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TRACKRAT: MEMOIR OF A FAN

What compels a young man or woman to spend ungodly amounts of money driving a racecar every weekend at the local track, risking life and limb at 150 miles an hour, entertaining friends and total strangers? Author editorial cartoonist Bob Englehart had to find out after witnessing the tragic wreck that killed Boston-area driver Shane Hammond at Thompson International Speedway.

 

This non-fiction book explores a slice of American culture, the short track racing obsession, and how the author became a fan as a child, bedridden for a year by rheumatic fever with only his imagination, pencils, and watercolors to pass the time. The author writes about his parents’ divorces and remarriages during an era when divorce was rare, giving him and his brother Tim a stigma in their neighborhood in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

 

The author discovers the extraordinary motivation behind Shane Hammond’s desire to race by a chance encounter with his mother and younger brother in the pits at the last race of the season. Trackrat: Memoir of a Fan is about love of family in spite of the complexity and confusion it may involve and the author’s working class heroes on the track. This isn’t NASCAR; this is your neighbor.

Reviews for Trackrat:

"Author editorial cartoonist Bob Englehart witnessed the tragic wreck that killed Boston-area driver Shane Hammond at Thompson International Speedway. The author then discovers the extraordinary motivation behind Shane Hammond's desire to race by a chance encounter with his mother and younger brother in the pits at the last race of the season. The story of Shane is compelling but then goes on and on about his parents' divorces and remarriages during an era when divorce was rare, giving him and his brother Tim a stigma in their neighborhood in Fort Wayne, Indiana. However, he did explain how he became a fan as a child, bedridden for a year by rheumatic fever with only his imagination, pencils, and watercolors to pass the time.
I was a New England “trackrat” and could relate to the stories of New England racers. I just wished there was more about them in the book. I DO recommend the book."

"Brought back many memories. Great read. Very interesting insight to short track racing. Loved the personal side of Bob's early years."

"I learned a great deal about short track racing in "Trackrat" and particularly enjoyed the revealing sketches of the drivers, fans and families who populate the tracks in Stafford, Thompson and Waterford, Connecticut. Bob used a traumatic event as a launching pad for the book – his witnessing the crash that killed driver Shane Hammond in 2008 at Thompson International Speedway. His interviews are intriguing, but the book also works on other levels. He writes in a compelling way about his own childhood in Fort Wayne, Ind., when he spent a year in bed with rheumatic fever with only his imagination, pencils and watercolors to pass the time. His book also explores the importance of family ties and how his parents’ divorce affected him and his brother. The longtime editorial cartoonist at the Hartford Courant, Englehart is also an engaging public speaker. I just hosted him at my library and would recommend that other libraries, book stores and race tracks sign him up as a speaker."

 

 

"This is a very interesting book on several levels. It was written by an author from my hometown. I knew, or knew of, several local people in the book so it was nice to see things from a different perspective. It is a very interesting story, both on a racing and on a personal level. Very easy yet comprehensive read."

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© BOB ENGLEHART 2018 | All Rights Reserved.

Editorial and political cartoons by Bob Englehart