FULL THROTTLE: The Life and Fast Times of NASCAR Legend Curtis Turner

Robert Edelstein, Author . Overlook $24.95 (334p) ISBN 978-1-58567-438-1

Curtis Turner dominated the sport of stock car racing and thrilled fans with his daredevil driving in the 1940s, '50s and '60s, long before NASCAR became an official racing organization. Motor sports writer Edelstein breathlessly recounts Turner's career as well as his significant contributions to the sport. Turner (1924–1970) started driving his father's car at age nine; by the time he was a teenager, he was running moonshine in the Virginia hills, becoming famous for his ability to outrun cops. During those years, Turner perfected a move immortalized by Burt Reynolds in his Smokey and the Bandit movies: he'd slam on the brakes, spin a complete 180 to face his pursuers and escape. Turner moved on to racing at dirt tracks throughout the South, driving with the reckless abandon he'd learned as a teenage 'shine runner. His personal life moved quickly, too: he became a millionaire many times, but spent the money as quickly as he earned it, often on failed business ventures, women and parties. Edelstein is impressed by Turner's accomplishments (and rightly so); he effusively chronicles one after another (e.g., Turner's status as the first race car driver pictured on Sports Illustrated 's cover; his building of the Charlotte Motor Speedway) and draws on concrete sourcing—based on Turner's personal files—to give the book depth and perspective. Photos. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 01/10/2005
Release date: 02/01/2005
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