Monday, April 28, 2008

NASCAR 101

It all started with Prohibition in the 1920s and 30s, bootleggers running moonshine from one place to another. And now?

42 % of NASCAR fans are women. Huh? Don’t get the popularity?

Once upon a time, I didn’t get it either, and then, some years back, I was in South Dakota one cold February for my nephew’s wedding and my sister and her husband made me sit down and watch my first Daytona 500. From then on, I was hooked.

No, these days I don’t watch the races every weekend, but 75 million other people apparently do. I catch the races when I can now. But I can tell you that after watching that first race back in South Dakota I couldn’t believe a romance hadn’t been written revolving around this fascinating and complex world.

This is not your average sport, baseball, basketball, football or hockey, all of which I have watched and have never gotten all that charged over. This is sexy, larger than life men, putting their lives as risk, week in and week out. This is adrenaline. Fast cars. Competition. Egos. Tempers. Alotta money on the line. And, most importantly, it’s a generational sport. So you’ve got history. Big time.

That means …

This crew chief’s daughter could be hot for that rival driver. A veteran may have been involved in a crash decades ago that killed the father of a rookie. The widow of a famous owner might now be dating a competitor. You’ve got step-mothers as owners, cousins as spotters, dads as crew chiefs, and on and on and on.

I drove home from my nephew’s wedding with characters and plotlines running through my brain like Red Bull. I could do this. I could do that. Susan Elizabeth Phillips set her books around a football team. I was going to set mine around racing. My fingers were flying across the keyboard the day I got back home.

You know why? Because when you watch a NASCAR race, you’re not just watching today’s competition. You’re watching the present build upon the past. And NASCAR’s past is one heckuva a colorful one!

Have you ever watched a NASCAR race? Did you find it interesting? What do you think about the whole concept of Harlequin NASCAR romances?

What about the drivers? Do you have a favorite?


My third book, Peak Performance, the 6th in the 2008 Secrets and Legends Harlequin NASCAR series is out now. Check it out. I promise, you don’t need to like racing to love this book!

It’s been reviewed in Library Journal, Michelle Buofiglio’s myLifetime.com, CataRomance, and Romantic Times BOOKreviews.

Some interesting info for you:

NASCAR stands for the National Association of Stock Car Racing.

NASCAR is made up of the Sprint Cup (the highest level and most widely known Sunday afternoon races), the Nationwide (used to be called Busch series - Saturday nights) series and the Craftsman Truck (Friday nights) series.

William France Sr. started all hoopla, and his son Bill France Jr. brought the dream to fruition. Today, Bill Jr.’s kids, Brian and Lesa, carry on the tradition, and are quickly racing into as mainstream of a sport as it’s ever been.

NASCAR is the 2nd highest rated regular season sport on TV with broadcasts in more than 150 countries.

NASCAR teams race 36 races over a 41 week schedule, running from February to November each year.

NASCAR holds 17 of the top 20 attended sporting events in the US.

43 cars start each Sprint cup race, compared with 22 in Formula One and 18-20 in Indy.

Mario Andretti is the only driver to have ever won the Indianapolis 500, NASCAR’s Daytona 500, and the Formula One World Championship.

Happy Monday!
Helen

19 comments:

Betina Krahn said...

Congratulations, Helen! Sounds like another fabulous Brenna book! I can't wait to get this one!

I was stunned, back in the 90's to have my older son (Mister Preppy--now a lawyer) get wildly into NASCAR. He now has three little ones, but he still catches races occasionally. He LOVES it and he talks to me about it from time to time. He has a NASCAR buddy who watches races with him-- and loves the power and intrigue and rivalry of the circuits as much as the races themselves.

So I kinda get it. It's a remarkable phenomenon. And down here, my nephew-in-law is a doctor for the Sebring races each winter. He keeps trying to get me to go (he gets complimentary tickets) but the noise prevents me from accepting. I have a thing about noise.

Congratulations and-- I'm heading to the bookstore later today!

Helen Brenna said...

Thanks, Betina. Maybe I should've asked who do you know into NASCAR? We might not watch it ourselves, but know someone who's crazy about it.

I hear you on the noise factor. It does bother a lot of people. You really can't go to a race and enjoy it without wearing a headset. It blocks most of the engine noises and lets you listen to either individual drivers or the news folks.

I get such a kick out of listening to the drivers actually talking to their crew during a race.

Cindy Gerard said...

Hey Helen. Congrats on the new release! It looks wonderful.
I'm not a NASCAR fan, per se but my kids and my hubby like to watch it from time to time. I do enjoy the drama attached and the rivalries and IF there's nothing else on to watch and I have nothing else to do, I might sit down and watch the tail end of a race. And yes, I do get excited when I do :o) I think that it's wonderful that so many women are into what many would perceive as a man's sport. Yeah, girl power!!

Helen Brenna said...

Speaking of girl power - Danica Patrick finally winning a Formula One race. How cool is that?

Of course, they're now talking about her possibly switching to NASCAR. She's a Wisconsin native.

Playground Monitor said...

I grew up 9 miles from the Lowe's Motor Speedway (it was called Charlotte Motor Speedway back then) and was born 19 days before Dale Sr. in the same hospital. My mama knows his mama Martha. But I've never been to a race or caught NASCAR fever. But thanks to it, my little home county in North Carolina has the second highest per capita income in the state and has a really nice regional airport the drivers use to fly in and out of.

