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Racing for love in all the right places

July 18, 2006|by TIM ROWLAND

· Commentary

I am crushed. Absolutely crushed. Once again, someone has hit upon an idea that I - a man who is to brilliant ideas what Star Magazine is to photos of stretch marks - clearly should have come up with on my own:

NASCAR romance novels.

It was the second race-related defeat for me in a week. On Wednesday, I noticed the YouTube set had beaten me to something else I should have thought of first, specifically power tool drag racing.

Basically, you set up two, 60-foot aluminum troughs and place a belt sander in each one, and then - well, never mind. It was kind of juvenile and no big loss, but missing out on NASCAR romance novels is an entirely different story.

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As background, I submit this item by staff writer Sasha Talcott of the Boston Globe:

"NASCAR's female fans already can buy everything from sterling silver heart pendants to tank tops to an orange-and-black purse with No. 20 on the side, representing famous driver Tony Stewart. Now, at this weekend's race in New Hampshire, they will be able to add another souvenir: A copy of NASCAR's first Harlequin romance novel, 'In the Groove,' to learn what happens when Lance, a 'supersexy race car driver,' accidentally hits Sarah, a former kindergarten teacher with a sweet smile and 'hot, hot body,' with his car."

Isn't that always the way? Just by coincidence, the race car driver always hits a babe. And the race car driver that hits the babe is always a hunk. Of all the sexpot kindergarten teachers who get hit by race cars every year, you never hear about one being hit by, say, A.J. Foyt.

"It was bad enough to be hit by a car, but for that car to be driven by God's gift to women was the icing on the cake," Sarah says in the book. She could not miss the "beige polo shirt that hugged his bulging strongman-arms" or "resist peeking glances at him."

All I can say is, move over Charles Dickens, we have a new Penguin literary classic in the making.

Doubtless, the first thing that will catch the reader's attention is that the girl seems to be taking the near brush with involuntary manslaughter pretty well. Got hit by a car AND the driver is good looking. Must be my lucky day.

And I don't hold it against her that she couldn't "resist peeking glances at him." What was she supposed to watch, her IV drip? Plus, the "beige" polo shirt is a nice detail. Couldn't have been a red polo shirt. Don't want chickie-poo thinking she just got run down by a dude who works at Staples.

Still, I have nagging questions, such as how does a professional race car driver manage to hit someone not named Matt Kenseth? We're supposed to believe they can split two race cars going 200 mph with a half inch to spare on each side, but can't drive down the street without bagging some glorified daycare provider?

And I can understand how it is hard not to fall for a guy who has just shattered your legs, but it seems decorum would dictate that you would wait to fall in love until you have at least had time to swap insurance cards. Still, not being an expert in either romance or NASCAR, I am content to defer to the professionals.

According to the Globe article, the partnership works because "There's something about car racing that exudes romance."

That "something," I assume, is that you can't hear what she's saying because of all the engine noise of the cars coming down the stretch.

She: And another thing, if you come home from the bar thinking that I'm going to

RRROOOOOAAAAAAAAARRR

three whole days without once volunteering to help out with the

RRROOOOOAAAAAAAAARRR

because don't you for one minute think I didn't see the way that you were looking at her

RRROOOOOAAAAAAAAARRR.

He: Yes dear, I love you, too...

...he said as he pulled her up against the little reptile logo on his beige polo shirt with his strongman-arms, at which point he nostalgically conked her over the lemon with a lug wrench and pushed her down the grandstand stairs and she got all stimulated thinking about how it had all begun, lying under his right front fender, so many years ago...

See? I could have done this. Piece of cake. I just didn't think of it first, is all.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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