When Dale Earnhardt Jr. announced his retirement, I remember the NASCAR world feeling shocked and subdued. A man with much popularity, plenty of skill, and seemingly many years to accomplish so much more, the announcement was stunning. However, it was not completely unexpected as it was clear that conversations had been taking place for quite some time. A year removed from the sport as a driver, fans now have access to Dale Earnhardt’s own telling of the story in his new book, Racing to the Finish, My Story.
An autobiography, especially by someone so popular, comes with high expectations. However, this 206-page book is probably not going to be what most readers would expect. Dale Earnhardt Jr. gives a few biographical details, sufficient enough to set the story. The bulk of the book though, is his personal battle with the (literal) hard hits of stock car racing. It is a story about concussions, their impact to him, and his own aversion to sharing the truth with those closest to him.
Before sharing some thoughts about the book, I must offer a confession. Everyone has their primary sport they follow. NASCAR is mine. Therefore, the book was of great interest to me, but I’m not excited about reviewing it here. This is not a distinctly Christian book, despite coming from a Christian publisher (Thomas Nelson). As a result, it is not the type of book that most readers of this blog will enjoy. It does not mean it is without merit, but only that it is not a book for everyone.
Racing to the Finish is simply Dale Earnhardt Jr’s revelation about the major impact concussions were having on his body, ability, and lifestyle. Concussions have become a hot topic in the sports world these days, but I suspect that few of us really understand the true severity of concussions. For those interested, the author does an incredible job at conveying their brutality and why the issue is so important (or should be of great importance). There is no doubt that readers will walk away well-informed and with greater compassion for those who endure such impacts and their effects.
Moreover, Earnhardt (and his coauthor) follows his typical form, writing at a very easy to understand level, even when discussing the science behind concussions. Because he writes like he talks, sometimes the book can be hard to follow and it is repetitious. I suspect that most readers though, will appreciate it because it is simply part of the character of Dale Earnhardt Jr.
One byproduct of this book is that although it is not a biography in its truest sense, readers do get a glimpse into the relationships that make up the author’s life. Because of who he is, much about Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s life is protected and not revealed beyond a very superficial level. This book offers one of the few intimate glimpses into his relationships with specific people.
Does this book glorify God? It could, but it is up to readers to make that connection. The topic reveals much about the human body and readers can marvel at just how complex and how complete it is. However, the author himself never makes that connection. In fact, the book makes no explicit mention of God at all, which is a major drawback for the book.
Even while appreciating the author’s intention of revealing the harsh reality being faced by sports figures when it comes to concussions, it’s disappointing that the story does not point readers to God. This is not a surprise in many ways, but as previously stated, because it came from a Christian publisher, I had hoped for more.
To learn more about this book or purchase a copy click here.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher at no cost to me for the purposes of review. However, my review was not influenced by the author, publisher, or anyone else associated with this book and is the result of my own reading of it.