25 April 2009

26. Hot Laps

Hot Laps - Steve Eubanks
This book was given to me by my Dad. He was reading it once when I called on the phone. He read the synopsis on the back cover to me. I thought it would be fun to read.
"Once Robert "Redball' Redding was a legend on the stockcar circuit- until a brutal crime made him hang up his helmet and race suit. Now he draws big crowds and good press as one of North Carolina's hottest prosecuting attorneys. But just as he's poised to move up to a federal gig, someone throws a monkey wrench into the machinery...
A brain-dead hayseed named Troy Slackherd's been caught red-handed trying to hijack a eighteen-wheeler filled with die-cast toy race cars. The culprit's the step-brother of pro-racing's most popular speed demon, Junior Senior Jr.- which means Redball's returning, against his will, to the 180 mph world of gas fumes, adrenaline, and treacherous curves. When the truckful of toys leads to a locker of cash- and to perfidy, porn, loser Louisiana wiseguys...and murder- Redball realizes he's back in the race for good or ill. And he'll have to keep moving...or die."
That description sounds interesting, but that is not what really happens in the book. It is misleading. Redball never goes back to racing. He drives a car one time when he visits his old team during a test session. He jumps in the car for a few laps. That was the extent of the return to racing, 180 mph, drive or die...blah blah.
The book was a crime book more than a racing book, but it was centered around race teams in Charlotte. The places were actually in and around Charlotte. The roads were right. The stores were right. Tennis played at Piper Glen. The Wachovia golf tournament. It brought the book home...because I live here in Charlotte.
The names of the characters were interesting. Junior Senoir Sr, Junior Senior Jr, Jett Jordan, Piston Stackheus, Rusty Twain, Mudfish Dupree, and many more. My favorite was an English man named Twigfarter. LOL
The crime? It involved an organized crime family with a hot-tempered and very violent head of operations in Savannah. Things went wrong in Charlotte and he ends up killing a State Trooper, one of the best defense attorneys in the state of North Carolina, and attempts to kill Redball and his wife, who just happens to be a retired stockcar champion turned prosecutor and is under federal vetting for a national post.
It was an interesting book, but it took a step in the wrong direction for me and did it almost immediately. I happen to be a racing fan. I know the rules. I know how it works. In this book, on page two, the first racing scene is being broadcast on the radio. The announcer says it is lap 333 and the white flag is flying under caution. Once it goes green they run about five more laps before a winner is declared. That can't be correct under the old or the new rules. Old rules...white flag flies under caution...race ends when the cars get back to the finish line (1 lap). New rules...white flag never flies under caution unless the race has already run a green-white-checkered finish one time...the green would be shown, then the white. So, for a book written by a man who has been published in Racing Fan magazine I thought that was a pretty blatant error. You could at least get the rules of the game correct when writing a book based on the game.
Is a foul ball a home run just because it went over a wall?
Interesting and fun story, but not a great book.