Book Review: Ed Otto - NASCAR's Silent Partner By Edgar Otto & Joann Biondi

By Michael F. Hollander, Editor, Racing Information Systems
posted March 5, 2008,

REDONDO BEACH, CA - RIS - Whenever I pick up a book from Coastal 181, I know I'm in for a treat
and Ed Otto - NASCAR's Silent Partner was no exception. Printed on heavy coated stock that
permits great reproduction of the many photographs, this book tells in great detail the story of a
man who at one time owned 40 percent of NASCAR - the same percentage as Bill France Sr. Yet
today, he's virtually unknown to 99 percent of racing fans. I do wonder at the title, though. Otto is
portrayed as someone who liked to stay in the background, yet someone who also was gregarious
and able to strike up a conversation easily. His trademark greeting, one that sometimes got him
into trouble, was "Hello, Sucker."

Ed Otto was one of the first successful auto racing promoters, long before NASCAR came into
being. His son, Edgar, and Joann Biondi tell his tale in an engaging manner, both with a narrative
and with interviews of the people who knew him best. There's certainly a bias in Otto's favor in the
book - and a bit of animosity about how he's been systematically erased from the history of
NASCAR and how he ended up selling his 40 percent of the company to the France family for
$250,000 in 1963. Otto is portrayed as the real power behind NASCAR's growth from a rural,
Southern backwater to a true national - and even international series. He staged NASCAR's first
event in Canada. He brought in Hispanic fans long before the "Drive for Diversity" was a gleam in
Brian France's eye. He raced import brands against the domestics, he created the idea of flying
drivers to races and he raced in places that have long since faded from memory.

In addition to Otto himself, you'll learn a lot about the pioneers of both NASCAR and open-wheel
racing - Otto promoted both. You'll hear from luminaries like Chris Economaki, Ed Hinton, Humpy
Wheeler and Richard Petty. And if you don't believe he was there, well the pictures with France
and virtually every other important person in racing will tell you otherwise.

This is a book you'll want to read, and read again. It will make you question everything you think
you know about NASCAR and should encourage more research amongst today's journalists and