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What: NASCAR Women: At the Heart of Racing.

Author: Denise Wood.

Publisher: David Bull Publishing.

Price: $24.95.

There are no female drivers in NASCAR's Winston Cup, but there is no denying their influence in America's second most popular spectator sport.

Vignettes by the author offer an interesting and entertaining insight into the lives of a cross-section of women who are part of NASCAR. Eight are driver's wives, whose underlying theme is that no matter what happens, racing is No. 1 in their husband's lives.

Debbie Benson, Johnny's wife, says, "I don't think any of the men realize what the women give up to be with them. Racing consumes your whole family."

Or, as Pattie Petty, Kyle's wife, says, "If a wife ever tells you that she doesn't feel second [to racing] at times, she is lying."

Many, it seems, had no idea of what racing was about when they met their husbands-to-be. Arlene Martin, Mark's wife, couldn't understand why Mario Andretti wasn't in the first race Mark took her to, because he was the only driver she had ever heard of.

Reaction to accidents that cost woman her son, another her brother-in-law and another her husband's best friend offer poignant testimony to the dangerous environment in which they live.

Lesa France Kennedy, sister of NASCAR President Brian France and herself president of International Speedway Corp., which owns Daytona International Speedway, says her long-term goal is to groom her son, Ben, to be the fourth generation in the family business.

-- Shav Glick

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