Book Review by Richard Parks, Photographic Consultant Roger Rohrdanz
The author of Circle of Impact; The true life events of a brave action figure is Lynn McCoy and she has written a comprehensive biography of her husband Bob McCoy. I spoke with Lynn and she told me that Bob’s story was too riveting and special to go untold. She worked for years to find the photographs and stories to go with Bob’s history and Circle of Impact is the result of that effort. Bob McCoy is well-known today for his artwork and attends many car racing reunions where his work is prominently displayed on the programs. I also see Bob at car shows and racing events where his booth attracts racing fans from all spectrums of auto racing. Like so many other people, what I know about Bob McCoy is what I see and so my first impression is that he is a fine artist who loves car racing. Like most first impressions, I was very wrong. McCoy is truly a throwback to a previous era when men and women were very versatile and interested in so many different things. I learned that McCoy was a circle track veteran and quite successful. I also learned that McCoy tried his hand at rodeo riding and rode horses, the wild and unbroken kind. He also drove cars at El Mirage and Bonneville and is involved in hot rodding. That’s the problem that we have, we see only the current life of the people we admire and don’t see the whole story. Bob McCoy led a fascinating life and if the spirit moves him, will tackle another challenge just to see if he can master it. I have to admit that I like Lynn and Bob McCoy and always look for them whenever I’m at a major car show, like the L.A. Roadster Show, the Grand National Roadster Show or the Good Guys Show. I also see him at racing reunions and memorials for our racers who have passed on. The McCoy’s’ as the saying goes, are real and they have a large following of fans.
Circle of Impact is a first class, high quality, hard bound book with a cloth binding that should last a lifetime of use. The book has a high quality, glossy waxed paper for optimum showing of the photographs. It comes without a dust cover book jacket and I would recommend that the reader purchase a cover to keep the exterior from excessive wearing. Circle of Impact measures 11 ¼ by 8 ¾ inches in size and has 346 pages. It is suitable as a coffee table book, as a pictorial, as a biography and as a history of mid-twentieth century auto racing in the United States. The cover of Circle of Impact has McCoy’s artwork, which is highly prized by collectors and car racing fans. There are three drawings that give the essence of Bob McCoy; circle track racing, hot rodding and bronco busting. While I enjoy the photographs, seeing McCoy’s trademark style of drawing makes this an exceptional cover for the book. The only drawback is the lack of a suitable dust cover jacket to protect the book. Circle of Impact is a substantial book, measuring a full 1 ¼ inches in thickness and in the quality of the content and composition of materials. The price is a very reasonable $50 and compares very favorably to the books put out by Buzz Rose and Dick Wallen, two very talented authors and photographers. The publisher is Regent Publishing Services Ltd and this is the first printing. Lynn McCoy is the author and sells the books personally at car shows and from her home. You can contact Lynn at PO Box 1084, Lakeside, California 92040 or go on-line at www.BobMcCoyArt.com to purchase a copy. Another way is to go to the major California car shows and look for Bob’s booth. Lynn will have some books on hand and she and Bob will be glad to sign them for you.
I counted the wealth stored in McCoy’s book, but so great was the material that I may have lost the exact count. There were 58 drawings and artwork by Bob McCoy, some of which were duplications, but many of which were original. There were 489 black and white photographs, some being small and part of a collage, while others were full page and spectacular. I found four posters, four cartoons and four more miscellaneous contributions. There were 58 color plates, many of which were full and half page in size. Finally there were 65 newspaper clippings. The wealth of information in the book was simply breathtaking. This is the kind of work that one reads and rereads over and over again, each time finding another jewel of knowledge. The one drawback to all this information is that the author did not create an index of names and places. There is absolutely no way for the serious historian to quickly and efficiently find names and places to do research. In effect, historians will have to create their own index if they wish to use this book as a serious historical work. While 99% of the public is uninterested in having an index, over time the serious reader who acquires this book will have problems finding a particular name or event. As a pictorial, Circle of Impact is an impressive book. As a tribute to a very important racer and artist, the book is simply superior. Its major lack is an index and no matter how much I rail on about authors who fail to add an index, few heed my advice. One other thing that is noteworthy is that while most of the photographs and other pictorials are nicely captioned, some are not, or barely have a brief mention of who is in the photographs. It’s very disconcerting to see a photograph that is under-captioned or without a caption. The rule of thumb for captions is that you should always cover who’s in the photos, where it was taken, when it was taken, what was happening, who took the photograph and sometimes a why and how as well. An under-captioned or non-captioned photograph is like an insiders joke and most of the readers are outsiders, hoping to become “members of the club.”