Now I live a couple hours from Talledega and I'm not sure I'd go to a race either. A friend told me she went to a race with her husband and kids and were surrounded by people smoking pot, drinking heavily and cursing, and women were flashing their upper anatomy. I'm not a prude by any means, but that doesn't sound like much like the place I'd like to be aside from the noise, the wrecks and the price of tickets.

Ear plugs. My mom used to get tickets through the newspaper where she worked (and she knows the man who built the speedway) and she said you had to wear ear plugs or risk deafness.

Interesting trivia: an acquaintance's son is autistic but at the high-functioning level and he loves NASCAR. He can quote all the drivers' statistics and tell you anything you want to know. His mom says watching the cars on the track satisfies his need to watch things go round and round. It's more socially acceptable to watch cars go round than lie on the floor and watch the ceiling fan blades.

All that being said, I've read several of the NASCAR romances and loved them. I get the excitement and thrill (and a little romance) without the cost, the noise and the rowdy spectators. ::g::

Marilyn

Helen Brenna said...

Marilyn, I think the rowdy behavior is most people's perception of NASCAR events. I've stayed in the campgrounds and it can get, putting it mildly, interesting.

Most sports, though, have that element. I've been to some local pro football games and witnessed some nasty drunken behavior.

The races can get particularly bad, probably because they're entire weekend events attended by a lot of adults.

NASCAR mgmt is trying really hard to develop a more family friendly environment. Most tracks have family seating areas. And these books all have to be PG to PG-13. They read every one!

Playground Monitor said...

You have a point. I live in Alabama, where football is a religion, and those games get really bad. You usually come home smelling like beer.

Congrats on the success of your book. I see my TBR pile growing by one NASCAR romance. ::g::

M

Michele Hauf said...

I'm not a NASCAR fan, but the hubby is big time. That's his sport. I sent him to a race for his 40th B-day (with my son) in Daytona. They had a blast, and my son still occasionally imitates the drunk guy on the bus. (Only imitation!)

Anyway, I've never watched a race, but I don't need to. I can just read Helen's book. And how much do I love that gorgeous sexy smile on the guy on your cover! It's already sitting on my bedside table, ready to go.

Amy Addison said...

I remember going to races with my Dad when I was little. But that was in my hometown of Long Beach, CA. Not sure what they were called (but they were car races...give me a break, I was 8!).

My sister is a NASCAR nut, and my kids love it, but I've never actually watched a race as an adult.

But now, when I have time, I'll try it.

Helen Brenna said...

Marilyn, hockey can get pretty wild too!!

Wow, Michele, that's a cool bday pres for the dh. Race tickets aren't cheap! He'll probably never forget that experience.

Yay, Amy! My first CONVERT!

There are all kinds of different races, Amy, so I'm not surprised you don't remember. Dirt track, short track, superspeedway. Open wheel, stock car, funny car. Crash derbies. You name it!

I grew up not too far from a track, but never went. Probably because my dad wasn't a fan back then. Now, though, he loves it.

Susan Kay Law said...

I don't think anybody in my close family or friends are Nascar fans. I have a feeling I'll like the slightly romanticized version in your book far more than the real thing.

I went to a major formula 1 race once (dh was taking a client) and it was fascinating for about ten minutes.

But then, I like football, and I LOVE basketball.

Susie

Helen Brenna said...

Yeah, Susie, I have a feeling there are a lot of readers who will like the books and not necessarily watching the races. It'll be interesting to see if we get much crossover from other lines or vice versa.

I'd love to see an F1 race some time. They're definitely different than NASCAR. A little faster, but drivers don't jockey for position quite as much. Some spectacular crashes, though. Ashely's Judd's husband wrecked a month or so back. That was a doozy.

Helen Brenna said...

He walked away from the crash just fine. Safety's improved so much these days.

Debra Dixon said...

Well, Helen, I'm like the great unwashed because I live in the South and I've never been a NASCAR fan. It's my dirty little secret.

The fans in the South are legion!

My husband happens to be a drag race kind of guy so we never got into the NASCAR scene.

Debra Dixon said...

Oh, and the book looks great. I never mind a little sexy race car action in a book. :)

Congrats, yet another book for the TBR pile.

How do people not have TBR piles? So many books and so little time. If you don't get them when they're first out you may never get them again! I have to buy books whether I can read them right that second or not. It's not a luxury. (g)

Helen Brenna said...

Deb, yep, lots of southern NASCAR fans, but you're not alone as a hold out. I've always thought drag racing looks fun too. I'd actually love to try it!!

My TBR pile always just grows and grows and grows ...

Christie Ridgway said...

Helen: Congrats on the new release! I know I'd enjoy the book more than the races themselves. I have to admit I don't really get any kind of sport. I =can= get into it, watching a game if I have someone to root for, but then afterward I think I should have just read a book. And then, thinking of the reality of car races, it makes me think of the gas used. (I just filled up my car today. Yikes.)

But see, reading a romance, I never have to think about all that kind of stuff and just enjoy the book. Yeah!

Liza said...

Congrats on the new release Helen. I admit that I'm not a NASCAR fan, but do enjoy reading about the races. My dad loves NASCAR! I think the only time I've ever watched any of the races is when I'm home for a visit. He of course has the tv at top volumn so you can feel like your are at the track. I don't really enjoy the noise of the track, but have no problem going to a Titans game with 68,000 other fans.

Helen Brenna said...

The gas. Oy. Christie, let's just not go there!

Good to know, Liza. I'm glad we've got people who aren't fans still interested in reading the books. There's been a lot of speculation about that.

It'll be interesting to find out.