Frontstretch Book Review · Amy Henderson · Wednesday May 9, 2007
There are few people in racing, it seems, who are willing to tell it like it is. Luckily, for race fans looking to avoid the political correctness permeating the sport nowadays, there's still Kenny Wallace. In his new autobiography, Inside Herman's World, Wallace, along with co-writer Joyce Standridge, tells it like it is, indeed, just as he has every step of the way throughout a NASCAR career spanning three different decades.
Reminiscing about growing up in a blue-collar racing family, Wallace’s book brings readers along on a journey from a very close call in early childhood when he also received the nickname “Herman” up through to the Nextel Cup driver and television personality that everyone knows today. It was hardly a smooth road, either, one that included stops as Winston Cup crew chief and a very near miss at the Busch Series championship back in 1991. Still, every bump only serves to make the story richer. In another outstanding book from Coastal 181 Publishing, a company that always tells the best stories from all levels of racing, fans will see the popular Wallace in a whole new light after flipping through these pages.
If it is racing that is at the heart of Wallace's story (imagine, if you will, a rookie driver in his first Busch Series race with both Rusty Wallace AND the late Dale Earnhardt on the spotter's stand – each offering the exact opposite advice. But no pressure or anything!) it is family that formulates the soul of Kenny Wallace. From his early "dorky" days of trying to win over the lovely Kim Poole in high school to his less-than-steady presence at the births of both his and Kim's three daughters and all the years of marriage in between, it is clear that there is so much more to Kenny Wallace than the fast cars alone will ever tell.
Displaying Wallace's trademark good humor throughout, the book also delves into both highlights and disappointments dealt with along the way, each with equal honesty. From the young boy asking for (and getting!) a dishwasher for Christmas to racing Matchbox on the breakfast table while providing running color commentary, readers will laugh out loud with the ups and downs of a life that’s never boring. But Wallace's description of the worry that results from the harsher side of racing at its top level along with the loss of a dear friend, as well as his deep respect for both Earnhardt and “chosen brother” Ken Schrader, resonate on a much deeper level, giving readers a whole new side of Wallace one rarely sees.
The book is introduced by three of Wallace's peers. Ken Schrader explains how he taught a very young Wallace to drive, sitting on Schrader's lap in his father's truck. Then, Mark Martin’s intro openly admits how it drove him nuts when Rusty showed up late to tracks in their short track days because he had to wait for head wrench Kenny to get out of school. Finally, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. polishes off the trio of introductory praise by calling Wallace "a silver coin in a pile of coal." Longtime NASCAR journalist Joyce Standridge provided provocative questioning and background research to help bring out the best of Wallace's many tales, and many wonderful photographs accompany and enhance the text.
Even if you think you know who Kenny Wallace is, you haven’t figured him out for good until you get Inside Herman's World. It will both strengthen your perception – and make you rethink everything you thought you knew at the same time.
If you’re interested, the book is available for pre-order online at www.coastal181.com through May 19th at $23.95 (plus $6 shipping and handling) and comes with a sticker and autographed postcard if purchased in advance. Pre-orders will be shipped as soon as the book is received.
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