Seventeen-year-old Melody “Mel” Walters knows the speedway she helps her dad run isn’t firing on all financial cylinders, but she’s not ready to give up yet. If she can draw some big name out-of-town drivers, she might turn things around—unless that thunderstorm looming on the horizon puts the track out of business.
Trace Bonham, a classmate of Mel’s, would just as soon work on cars as race them, but his dad wants him to be a driver. Unfortunately, Trace can’t get his father to see that his less-than-spectacular performance has more to do with a shortage of horsepower than a lack of skill.
Beau Kim has to scrounge every part he bolts to his wheezed-out Mod-Four, but he’s proud to own a race car at the tender age of sixteen. If he can just keep the thing together, he might beat his nemesis, Amber Jenkins.
Amber has a pit crew full of older brothers and the financial backing she needs to fund a front-running car. Life would be perfect if she could only knock that chip off Beau’s shoulder and get him to notice her.
Patrick Fletcher can’t fathom why a choir-geek like himself was hired to help at the track, unless it has something to do with his ability to nail the Star Spangled Banner. Roped into driving the push truck, he finds himself in a position to help Trace uncover the mystery of his missing horsepower.
The paths of these five teens, along with others, converge one hot, humid night in Will Weaver’s latest novel, Saturday Night Dirt. Fast-paced and rich in technical detail, this story is designed to attract kids who would rather pick up a torque wrench than a book. And while boys would seem like the natural audience, the strong female characters are sure to attract girl race fans as well.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about Weaver’s book is his ability to fully draw such diverse and interesting characters in 163 short pages. From the fastidious flagman to Mel’s retired-racer dad, these people are sure to call to mind individuals we’ve all met at our local speedway.
Three years after I wrote this review, I’m still getting hits on this post. For those of you who are looking for books about racing, two of my own are out now.
Running Wide Open: When 15-year-old Cody Everett gets shipped off to live with his uncle, Race, he’s sure he’ll be in for the same disappointment and abuse he’s gotten from every other adult in his life. The last thing he expects is for Race and his speedway buddies to become the family he’s always longed for. Now the question is whether or not Cody can get a handle on his super-charged temper before it messes up his last chance to get his life on track.
Getting Sideways: Getting shipped off to live with his uncle Race was the best thing that ever happened to fifteen-year-old Cody. Then a wreck at the speedway nearly ruined everything. Now Cody’s barely holding it together. A chance to build his own car seems like the perfect distraction—until he realizes he’ll have to live up to Race’s legendary status. But that’s the least of his worries, since he doesn’t have his dad’s permission. All Cody has to do is the impossible: keep Race from discovering his lie until he can convince his dad racing’s safe. Yeah, sure. That’ll be easy.