Mickey Thompson: The Last Racing Maniac
by Scribbler Joe (Scalzo)
I read this book with the absolute wish that every single solitary, bar none, motherlover listed in it could be looking over my shoulder reading right along with me; or even better still be listening to the author frantically reading the book aloud to all of us huddled in some musty Babbitville coffee enclave at 4:30 on a cold, rainy Wednesday afternoon.
The experience of this book, having known both the author and the prime subject (who is, by the way, the only soul not nick-named by the author in it), was physical.
Simultaneously hard to read and doubly difficult NOT to read, this privately-published memoir is dynamic, personal to a fault, and (to use his own word) the work of a true “maniac”.
He calls himself “Scribbler Joe” and has lived the bulk of his living with a resoluteness that has very often exceeded any understanding or passion that I may have thought that I ever possessed.
Needless to say this is an ultra-personal voyage of … What? Redemption? Catharsis? Misplaced hero worship? Vengeance? Or how about we call it what it adds up to: some sort of weird witches’ stew of all of the above.
Mixmastering the often intertwined lives of seven stalwarts of the motorsports scene, Joe’s own personal adventures with each of them are therein described and offered as some sort of oddly humanistic justification for all the shit and showbiz that went on in those formidable lives.
Some (not many and certainly not the ones that Joe would have made book on as still being here today) of the proto-protagonists are still with us. All of them are growing (at different paces) into their respective dotages. “We all remember it differently,” they’d cry out if one dared ask. Of course you would you silly SOBs, of course you would! Just let Joe remember it for you wholesale.
As a paid witness and one hell of a hanger-on, I read Joe’s facts and figures with a mixture of amusement, endorsement, the occasional expelling of a quick breath, some grunts, a few farts, and a couple of involuntary head movements thrown in just for good measure. Tough stuff on every page, but true for him. And actually good for him I’m led to believe, although what earthly good that might be escapes me wholly.
Never intended for any kind of mass readership, this manic volume reveals its subjects and jinked story line(s) by sucking all illumination in like a black hole and then spitting it back in the reader’s face, all discombobulated and more like real life than anything ever yet written on the subject by man or beast. This is raw unfiltered information, sewn together with gut, and leaking funny fluids most unglamorously.
As with any other Joe Scalzo writing that I’ve ever written about, I offer the identical advice: Read it at your own risk.
DISCLAIMER: Understand, and be warned please, that my being named in the dedication of this particular book, while enervating as that may seem, has had little or no bearing on the ensuing “review”.
Copyright 2009, Doug Stokes (speedreaders.info)
(Reviewer Stokes, an all-around car-guy, has written columns for various publications, for several years was manager of Autobooks-Aerobooks, and is a public relations professional, currently for Gale Banks Engineering.)