A Little Bit Sideways: One Week Inside a Nascar Winston Cup Race Team
I'm pleased to say a rerelease of this book has been published in 2021 by Octane Press. The new edition has forewords by both Kenny Wallace, the driver for the race team on which the book focuses, and Steve Post, race reporter for MRN (Steve was involved in the Filmar Racing team when I reported the book). I've written a brief preface to the new edition as well, but beyond that the book is presented as it came out in 1998. My editor at Octane, Lee Klancher, calls this "the best racing book you've never read," and I'm proud of that support.
Here's a quote from an early review of the rerelease, in racefan.net: "As with the best writing ‘A Little Bit’ is both timeless and absolutely of its time. Huler captured the sport during a boom. ... Without giving spoilers, there are a few great surprises scattered throughout the book – a narrative twist early on is as amusing as it is unexpected, and Huler has a wonderful turn of phrase: ‘the sound of drivers complaining… about their tyres going away… is one of the truly pitiable sounds in racing, comparable to the wails heard in prisoner of war camps’.
The book's origin story is simple. Not long after I arrived in Raleigh in 1992 as a writer for the News & Observer, a sports editor thought it would be a hoot to send me to live on the infield at Charlotte Motor Speedway during the weekend of the Coca Cola 600 to see what I made of the bellies, boots, and beards crowd. I traveled among the campers, visited motorhomes and tricked-out schoolhouses, stayed up nights with drinkers and smokers, and visited the garage, the pits, the suites. Discovering a sport worthy of study and a culture rich and deep, I went native in a hurry and for the better part of a decade wrote regularly about racing and racing culture. This book, openly patterned on Eliot Asinov's masterpiece Seven Days to Sunday, about NFL football when it was taking over the culture, distills racing culture -- team, car, driver, shop, track, stands, fans, souvenir sales, ownership -- into the single-week cycle that is repeated all season long.
Here are some quotes from reviews of the first edition.
“One writer may finally have captured the essence of stock-car racing, demystifying the grown-up groupie mentality that the roaring sport inspires.”
-- Michael Skube, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“Most of the books currently being written about NASCAR are of the coffee-table variety, and most glorify the sport. Fine. There is a place for that. There also is a place for unfettered observation and independent analysis of a sport that is growing so fast that few have the time to understand why. A Raleigh writer named Scott Huler has broken new ground with A Little Bit Sideways…. Huler wrestles with the sport’s uniqueness better than most…. Huler also has a welcome attention to detail.”
-- Monte Dutton, Gaston Gazette
“It may be the best presentation of racing I’ve come across.”
-- Bob Latford, The Inside Line
Click on the book to buy it directly from Octane Press. Though it's worth noting I also try to buy books at my local independent bookseller or used bookstore. So long as you don't use Amazon, we're all good.
“A great job of capturing the entire aspect of what NASCAR is like – from the fans, drivers, pit crews, the whole gamut.”
-- Bob Jenkins, ESPN
“[Huler’s] eye for detail – of the mechanical and of the human element – is moving and delightful.”
-- Gerald Martin, Racer Magazine
“Huler is a master at painting a picture with words. … This book should be required reading for every race fan. … A winner.”
“A wonderful book, accurate and insightful, … beautifully crafted…. The book truly is terrific.”
--The Huntsville Times
“A fast-paced, 48-hours documentary-style look at the real world of racing…. Huler brings the business as well as the heart and soul of the NASCAR race team to life in fascinating detail and refreshing accuracy.”
-- Claire B. Lang, NASCAR Winston Cup Illustrated