Teen Novel Inspires Short-track Racing Video Sites

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May 28, 2013

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Dust jacketTeen Novel Inspires Short-track Racing Video Sites

BURLINGTON, VERMONT — The auto racing–themed novel for teen readers The Outside Groove (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) by Erik E. Esckilsen was the impetus for launching the United Short Tracks of America blog site and Facebook page. The media channels invite racing fans to post short videos of their local raceways.

United Short Tracks of America will host videos shot on any device that offer a fan’s-eye view of an American raceway. Videos will run between 60 seconds and 3 1/2 minutes in length and can involve as much or as little editing or musical scoring as fans wish to use. Videos collected on the blog site will become part of an interactive map of U.S. short tracks.

“The basic purpose of United Short Tracks of America is to give race fans a chance to share with other fans around the country a day or night at their local tracks,” Esckilsen says. “The dominant narrative on short-track racing would have you mourn these hometown gems as they disappear into the twilight. United Short Tracks of America will tell the story of a short-track racing community that is still vital, enthusiastic, and important to people all across the nation. We know that short-track racing is overshadowed by the phenomenally popular national racing events — the Daytonas and the Talladegas. I’d still like to see fans celebrate the heart-and-soul raceways where ordinary folks run just for the thrill of it — and where, incidentally, all big-time drivers get their starts.”

Action on the quarter-mile, high-banked oval track at the Thunder Road International Speedbowl in Barre, Vermont, was the inspiration for Esckilsen’s Outside Groove, his third and most recent novel for young readers. The Outside Groove was recently released in e-book form. The book’s acknowledgments page book mentions local racers and track officials, among them veteran NASCAR broadcaster Ken Squier, for helping the author learn the ins and outs of short-track racing. He notes that he was especially grateful to the young women drivers at Thunder Road for their insights on competing in a male-dominated sport, since The Outside Groove narrator and protagonist, Casey LaPlante, is a 17-year-old girl learning to race so that she can compete against her older brother. Multimedia content on the novel’s website offers a glimpse into The Story Beyond the Story, including an audio essay written and narrated by the author, “Circular Logic,” on the inspiration for the novel.

Erik E. Esckilsen’s two other YA novels are Offsides and The Last Mall Rat, both published by Houghton Mifflin/Walter Lorraine Books. His articles and essays on the arts and culture have appeared in such publications as the Boston Globe, Entertainment Weekly, Seven Days newspaper, and other publications.