High Performance

High Performance

The Culture and Technology of Drag Racing, 1950-1990

Book - 1994
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Baker & Taylor
Through a series of personal experiences and interviews, this account depicting the history of drag racing features the technological motivations of the men and women who have devoted their lives to its pursuits

Book News
Post is editor-in-chief of the journal Technology and Culture , curator at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History, and a drag racing enthusiast. He chronicles the short history of this form of recreation, interweaving description of the cars and their powers with accounts from and about the sport's originators and notable participants. Includes photos. Annotation copyright Book News, Inc. Portland, Or.

Blackwell North Amer
Dragsters are the fastest race cars on earth, capable of reaching 300 miles an hour in a quarter-mile sprint. With 5,000-horsepower engines that use a thunderous blend of nitro fuel, they accelerate in an awesome fury of smoke and flame. For those who love high drama and high-powered machinery, there is nothing to top big-time drag racing. Millions of fans flock to speedways in Pomona, Indianapolis, and other cities each year. And though the rewards the winners reap seem paltry compared to the financial and physical risks they must run, top competitors often speak of drag racing as an addiction - getting hooked on "the sound of those engines and all that technology."
High Performance is a dramatic, first-hand history of this daring sport, from the earliest "legal" drags run on rural airfields to the spectacular - and sometimes tragic - careers of drag racing's boldest innovators. Post, a former racer himself, was an eyewitness to many of the episodes he describes. He has interviewed most of drag racing's legends and superstars, such as "Pappy" Hart, who opened the first commercial strip in Santa Ana, California, in 1950, and Florida's "Big Daddy" Don Garlits, the first person to define himself as a professional drag racer. Post looks at all aspects of drag racing: the sport, the business, the means of personal affirmation. But most of all he explores it as an example of technological enthusiasm, tracking the innovations that permitted racers to disprove on pavement the "laws of physics" that experts had laid out on paper.
What emerges is a compelling look at the men and women who have devoted their lives to this extraordinary pursuit and a sensitive exploration of their motivations. From Garlits, who served as role model and "top gun" to generations of racers, to Shirley Muldowney, who was nearly killed in a 250-MPH crash and returned to the cockpit two years later with the simple explanation, "It's what I do." From Richard Tharp, who wryly summed up dragging's notoriously small financial rewards this way: "Racin' may not be much, but workin' is nuthin'," to Mike Snively, who committed suicide at 31 with only one thing in his pocket: a handwritten list of his major wins.
"Drag racing is an activity with a history so brief that people still around were there at the start," writes Post. "They can recall how it began as a hobby among young men infatuated with speed and power - 'hot rodders,' they were called. They have seen it become a compelling spectacle with a complex web of commercial relationships. And they have seen women impelled into mainstream roles to a degree far beyond what prevails in most similar activities."

Baker
& Taylor

Through a series of personal experiences and interviews, this account depicting the history of drag racing features the technological motivations of the men and women who have devoted their lives to its pursuits.

Publisher: Baltimore, MD : Johns Hopkins University Press, c1994
ISBN: 9780801846540
0801846544
Branch Call Number: 796.72 POS
Characteristics: xxiii, 416 p. : ill. ; 27 cm

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