“IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE” by Michael Waltrip


Title: In The Blink Of An Eye
Author: Michael Waltrip and Ellis Henican
Publisher: Hyperion (New York)
Genre: Non-Fiction
Year Published: 2011
Number of Pages: 223
Binding: Hardcover
ISBN13: 978-1-4013-2431-5
Price: $24.99

Reviewed by Tim Newey

When I first bought the book “In The Blink Of An Eye” by Michael Waltrip, I was expecting it to be mostly about the death of Dale Earnhardt, in part because of the subtitle: “Dale, Daytona, and the Day That Changed Everything” and partly because the release of the book coincided with the 10th anniversary of his fatal wreck. It really was more the story of Michael Waltrip and his personal struggles in the shadow of his legendary brother Darrell Waltrip and the great and timely help he received along the way from some of NASCAR’s biggest stars.

I have always enjoyed listening to Michael on TV. He is very funny, honest and full of energy. That is how he writes. This book is a mini autobiography of his life. It begins in the early 1970’s in Owensboro, Kentucky at a time when his older brother, 3 time Winston Cup Champion, Darrell was already winning races. It proceeds through his career to that day in 2001 and beyond. He talks about his personal trials, his divorce and the difficulty of starting a new race team. He talks a lot about the people along the way who helped him and supported him among those was his unlikely friend, Dale Earnhardt.

Dale Earnhardt Inc. #15 NAPA Chevrolet driven by Michael Waltrip
Dale Earnhardt Inc. #15 NAPA Chevrolet driven by Michael Waltrip

He describes his feelings of being so incredibly relieved and happy at winning his first race, and then of being so sad and not being allowed by fate, to finally celebrate and enjoy this huge victory. It wasn’t just that someone had died, as heartbreaking as that is, but that the man who had given him everything possible to get his first win, the biggest win of his life, had died. Dale had given him the equipment, the opportunity, the strategy and especially the confidence to get his first ever Sprint Cup win in his first ever race for Dale Earnhardt Inc. It was Dale’s win too. It was proof of the talent and leadership of Dale Earnhardt that he could take someone who had lost 462 races in a row and in his first race in a DEI car, he wins the Daytona 500. What an unbelievable day and what an unbelievable story.

“In The Blink Of An Eye”, has so many possible meanings in this book. It might be going from being a 0 and 462 driver to being a Daytona 500 Champion. It could mean the idea of driving for your hero, the best in the business one minute to being without your leader, your team owner in the next. Additionally, it could mean going from having a supportive old friend always there to encourage you, to minutes later, learning that he didn’t make it.

I really liked the following paragraph. I believe it demonstrates the honesty as well as the sense of humor of Michael Waltrip. He was waiting to hear from Dale Earnhardt about NAPA’s decision to sponsor the new #15 team. Michael said: “I didn’t want to just fade away as a footnote in NASCAR history – a guy who may have lost more races than anyone in Cup. I wanted to change that. I wanted to be a winner. I couldn’t stand the thought of how the Waltrip family history would read after NAPA’s “No Thanks”: One brother 84 wins, 3 championships. The other brother, zero and zero. Sure, I was the sweeter, taller, and better-looking brother, but they don’t put that in the record books.”

This was a surprisingly inspiring book to read. Of course, there are some very sad parts as there usually are in people’s lives, but what comes through is Michael’s gratitude for Dale Earnhardt and the other people who helped propel him to the successes he has enjoyed. After reading this, I am now an official fan of Michael Waltrip Racing. It was remarkable again, this year, on the 10th anniversary to the day of his first win, and also of Dale’s death, that Michael was a winner again at Daytona. He won the Camping World Truck Series race on February 18, 2011 at Daytona driving the #15 truck. This is such a great story, I would highly recommend this book to everyone, sports fans and especially race fans like me, who will never forget that day.

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