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Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

Racing Books

We Love Racing! I created a bookfair theme for it in the fall and continue to add strong racing titles to our library collection. The students and parents were excited about our theme. Even my ENT has an entire ear room dedicated to racing with flags, jackets, photos, calendars, maps of tracks and more. I asked him why and he said, "We live in the south, don’t we?" 
Trivia: What does NASCAR stand for?

Answer:  National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing

Let me share with you two new series from Lerner Books that I’m adding to my collection:

NASCAR at the Track (The Science of NASCAR series) by Mark Stewart & Mike Kennedy.
Definitely lots of reading ,so this title will be read in its entirety by my high 4th graders and middle schoolers. I expect many circulations by race fans just to look at the pictures. Science experiments are scattered throughout for students to learn more about

  • how the effects of hot and cold damage tracks
  • how banking turns helps cars go faster
  • how water cools car engines
  • why treadless tires lose their grip
  • why approaching cars make a high-pitched sound while departing cars make low-pitched sounds

I did read every word, every caption, every math challenge, and every experiment. Having asked my father why he always takes so many tires, I was glad I knew why some tires were better on slick, dry tracks, while yet other tires were best on muddy, unevenly packed tracks. I wanted to add to the book that dirt tracks get hotter and dryer during long race evenings and tires are frequently changed. There’s even a difference in the tires on the left and on the right. Aha! Mark, you didn’t mention that. You did manage to incorporate a heavy amount of concepts with your passion for NASCAR and science. I just wish the page designer hadn’t thought his or her border was so wonderful that the pictures were sometimes covered on the left sides. 

Other titles in the Science of NASCAR series:

      • NASCAR behind the Scenes
      • NASCAR Designed to Win
      • NASCAR in the Driver’s Seat
      • NASCAR in the Pits
      • NASCAR Safety on the Track
      • NASCAR at the Track

Drag Racers by Jeffrey Zuehlke joins the extensive list of books in the MOTOR MANIA series including:

Classic Cars Choppers Concept Cars
Crazy Cars Custom Cars Drag Racers
Formula One Race Cars Hot Rods Indy Race Cars
Lowriders Muscle Cars Pickup Trucks
Sports Cars Stock Cars Supercross

Drag Racers has a high browsability rating. Students seem to enjoy the gallery of super race stars. The language is still difficult so this seems most likely intended for the high elementary/middle school population again. The students seemed most thrilled with the Drag Racers Gallery including photos of drivers and of their cars. Each mini-biography lists the seasions of active racing, the number of National Even wins, and the NHRA championships. 

Girls will be drawn to this title. I found several proudly reading about Shirley Muldowney’s drag racing history and Anbelle Sampey’s Pro Stock motorcycle  career. Personally, I was fascinated with the photo of the rear tires wrinkling as they gripped the track. 

Did you know that J.R. Todd is the first African American to win a top fuel event. Why? I would expect far more racial equity at the #1 spectator sport in America.

Racing Memories with my Dad, Alyn Ritts. 
Hiya, Dad, I hope you are reading my blog today. Remember the Christmas when I found a new driver’s net for your race car? You were so happy because it signaled that I’d come to peace with spending so much of my life at dirt tracks in NW Iowa and SE South Dakota, waiting while you worked on the car, waiting while you bartered for parts in some farmer’s garage, keeping you awake on those 2 hour drives home, and watching trophies take over the house so there was no room for decorations. 

I do have happy memories. Learning how to pop-rivet with you that summer. Learning how to use a toiled plunger to pull out dents. Laughing at how everyone in town could tell when you’d be off to the race tracks that night because you’d start the motor. (Since my hometown Washta is nestled between two hills, the roar of that engine would echo loudly and wake everyone.) The face of your grandsons when they were able to crawl through that tiny gap to sit in the driver’s seat and watching them wave their flags while they cheered for 57 – Pampa’s car. Getting excuse notes to leave school early my high school senior year many days to "pick up parts" for you in the city. Bragging about you when those nights you worked until 4 a.m. paid off in a perfect engine taking home the trophy. Cheering for our favorite drivers and getting to know the various men who drove for you over the last 25plus years. 

Dad, now that you have sold the gas station and are building your own garage would you consider selling some of those race cars to other young racers just getting started? You are such a perfectionist that even after those cars have won track championships for you, they are still in far better shape than many "new" cars out there. You could use the funds to buy new stuff for the racing garage, I mean autorepair garage in the backyard. Think about it. It’s not easy to drive two cars to the track to race each night. The third and fourth cars could easily go to new homes so other dads and daughters can build memories.


  1. Alyn Ritts says:

    As your father I am proud of you and your accomplishments. Your ability to critique books is a gift. Those of you who have never been a part of racing don’t know what you are missing. There are some children who find learning difficult so it is encouraging to know there are books for them that might spark an interest and teach them from the backside. Love you Diane, Dad