Daytona Beach, Florida, 2001. Sportswriter Dave Caldwell watches from the stands as a black Chevrolet pulls ahead in the final laps of the Daytona 500. In an instant, it's over. The car smashes into a wall at 175 miles an hour, killing one of stock car racing's most loved drivers. The death of Dale Earnhardt inspired an outpouring of grief, drawing new fans to the sport and driving NASCAR to the top of the sporting industry. From its roots during Prohibition to today's die-hard fans, Dave Caldwell weaves together his firsthand observations as a NASCAR reporter with excerpts from The New York Times archives to give readers an inside look at the spectacle that is America's new favorite pastime.