My family probably gets a big chuckle every time I review a book on this site, given that they can probably count on both hands how many books I read while growing up. I come from a family that is very musical and extremely well read. Somewhere in the gene pool, there was a mix-up. I possess absolutely no musical talent whatsoever, nor do I have any desire to be musically inclined. I like to listen to music but have no wish to ever produce it myself. That’s what iPods are for.
I was also much more interested in watching television than reading a book. In my childhood, I would completely memorize each program from the previous year’s Indianapolis 500, but place an open book in front of me and I would either knock it away or immediately find myself falling asleep. It didn’t get much better as a young adult. Sports Illustrated and Playboy were about as in-depth as I got (keeping in mind that I only read Playboy for articles about stereos and such).
For the past twenty years or so, I’ve actually become somewhat of a reader. My subject matter isn’t very pretentious. I don’t read philosophy, psychology or self-help books. In a rare occurrence, you might catch me reading a novel, but not often. Most of the books I read are historic and factual biographies. My favorite subjects (in order) are anything involving IndyCar, the early days of the space program and any other sports.
The problem is, the only chance I get to read is when I climb into bed at night. It takes a while to read a three hundred-page book, when I start dosing off after about a page and a half. By the time I finish a book, I’ve completely forgotten what happened at the beginning. But since I started this site, I’ve managed to finish and review several books here. Some have been slightly disappointing, while others – such as Gentlemen, Start Your Engines by Wilbur Shaw and Along For The Ride by Dorie Sweikert (Bob Sweikert’s widow) – were outstanding and worth a future re-read.
This is the first time that I’ve reviewed a book that I’ve never read or even picked up. Appropriately enough, it’s filled with mostly pictures – my kind of book. It was recommended by longtime reader of this site “Bent Wickerbill”, whose judgment I trust immensely. I first met Mr. Wickerbill at the race at Barber Motorsports Park in 2010. We met again that May at Indianapolis. If you’ve read some of his comments, you know he and I do not always agree – and he’s been quick to point that out. But I do not question his passion for IndyCar racing one bit.
That’s why when he sent me a link this past weekend to a book he had just bought, I made sure to take notice. Based on his comments and what I saw on the website, I knew that this book was an instant classic and a “must have” for any serious fan of the IZOD IndyCar Series.
The book is entitled LionHeart and is a pictorial essay of the late Dan Wheldon with photography by the author Michael Voorhees. Now before anyone starts chirping that Mr. Voorhees is a scavenger looking to cash in on Dan Wheldon’s fatal injury, the book was released in February 2010 – over a year and a half before the accident that took Wheldon’s life. The race weekend photography is outstanding. Those that are a bit more eclectic than I am will tell you the black & white photography of Wheldon away from the track is outstanding as well. It may be, but there are just a few too many photos of Wheldon with no shirt for my liking. It may be excellent photography, but that kind of thing is not really my cup of tea.
There are enough high-quality pictures of Wheldon racing at speed to make up for any artsy message the others may have sent. It doesn’t take too many pages of photos to tell that Mr. Voorhees is an excellent motorsports photographer.
Although the book is a bit pricey ($59), that’s not bad for a coffee table book filled with so many excellent pictures. Wouldn’t that be better than having the obligatory Martha Stewart book taking up valuable space on your coffee table?
It may be too late to order it for your hard-to-buy-for IndyCar fan for Christmas, but you can always take back that hideous reindeer sweater that Aunt Catherine gave you and have it by New Years. You can check out LionHeart for yourself here.
Thanks for the recommendation, Mr. Wickerbill.