Header image

I had been anticipating the release of “Jeff Gordon: His Dream, Drive, & Destiny” by Joe Garner since I first heard about it.  I had it preordered at Amazon- and then cancelled my preorder because I found out I could get it sooner if I ordered it directly from Jeff Gordon’s online store.  I admit I had slight trepidation when I found out it was a biography and not an autobiography because sometimes biographies to me can seem a big like a flat historical account of someone’s life and I often times have trouble reading those kind of books but I ordered it anyway because if nothing else it would make for something right up Badgroove’s alley for the #NASCAR Reading List.  Well I have finally finished it (more on that later in the review) and I have to say that I absolutely  adored this biography about Jeff Gordon both on and off the track.

While the title might seem lofty “Jeff Gordon: His Dream, Drive and Destiny” this book does discuss his dreams and focuses immensely on his drive to get there and what decisions he made when and why. This book by Joe Garner tells Jeff Gordon’s whole story from his humble beginnings in Vallejo, California right up to the man he is today and everything in between. And let me tell you this book was not the “flat historical” type of biography that I have seen many books about racers become.  The writing in this book is quite engaging and interesting and I learned a LOT about Jeff Gordon that I didn’t really know before including one very surprising fact about him and Dale Earnhardt Sr that I will keep under my hat so that you are just as surprised to read about it when I was.  My favorite thing about the book was that his parents and friends took such a huge role in the telling of Jeff’s story through their eyes. Kudos to them for taking part in telling the story of who is sure to be a Hall of Fame driver.

Because “Jeff Gordon: His Dream, Drive & Destiny” is the first ever authorized biography of Jeff Gordon- it has many full color photos not just of Jeff and his family through the various stages of his life and his racing career but of Jeff Gordon memorabilia as well adoring the pages. It even discussed things such as the alienation of his parents after his first marriage and his divorce ad well. It also goes into fatherhood and how it effected him. This book was truly a delight to read and it will take a proud place on my racing bookshelf- which was so full already I had to rearrange the racing shelf just to make it fit.

Joe Garner’s book about Jeff Gordon is 192 thick glossy pages chocked full of color photos.  My only complaint about this book is the size. It’s a large coffee table book at 8.5 in by 11.8 inches and is a heavy book weighing in at nearly 3 lbs- which is why it took me so long to read it. While it’s absolutely gorgeous- it’s also not the kind of book you can cuddle up with in bed or throw in your purse to read during lunch break at work. I have smallish hands and it was just awkward to hold for me to read for any length of time at one sitting.

That said, if you are a NASCAR fan I would suggest a read- I don’t think you will be disappointed and you will certainly learn something new- I sure did. If you are a Jeff Gordon fan- it’s obviously one of those must read, must own items.

About The Author:  Joe Garner is a former radio executive and author who lives in Los Angeles, CA. He has authored 11 media-enhanced books, which have sold more than 2-million hardcover copies, and achieved multiple New York Times best sellers. Joe’s books have also been bestsellers in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Publisher’s Weekly. He had worked with Jeff Gordon in 2006 on the book SPEED, GUTS & GLORY, about landmark moments in NASCAR history where Gordon narrated the video chapters that accompanied the book. You can find out more about Joe Garner on his website: JoeGarnerCompany.com or on twitter @JoeGarnerAuthor.

Related Fun Fact: BadGroove had the opportunity to interview Jeff Gordon back in 2012- with Misty taking point on that interview. You can find it located here.

___________________________________________

For Full-Disclosure purposes (I am looking at you FTC): I purchased this book with my own money and reviewed it because that’s what I do occasionally for this website. Not only did I purchase the book but the opinion about the book is also my own.  No books were harmed in the making of this review. 

