I finished this book with some unexpected excellent time. The day I finish this very good book on the experiences of a Black racing team trying to break into NASCAR was the day that Bubba Wallace became the second Black driver to win a race in NASCAR’s Cup Series. The review may be short, but it is a book that is well worth the time to read.
Title/Author: “Racing While Black: How and African-American Stock Car Team Made Its Mark on NASCAR” by Leonard T. Miller and Andrew Simon
Rating: 4 of 5 stars (Very Good)
Review: Author Leonard T. Miller, whose father passed down his love of motorsports to his son, wanted to channel this enthusiasm to create an all-Black racing team to compete in NASCAR. While they knew they would face many challenges, both financially and socially since the sport was still considered one for the “good ol’ boys” in the southern United States, he nonetheless sunk much time and money recruiting people, cars and engines to make this dream a reality.
Reading about his struggles, while not unexpected, were still eye-opening. Miller Racing’s biggest issue, which makes up the bulk of the book, was trying to obtain sponsors, a must for any racing team. There were the encounters with racist fans, the hesitation by white sponsors when Miller was making his pitch and even resistance by Blacks in higher class statuses, questioning Miller’s wish to mingle with “rednecks.”
There is so much more to the book and Miller’s struggles than just sponsors and their money, or racists (overt and subtle) and the barriers they create. There are great racing stories, stories about work and disagreements in the garage, and even some name dropping aside from racing, such as Jessie Jackson when for a brief time, he assisted Miller and his chase for recognition in the sport. The story is one that has a mixed ending as well as the usual ups and downs one would expect for this type of book. Anyone interested in learning more about the hustle for sponsors, drivers and crew members will like this book. While it does focus on the experience facing Black’s in racing, it still is a good exposure to the entire business aspect of racing.