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Short Track

Afterword by Darius Himes / Photographer Jake Mendel

Short Track documents the world of semi-professional dirttrack racing: from the downtrodden bombers and high-endstock cars, to the fans, drivers, and mechanics' lives onand off the track. With roots going back to prohibition-erarum runners, stock car racing has evolved into a nationalphenomenon and become America's second-most watchedtelevised sport. For racing enthusiasts, hot days spentsweating over busted engines and damaged bodies give wayto nights of tearing up the earth in front of a crowd, mudspraying from tires with the pedal jammed down and theadrenaline cranked up.

The "short track" is any oval track less than a half-mile round,and countless semi-pro races are held weekly on dirt shorttracks across the country. Drivers in these events race atbreakneck speeds, seeking triumph while courting disaster,and spectators know there is as good a chance of witnessinga crash as getting a first look at NASCAR's next up-and-comer.Mendel traveled to the Deep South, Arizona, and NewMexico-hotbeds of stock car racing-in order to capture theraw power and gritty determination of life on the short track.As most drivers can't afford their expensive hobby, many relyon assistance from family and friends, and even from fellowcompetitors, in order to maintain their cars. But for the diehards,stock car racing is more than a sport; it is a way oflife. Short Track puts readers in the passenger's seat foran up close ride-along through the world of America's mostdangerous, grease-splattered, high-octane, pastime.