by G. Wayne Miller
Men and Speed
PublicAffairs, May, 2002.
Hardcover, 320 pages.
Who can forget Tom Cruise in Topgun yelling, "I feel the need for speed!"? Fighter pilots, race car drivers and extreme sports enthusiasts all understand this compelling need to go faster, farther and to live life on the edge. But what about the rest of us? What is this addiction that drives certain men -- and a few women -- to push the envelope in the search for the ultimate speed thrill? Award-winning reporter and author G. Wayne Miller decided to find out for himself.
Immersion reporting, where the reporter actually becomes immersed in the world of the subject for a long period of time, is one of the most difficult types of reporting to do well -- and Miller is one of the very best. For Men and Speed, Miller spent two years with NASCAR's top racing team, Roush Racing. Given unprecedented access by racing legend Jack Roush, Miller was privy to the behind the scenes activities of an event-filled Winston Cup season that was to see the death of icon Dale Earnhardt, massive controversies about safety issues in racing and the dashed hopes of a championship season for the Roush team of Mark Martin, Jeff Burton, Matt Kenseth, and Kyle Busch. Miller takes the reader inside the Roush Industries engine design rooms, the garages, the pits, the drivers' trailers (or haulers), and even behind the wheel of a world class stock car to find out the real story of what it's like to be a Winston Cup racer.
What emerges is a mesmerizing portrait of an incredibly dangerous and exciting sport. The book is compelling with its attention to detail, humor and real compassion for its subjects: the men who will endure just about anything for another trip to Victory Lane. Miller has Tom Wolfe's eye for detail and ear for conversations, and his insights are always informative and entertaining. His prose style reads more like an compelling novel than a nonfiction work, and those not familiar with racing will easily forget that these gripping tales are real -- not imagined. The moving stories of bravery, winning, and defeat, and the exploration of the addictive nature of speed make this a must-read: not only for race fans, but for non-enthusiasts who will finally understand once and for all what all the fuss is about. Highly recommended.
--Claire E. White
Men and Speed is available for purchase on Amazon.com
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This review was published in the May, 2002 of The Internet Writing Journal.
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