Cover Image: The First Lady of Dirt

The First Lady of Dirt

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Member Reviews

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for this eARC.

"The First Lady of Dirt: The Triumphs and Tragedy of Racing Pioneer Cheryl Glass" by Bill Poehler is a compelling narrative that chronicles the life of Cheryl Glass, a trailblazing figure in the world of auto racing. Poehler's work is not just a biography; it's a poignant exploration of the human spirit, ambition, and the harsh realities of pursuing dreams in a world rife with prejudice.

Cheryl Glass emerges from the pages as a prodigy, her passion for racing ignited at the tender age of ten. Poehler masterfully captures her ascent in a male-dominated sport, painting a vivid picture of a woman whose drive and talent were undeniable. Glass's journey is one of groundbreaking achievements, including becoming the first successful Black woman in auto racing, a feat that seemed almost predestined as she maneuvered through the ranks with the grace and speed of her own race cars.

However, Poehler does not shy away from the darker aspects of Glass's story. The book delves into the relentless challenges she faced, from the racist and sexist taunts hurled by spectators and competitors to the personal demons that haunted her off the track. It's a stark reminder of the price of pioneering while being a minority in a space that is unwelcoming and often hostile.

The narrative is enriched by exclusive interviews, offering a multidimensional view of Glass's life. These accounts add depth to our understanding of her character, revealing a woman who was as complex as she was talented. Poehler's own background in racing lends authenticity to the descriptions of the races, the smell of burning rubber, and the roar of engines, placing readers right in the heart of the action.

"The First Lady of Dirt" is as much an ode to a remarkable racer as it is a sobering commentary on the societal ills that can stifle even the most luminous of stars. Poehler's prose is engaging, his research thorough, and his respect for Glass's legacy evident on every page. This book is a must-read for not only racing enthusiasts but also anyone interested in the stories of extraordinary individuals who defy odds and redefine boundaries.

In conclusion, Bill Poehler's "The First Lady of Dirt" is a beautifully crafted tribute to Cheryl Glass, whose life story is as inspiring as it is tragic. It serves as a powerful testament to her indomitable spirit and the indelible mark she left on the world of racing. It's a narrative that captures the essence of a pioneer and the bittersweet journey of her life.

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It's hard to rate someone's real life story. How can I put stars to a life? Especially a life that made history and defied the odds. So instead, this review will focus on the little-known story of Cheryl Glass and the author's writing style.

Cheryl Glass was one of the most promising race car drivers in the United States. Her dream was to become the first Black woman to race in the Indy 500. But after repeated concussions and major injuries, her auto racing career ended abruptly and her life crashed with it. Overwhelmed with depression, she committed suicide at the young age of 35.

Author Bill Poehler takes us through Cheryl's childhood and journey to the world of auto racing. He does not mince words when it comes to the obstacles she faced far as racism, sexism, mental illness, law enforcement and enablers. The First Lady of Dirt can be an inspiring story and an example of the pressure placed on Black women to succeed and be pushed to the limit, sometimes at our own expense or from those surrounding us.

Due to the author's factual emotionless writing style and the PDF format with smaller than small font, I found The First Lady of Dirt difficult to read through. It isn't that Cheryl's life was not interesting but it read like a newspaper article or journalist assignment with no connection to the author, main subject or audience. I spent most of my time zooming in and out of the page. Nevertheless, I finished The First Lady of Dirt and picked up little-known Black History facts.

Don't let this deter you. I am sure the published edition (hardcover or eBook format) is more reader-friendly and legible. Also, it is great to learn about a Black woman that made history in the male-dominated sport of auto racing.

Happy Pub Day, Bill Poehler! The First Lady of Dirt: The Triumphs and Tragedy of Racing Pioneer Cheryl Glass is now available.

Disclaimer: An advance copy was received directly from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Opinions are my own and would be the same if I spent my hard-earned coins. ~LiteraryMarie

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I want to start with thanking Bill Poehler and Rowman & Littlefield Publishers for the chance to read the ARC copy. In saying that, a tip for authors and publishers. PDF"s are extremly hard to read on phones, as you can't increase text or change layout. You are stuck zooming in and moving the page about to read. For that reason I normally avoid requesting PDF's. I didn't realize this one was a pdf until I was granted access to it. But was really interested in the book so went through the trouble to read it as a pdf.

I'll start by saying that I've never heard of Cheryl Glass. But I'm a huge USAC sprint car and IndyCar guy from Indiana so this was right up my ally. The book was a great read, if not a bit sad. I think Cheryl would have benefited greatly in her life and racing career if someone around her told her no every once in awhile. Instead of rushing from car to car and discipline to discipline, become great at one before moving on. Just like sprint car drivers after her that ended up at Indy. Win local championships. Then move up to running the full WoO schedule if you want to stay with wings. Start winning races and finishing in the top 10 in the season championships. Then move on. Unfortunately there's no reason she should have been in a offroad truck. That's no where close to anything she had raced before. And unfortunately that was her downfall to her racing career. Again if someone would have told her no there, maybe things would have ended differently when she attempted the Indy Lights comeback.

I'm really surprised with her parents being so wealthy that they didn't just buy her a ride for a Indy 500 attempt. Overall a great read if you are a racing fan., even if you are sad by all the "yes" people around her throughout her entire life.

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