OLD SCHOOL VOLUME 2
Mike Arthur’s second on sprint car racing
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Published on Wed, Oct 24, 2012
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
BOOK REVIEW OLD SCHOOL Volume 2 1978-1979 By Mike Arthur ISBN-13: 987-0-615-66870-3 Review by Doug Stokes You know those new greeting cards that talk, sing, tell a joke, make rude bodily noises, or play music when one opens them? Well, that happened (at least in my mind) every time that I opened this second offering in Mike Arthur’s “Old School” open wheel dirt track photobook series. I hear a blast of screaming Chevy V-8 music, underscored by the rapping rain of clay chunks ricocheting off the crash fence, all sustained by the roar of an appreciative crowd of crazed sprint car fans.
Even with the book closed and sitting quietly on my desk, I know that the noise is right there, just waiting to ring my ears real good. In there as well are the smells, pungent methanol, acrid tire smoke, mud (mud?) “What the hell does mud smell like …” Okay, open “Volume 2” to page 34 and you’ll get the idea as the legendary Leland McSpadden churns track clay into an aromatic mist with a bouquet that hints of wet clay, horseshit, and laundry detergent, all combined with just the faintest aroma of drain oil and sweat. That is to say that even the most static or formal of pit shots in this book all seem only seconds away from becoming potential action subjects, and the action shots simply define that term. That’s the way that Arthur’s newest “Old School Vol 2” hits. Ascot, the Copper World Classic (when it really was so), Imperial Fairgrounds, Knoxville, West Cap Speedway in Sacramento, Wings, no-wings, Schuman, Wolfgang, Kinser, Swindell, Hewitt, Eddie Wirth, Dean Thompson, Jimmy Oskie, Bob Meli, Stan Fox, Max Sweeney, Manzanita, Haubstadt, and an underage Al Unser, Jr. … All of the above and a hundred times more in blazing action shots and (often pretty damn self-conscious) hero poses.
There are also some great shots of the big open wheelers running on the hard surface at Phoenix. Many may not remember, but at one time long ago, Midgets, and Sprint Cars were the accepted vehicles in which to audition for Indy car rides. By the late 70s, that practice was already on the wane, and only a handful of the great drivers on these pages ever got a shot at Indy Cars. Even fewer got a chance to drive at the Speedway. Money got more attention than talent, and blind obeisance to the rear-engine revolution on the big tracks foolishly blew many a great driver off the list of prospective pavement pilots before they even got a tryout. This book will only appeal to a certain segment of the book-buying public, but for those who lived the era (or those who really want to understand what it was like out there), Mike Arthur’s photos here tell those tales in no uncertain terms. Volume 2 covers 1978-1979, and like those great old Saturday afternoon movie house promising more action “next time”, the final page in this book promises “Coming Soon: 1980”—and makes the point with a full frontal shot of Norman “Bubby” Jones artfully gliding the Kazarian’s famed Gas Chem car over a hard-packed track throttle wide open and the world in perfect balance. -DS
To buy Old School Vol. 1 or 2: Pay Pal to [email protected] Call with credit card: 619-561-2602 Send Check to: Mike Arthur PO Box 2928 El Cajon, CA 92021 Either volume $49.95 each Shipping: Media mail: $5.00 Priority Mail: $10.00 Buy both and only pay for one shipping cost. And, ask nice and Mike might write something personal in it for you or your giftee.