Rumor Mill

NEW BOOK REVIEW - THE FIRST LADY OF MOTORSPORTS: LINDA VAUGHN

The cover alone should have drag racing fans burning rubber to get to the nearest bookstore or typing at full throttle the .com address of Internet retailers.

"Linda Vaughn: The First Lady of Motorsports." "Foreword by Don Garlits."

Zoom!

This long-overdue 224-page hardcover on the woman who will forever be known as "Miss Hurst Golden Shifter" is essentially a picture book with extensive explanatory captions written by Linda herself. Each of the 10 chapters includes text from Rob Kinnan, who worked with her on the book.

Garlits' foreword has a few sentences as eye-opening as the book's subject, who is as famous in her own way as any driver.

"I guess that not many men (boyfriends) could stand the fact that Linda was well endowed and all the other men took a real good look!," pens Garlits. "Personally speaking, I would not have minded at all, as long as I knew she was all mine. Let 'em look, just don't touch. 'She is all mine,' would have been my answer."

Chapter Four is "The World of Drag Racing" and spans an impressive 31 pages. The decades of photographs of Linda with many of the straight-line sport's greatest racers and characters stirs memories: Garlits, Don Prudhomme, Shirley Muldowney, Danny Ongais, Mickey Thompson, "Gentleman Joe" Schubeck, Bill "Grumpy" Jenkins, Ronnie Sox, Darrell Gwynn, Jeg Coughlin Sr., Tom McEwen and Ed "The Ace" McCullough among many others. NHRA founder Wally Parks is shown giving Linda the sanction's 1970 Public Relations Award.

This is a treat: Seeing how Linda's trackside costumes changed as much as the cars over the years! A nearly full-page black-and-white photo captures Linda at her first Winternationals in Pomona, wearing a tight sweater, short skirt and high boots. "I didn't know if I'd be accepted in California because I wasn't a movie star or anything, but the fans were wonderful," she writes.

"It was huge, enormous, and I loved the nitromethane smell. I just loved it and still do today. There's nothing like standing on the starting line at Pomona, with my eyes tearing up and my makeup smearing."

Although she's been a crowd-pleaser at countless NASCAR, IndyCar, sports car and international Formula One races, Vaughn has always proclaimed her love of what happens at the strips. "Picking favorite moments in drag racing is like making a chocolate cake and putting frosting on top," she notes. "How much do you want? How much you got?"

The personal thoughts of many of racing's best are mixed in throughout. Among those are Muldowney, Prudhomme and Courtney Force.

Force's perspective adds a contemporary touch: "Her passion, her strength, her love of cars and racing has always been admirable being a female in a male-oriented sport and industry. She is a role model to many and I'm proud to call Linda my friend."

This is the first official publication about Vaughn since the pictorial magazine "Here's Linda: Auto Racing's Golden Girl" was published in 1970. That sold for $1 and now is considered a collector's item.

Vaughn's new book, published by CarTech Inc. of Forest Lake, Minn., ( www.cartechbooks.com ) has a $39.95 retail price. Discounts can be found at major online retail sites such as Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and Walmart.com . Act fast and you can still have it in time for Christmas.

It's difficult to imagine any All-American drag racing fan not buying "Vaughn" for his collection. And then to be looking for Linda at races or car shows to autograph it.