Click here for other installments of Amy’s #NASCAR Reading List

As my readers know, I will occasionally post a book review here and there when I come across something race or car related that I think my readers will enjoy.  I have been lucky enough to read several this year but I have three more that I would like to present to you as my three most standout books from 2016 as the year draws to a close today. These books are all for the car enthusiast and are of the coffee table variety.  Here are my standouts in reverse order: (more…)

(cover art provided by publisher)

I’m a Chevy girl. Three out of the four everyday driver vehicles I have owned in my life thus far, including my current Equinox, have been Chevrolet. My parents currently own two Chevrolet vehicles as well (A 2012  Malibu and a 2017 Silverado High Country). I am a Chevy girl through and through.  When the “new” Camaro debuted I drooled and seriously considered making it my next car. I didn’t because it’s a bit impractical for someone who commutes on a 5-day a week basis and drives 1000 miles on road trips a year. Plus I’d cry if it got dinged and I park amongst college students who don’t seem to care if they fling their doors into the side of your car, drag their backpacks along the side of you car SUV, or tap your truck in the parking lot. Plus, in all honesty, one of the biggest reasons I didn’t get a Camaro is that I’d likely get myself into trouble with a high performance modern day muscle car like the Camaro because let’s face it- I already have kind of a lead foot. So, instead I drool at the ones at the dealership when I take my Equinox in  for service or give ones I run across in the wild a long, loving look (I promise I am just admiring it not casing it Camaro owners).

I was not disappointed by Larry Edsall’s Camaro 2016: Chevrolet’s Modern Performance Car.  This book is made for the Camaro enthusiast.

The book details the blood, sweat, tears and engineering behind the newest Gen6 Camaro and details it’s ultimate production. But first it starts with a little bit of history- detailing several of the previous generations of Camaros and the return of the Camaro in 2010 which to be successful needed to satisfy the expectations of both longtime staunch Camaro/Chevy enthusiasts as well as catch the eye and imagination of newer car enthusiasts- which no doubt was a daunting task.

The the book gets into the good stuff- what went into the Gen6 Camaro creation including one of my favorite parts of the book the four pages of concept design illustrations of the Gen6 in Chapter 4. But don’t be fooled- the book doesn’t just talk about the design concept but instead goes in depth with chapters on the design and features of the exterior, interior, power plant under the hood, even the assembly plant and the launch of the car in May 2015.  Basically- this book is the birth story of the Gen6 Camaro complete with a shout out to it’s direct family tree.

While I highly recommend this book- it is for different reasons than I usually recommend books of this nature. This one I don’t merit solely on it’s photography – not that there isn’t any- there is and it’s fine representations of the drool-worthy Camaro- but I actually recommend Camaro 2016 based on the words that tell the story of the Camaro from many perspectives and includes the voices of the very people involved with the designing and making of this modern iconic car, right down to people on the assembly line.

The book itself is a wonderful, high quality 160 page hardback book that includes both color and a few black and white photos that is 9.8 inches by 11.2 inches…just perfect for the car room, living room or book shelf of your favorite Camaro or Chevy enthusiast.

Author Larry Edsall spent 12 years at AutoWeek magazine after working as a sportswriter/editor for daily newspapers in Michigan. He then moved on to establish editorial content for automotive websites and was featured on the National Geographic television special “Driven.” He’s the author of nearly 20 books, is the editorial director of ClassicCars.com, writes a weekly feature for the detroit news and is an adjunct faculty member at the school of journalism and mass communications for Arizona State University.  You can find some of his writings here on ClassicCars.com or you can find him on twitter @LarryEdsall.

____________________________

For Full-Disclosure purposes (I am looking at you FTC): I received a copy of Camaro 2016: Chevrolet’s Modern Performance Car from the publisher for the possibility of review on this blog. The words and opinions on the book are my own. 

Click here for other installments of Amy’s #NASCAR Reading List

(This post was originally published on July 15th, 2014 based solely on the audio book but happy day it’s now been released as an ebook available on Amazon so I thought I would reshare this review because this short story is so dang awesome and suspenseful! — Amy):

“I am the car and the car is me.” Martin Warwick in Tenths of a Second a short story by Simon Wood

Racers know that racing is a slippery slope of talent, speed, technology and for the up and coming racer sponsorship money (to buy the technology to create the speed to showcase the talent). It’s a sport where, to up-and-coming drivers, tenths of a second can mean the difference between hoisting a trophy in victory lane and having to scrounge around for the money to get to the track for the next race with equipment that may or may not be competitive enough to garner you with anything more than an “also ran” performance.

