author also
discusses women like Gail Davis, Lesa France Kennedy, Danielle Frye,
Jackie Pegram and Deb Williams, who have been integral to the
success of NASCAR in such roles as car owners, presidents,
journalists and contributors to the Motor Racing Outreach program.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in
racing. As a fellow racing journalist, I learned a great deal about
these individuals and the racing business in general. Even a person
who knows nothing about racing would find this a compelling story of
the lives of very special people. And one more thing Ė it is worth
the price of admission just to browse through the plentiful and
never before published pictures supplied by the women themselves.
After all, who wouldnít want to see pictures of Pattie and Kyle
Petty on their wedding day?
The author can be contacted firstname.lastname@example.org
to discuss this article