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"Sunday Money"

This article is more than 14 years old.

"Sunday Money" is an altogether strange and wonderful book. In the subtitle, author Jeff MacGregor promises "speed! lust! madness! death!" And certainly, the text is rife with all of the above.

The speed is so constant that it's sometimes boring. Fans at some of the NASCAR stops actually fall asleep during races, or fall unconscious, actually, beaten into submission by the combination of heat, noise, and alcohol. The lust has to do in part with women whom the lads of the land of grease and oil and stinking rubber call "pit lizards." They twitch and sway when they walk and dress hardly at all. The madness is self evident, as is the death. Some of the stories MacGregor tells involve men who have died in flames with broken necks, and many of them involve Dale Earnhardt, who, like Elvis, is dead but will not die.

If you like NASCAR, you'll like portions of "Sunday Money" and be outraged by other portions, because Jeff MacGregor is too smart to buy the whole package without carefully turning the product over and over in his hands until he sees its blemishes as well as the way it shines. But this book is really for people who enjoy drafting behind a writer who finds in fleeting images at the races clues to what we've become: a nation addicted to loud thrills and bright colors, a crowd happy to grasp and cling to a notion of patriotism built on plentiful oil and Wal-Mart — concepts worth defending to the death.

If you pass up "Sunday Money" because you have no interest in auto racing, God help you when the terrifying flyover comes to herald the high octane, mega- horsepower circus hurtling toward you and those you love.

This program aired on May 13, 2005. The audio for this program is not available.

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