This is extremely evident to Martin Warwick, protagonist in Tenths of a Second, and driver in the open wheel Formula Ford racing series (yes it’s a real racing series- here is the Formula Fords wiki page if you are curious). He knows he has what it takes to make it as a professional driver but his equipment isn’t of the quality that can get him a performance that will showcase his driving talents. That is until the mysterious Mr. Mallory shows up in Martin’s garage stall at a race with an intriguing offer. While Mallory doesn’t have the much needed sponsorship money Martin’s hoping for, he has an experimental telemetry system that governs the car and driver. Mallory assures that utilizing his system will get Martin the type of performance that will turn heads and have sponsors throwing money his way. Martin signs up with Mallory deciding that he might as well give the developmental system a go because even if it’s a total flop at least it will get him a much needed engine rebuild and testing time at a track before the next race.

“Success was my nourishment, friend, lover and soul mate.” Martin Warwick in Tenths of a Second a short story by Simon Wood

As a result of his partnership with Mallory, Martin quickly finds him self on the fast track to the career as a professional racer that he has been yearning for. The question is at what cost will those precious tenths of a second come and is it worth it for Martin?

Tenths of a Second is a short story by Simon Wood.  Let me assure you that there is nothing usual about this story and it’s telling. I was first exposed to this story as an audio short story and will be the first to admit that I don’t tend towards audio books at all because I find if I am not engaged with the actual reading of something my mind wanders and I lose interest. THIS WAS NOT THE CASE with this story.  At first Tenths of a Second is like pulling up a chair and reminiscing with a friend as he tells his story, but with plot twists (no spoilers here) that Simon Wood does so well.  I highly recommend this short story! Order Tenths of a Second today- it is well worth the $0.99 trust me!!

Simon Wood probably sounds familiar- I have reviewed his Aidy Westlake Racing Mysteries novels Did Not Finish and Hot Seat for BadGroove as well as interviewed the author himself.  Simon is a prolific author, ex-professional race car driver, and a licensed pilot. You can find out more about Simon and his books on his website.

Recently I reviewed for you the book American Muscle Cars and if you haven’t been following my blog very long you probably got the idea that I love muscle cars. And while I don’t have the money nor the space to store a car collection- I like to think if I ever did  win the lottery so that money and space wasn’t an issue I would have a car collection and it would be heavy in American muscle. Anyway today I get to bring to your attention another beautiful book about American muscle cars called Wide-Open Muscle: The Rarest Muscle Car Convertibles by Randy Leffingwell and photographer Tom Loeser.

This book focuses on what is perhaps the least practical cars manufactured during the height of the American muscle car genre of the 1960s and early 1070s- the convertible.  The cars within the covers of Wide-Open Muscle are highly sought after and pricey in today’s collector’s market.  These cars were heavy, stuff and definitely not made for a casual Sunday drive- these were made to street race. (more…)

Hello my fellow readers and race fans- can you believe I already have another entry for the #NASCAR Reading list? And boy do I have another great book for you to add to your TBR lists!  That book would be the The Sheer Force of Will Power by David Malsher. I usually run hot or cold when it comes to biographies or autobiographies but as a race fan I LOVE this one! Maybe it’s because of it’s witty title (I mean seriously why didn’t make the correlation before between willpower and Will Power), or because my first race was an IndyCar race but when I was offered an opportunity to read this book for review purposes I jumped on it. I am so glad that I did.

First off, I use to be hard core into IndyCar driving back when the series was called CART.  When the series broke up to form IRL and CHAMP I kind of drifted back to NASCAR for my fandom. Now I am a devout NASCAR (Tony Stewart) fan yet I am a still a casual fan of IRL. If there is race on and I don’t have anything better to do I will watch it. Of course this holds true any time any type of motorsports- the other day I was watching dirt bikes because it was the only racing I could find, but I digress. So I “know” the IRL drivers in that, I know their names, car number, sponsors…the basics. But I don’t know their stories.  This book gave me the chance to dive into Will Power’s story and get to know Will on a deeper level. But I don’t think you have to be a Will Power fan to appreciate his story.

“You can’t leave it to drivers and say to them, ‘Take care of each other out there.’ That’s bullshit. We are paid to win, so we’ll do whatever it takes to win, and if that means going four-wide one inch apart, that’s what we are going to do.” – Will Power, pg 254,  Power, W., & Malsher, D. (n.d.). The sheer force of Will Power.