Now these are smaller issues to the main issue of quality and content. Circle of Impact definitely is a quality book and it covers all facets of the life and times of Bob McCoy and those around him. The writing is easy to understand and non-technical as Lynn McCoy tries to make this readable for everyone and not just former race drivers. The photographs range from excellent to poor copies from the newspapers, but the high quality of the paper used in the books rescues even those photographs and makes them discernable. The artwork is pure McCoy and if you only bought Circle of Impact for Bob’s drawings, you will not be disappointed. McCoy is one of the great car racing artists and drawers of the age. He ranks up there with Kenny Youngblood, James Ibusuki, Tom Fritz and others and should be considered among the top artists in his field. McCoy has a style that combines subtle humor and a good bit of satire in his drawings. He’s not quite a “looking for Waldo” stylist, but there is always something hidden in his work that draws our curiosity. His style looks simple, but it is not. There is depth of detail to what he draws and paints. If McCoy’s work has not drawn a great audience and high prices yet, they certainly will in the future. Besides the artwork, I was really impressed with the abundance of newspaper clippings, which gave the book an air of being there when the action was taking place. The large number of photographs also put the reader in the time of the action. Many of the photographs were duplicates of the action, but about 250 of the photographs bound the story to the pictures. Lynn McCoy does a great job of telling the readers who Bob McCoy really is. This is what a biography should be. Bob McCoy’s story is told from the very beginning and without rancor or hiding some of the unpleasant details.
Normally I would give the readers a breakdown of the chapters and their contents, but a normal review is around 1000 words and Bob McCoy’s life is so fascinating that to attempt to do that I would need 3000 words to summarize his life. I’ll be brief; you’ll like this book if you like stories about an adventurous person who takes on the world on his or her terms. Bob did a bit of everything that interested him and he did it well. Perhaps he would have been better remembered as a rodeo star if he had concentrated simply on busting broncos. Or maybe he would have been a well known star of the oval track circuit if he had focused all his energies on racing and stayed out of the hospital. He could have been one of the more famous land speed racers if he had concentrated only on setting records and building faster and faster cars. If only he had spent all his life as an artist and devoted every second to that craft, maybe he would already be a household name outside of the motorsports world. But he isn’t that kind of man. He wants to live life, not simply be a name in any one field. He gave everything that he had to whatever it was that he was trying at the time and still spending time with his family, which meant so much to him. He was acquiring friends and experiencing life while he was conquering the loves of his life. Bob McCoy is famous in his own right and respected by his peers. His achievements in oval track racing, land speed time trials, rodeo and as an artist are already known by those who are a part of those worlds. What Lynn McCoy has done is bring a talented and brave man to the rest of the world. There are some flaws in the book, just as there are some flaws in all books, but in the final analysis, that is, how well does the author manage to educate us about a subject, Circle of Impact is a superior work. I highly recommend it to those who love auto racing and to those who simply love a great story, a moral and uplifting one. Bob McCoy can count his chips and walk away from the gambling table of life a winner right now, but I doubt that he will. There’s simply too much life left in Bob for him to do that and I know that he has a few more challenges that he wants to test. I rate this book a 7 out of 8 sparkplugs and a best buy.
I rate this book a 7 out of 8 sparkplugs.
Pick One Up Today!
Lynn McCoy is the author and sells the books personally at car shows and from her home. You can contact Lynn at PO Box 1084, Lakeside, California 92040 or go on-line at www.BobMcCoyArt.com to purchase a copy. Another way is to go to the major California car shows and look for Bob’s booth. Lynn will have some books on hand and she and Bob will be glad to sign them for you.