Real Men Work in the Pits: A Life in NASCAR Racing

ISBN: 1594864063
ISBN 13: 9781594864063
By: Jeff Hammond Geoff Norman

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About this book

Jeff Hammond, one of NASCAR's all-time great crew chiefs, recalls the thrilling moments of his life in racing: starting out as a tire changer for Walter Ballard in 1974 and quickly becoming one of the best jackmen in the business; serving on all three of driver Cale Yarborough's championship seasons; and then taking over as crew chief during the glory days of legendary driver Darrell Waltrip. The stories Hammond tells about his life in NASCAR and the greats he has known are funny and--sometimes--tragic. He has strong opinions about the current state of the sport and pulls no punches as he offers his insights about the last 30 years when the sport grew so phenomenally from a regional obsession into a national pastime.

Reader's Thoughts


I'm glad I read this book soon after reading Darrell Waltrip's autobiography, because the Waltrip-Hammond pairing is legendary in NASCAR, to the point that when both retired from their respective racing roles (driver and crew chief), they were both hired to do TV broadcasts for FOX, where they remain to this day. I enjoyed being able to read about events Waltrip described in his book from the perspective of a competitor's team member who later became his crew chief.Hammond's career in Cup racing pre-dates Waltrip's, as he began as an entry-level crew member for owner Junior Johnson, whose cars were the top of the class in the 1970s, and worked with driver Cale Yarbrough, who was the first driver to win 3 consecutive Cup titles, all while Hammond was part of the team. While a member of Cale's team, Hammond noted the arrival of Waltrip to the big league and how everyone hated him, much like they later did when Jeff Gordon was the fresh new face of NASCAR. Eventually, Cale left Johnson's team, and Junior wanted the best driver out there as a replacement, who at the time was Waltrip. Hammond chronicles their ups and downs, and how difficult it was to have to like the guy he bitterly despised while working in support of Cale. Hammond worked his way up to crew chief by this point, and together, they won another 3 championships as members of Johnson's team.Most of Hammond's career highlights occurred with Waltrip and Junior Johnson, but he and Waltrip reunited after Waltrip decided to drive for newcomer Rick Hendrick, and recorded the lone Daytona 500 win for each in 1989. While Hammond never won another championship, he felt proud of his rise to an elite crew chief and fortunate to have had the opportunities he did in his career. He also noted the performance on and off track of many of their competitors, from the legendary drivers challenging Cale Yarbrough in those early days, to the up-and-comers like Dale Earnhardt, Bill Elliott, and Rusty Wallace who challenged Waltrip in the 80s, to young drivers like Tim Richmond and Davey Allison whose lives ended before their true potential was reached. The book culminates with Hammond's decision to become a broadcaster and his debut race as such, in which Dale Earnhardt lost his life, the story coming full circle, as one of Hammond's earliest racing memories was attending a race with tragically similar crash that ended up claiming the life of driver Fireball Roberts.


From a blog post I wrote in 2005:When I first got into NASCAR a couple of years ago, I had a little crush on Jeff Hammond who is a former crew chief and one of the FOX announcers. He was cute, a cowboy and knew a whole lot about something I know very little about. I'm always attracted to people who know more than I do. I wish I could get a brain dump from them and get their knowledge.I'm not so much into him now, though. He seems a little too much - like he's just trying too hard to be popular.His book was kinda like that, too. I enjoyed hearing about his start in the business, working for Junior Johnson, being the crew chief for Darrell Waltrip and the emotional ups and downs of a life in racing. But, I don't know, it seems like he can't say a negative word about anyone without following it up with something to soften the comment. Maybe, he's just that positive of a person.I did feel like I was given insight into the workings of NASCAR, the teams and the personalities from the book. And, there's no denying that Hammond and Waltrip were an outstanding combination with their 43 wins together so Hammond must know what he's talking about.


This book did not impress me as well as Larry McReynolds book.I was really disappointed, so sorry Jeff.You are still really cute.

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