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There's an episode near the end of the old "Home Improvement" TV series in which, if memory serves, the Taylors are planning to move - leaving behind the family home where the boys grew up and all of their happy memories were made. With boxes packed and furniture gone, mom Jill stops and looks wistfully at a near-empty family room. Suddenly, through a series of TV flashbacks, she recalls all the happy times the family spent there together through the years. She sees the Taylor children as little boys, but, in an instant, they're all grown up.
Take that concept to NASCAR, and imagine yourself looking out on an empty race track. In your mind's eye, you see the race cars and the drivers of yesteryear - Lee Petty, the Flock Brothers, Fred Lorenzen - the old-style cars and the fans dressed in clothing of the era filling the stands. Blink your eyes and it's 2010, with all the brilliant colors and bold pageantry of today's Sprint Cup Series.
That's the concept - and the practical effect - of the hardcover book NASCAR Then & Now by Ben White with photography by Nigel Kinrade and Smyle Media. As the back cover of the book explains, "By placing rich historical photography alongside vivid modern images, NASCAR Then & Now brings to life the story of NASCAR's growth from a humble but ambitious regional sport into a multibillion-dollar American institution. Part nostalgia, part celebration, this is a book every NASCAR fan will want for his or her library."
The book is divided into six chapters, each focusing on a different area of life at the race track: Drivers and Teams, Fans, Horsepower, the Tracks, Setting the Stage, and "Let's Go Racin'". The premise of juxtaposing old pictures with new ones is brilliantly executed throughout the book, starting with the cover itself, which contrasts a black and white photo of old-time race cars heading into a corner at Martinsville with Richard Petty 's No. 43 Plymouth in the lead, and a modern-day color photo depicting a similar turn at Homestead-Miami Speedway with Jimmie Johnson's No. 48 Chevy out front.