The book starts off with him growing up a child who “played racing” as a child. Of course it didn’t hurt that his father was a grassroots racer in Australia.  It follows his career through his eyes and the eyes of those closest to him, including his family and close friends.  It spans the course of his racing from a young boy in Toowoomba Australia (and now I know where the name of my favorite dish at the Outback comes from) as an up and coming driver in Australia, to his move to England for F1 and then eventually to America and then to Indy car and everything in between.  The book aptly covers both the extreme highs of winning a championship and the lowest of lows throughout different points in Will’s carrer. There are parts of Will’s career that will ring true to any racer, any style of motorsports- especially his early struggles to attain much needed sponsorship money as an early racer in Australia, to what could have been a terrible career ending injury at Sonoma Raceway. And then there is living the horrifying accident at Las Vegas Motor Speedway that took fellow driver Dan Wheldon’s life through Will’s eyes. Let’s just say it was a good thing I wasn’t wearing mascara when I read that chapter. (more…)

I love to read. It’s how I learn, how I escape. It’s something I try to do every day if and when possible. And when I come across books that I think fellow NASCAR fans would love I review them here- I have been doing it awhile now and you can read back through all those different book reviews here.  A few years ago I was introduced to the Kate Reilly Mystery series by author Tammy Kaehler. I was asked to review book two- which I jumped right into no quite realizing it was the second book of a series- and while the book read fine (and I LOVED it) by itself- I found myself compelled to go back to the first book and read that. I have been hooked on the Kate Reilly mysteries ever since and greatly anticipate the next one coming out. The reason these books fall into something I can review here on BG is because Kate Reilly just happens to be a young up-and-coming racer and the books tend to center each around one particular race.  When I saw on the author’s facebook page that the fourth installment of the series, Red Flags, was due this month I was beyond excited and not just because I would have a fiction book to review which I haven’t had in awhile, but because I LOVE these books.

You know that feeling when you are reading a series, or even just a new book by an author that you love and you are greatly anticipating the release of that book, but in the back of your mind you worry that you will be disappointed? I had that worry with this book because in my mind I had hyped it up and was so excited for the release that I couldn’t imagine it would live up to the hype in my head.  Well luckily for us all- it not only lived up to it- but it surpassed it.  I dare say that Red Flags is the best book in the currently four book series to date. And with that I will say while this book could probably be read as a standalone you will find it a much richer reading experience to read the other three books in the series (Deadman’s Switch, Braking Points, Avoidable Contact).

Now onto this book: Kate Reilly is a busy busy racer. She arrives in Long Beach for the Grand Prix of Long Beach busy- she is not just racing her car in the Sportscar event, but she is also coaching a celebrity driver in the pro-am race, and taking one of the steps towards her big dream- testing an Indycar in Fontana. Not to mention meeting with her two biggest sponsors- Frame Savings and Beaute. Yet the first thing we see of Kate in Long Beach? She is identifying the body of her despised cousin Billy who has Kate’s hero card in his pocket at the time of his obvious murder.  She vows that this time she will leave it to the authorities but of course she gets roped into investigating who might be responsible in this mystery that has more turns than a road course.  I don’t want to get too much into plot points with this book because I don’t want to spoil anything…but as far as plot lines go I was guessing who was responsible from the beginning and who I thought killed Billy and who actually ended up killing Billy? I never suspected that person. (more…)

(American Muscle Cars: A Full Throttle History)

If you have read BadGroove for awhile, you know that I am lucky enough to get to preview some of the most beautiful books about cars (and car photography) for my readers. I love to do it because it combines my long time love of cars with my long time love of books and photography. Anyway- I have been chomping at a the proverbial bit to get my hands on this latest book, American Muscle Cars: A Full-Throttle History since the publisher sent me a list of books I might be interested in. Also if you have been reading BadGroove for awhile, then it comes as no surprise that I have a thing for cars in general- not just race cars.  And while I love and can appreciate a lovely sporty Ferrari or Lamborghini to me there is nothing more iconic, more representative of the word “car,” and nothing that will make me whip my head around faster to get another look than American muscle cars.  In my “fantasy” car collection, you know, the one in my head with the cars I would love to afford to own but can not because of money, space, time and well mostly money, American muscle cars are the most prevalent cars in that car collection.

American Muscle Cars: A Full-Throttle History is just what it the title states- a chronological history of the American muscle cars from it’s infancy in the early 1960 through the cars coming out of Chevy, Dodge and Ford today as told by author Darwin Holmstrom and photographer Tom Glatch. But really the book is so much more. It’s a song to the era that born the machine. (more…)