My local paper did a brief profile of me.
Local author compares Buddhism, NASCAR
When Staunton author Arlynda Boyer was a little girl, her father took her to Bristol for her first NASCAR race. As soon as she saw Dale Earnhardt's yellow and blue Wrangler Thunderbird tearing up the track, she was hooked.
"When he drove a car, he had a good way of giving his body language to the car," said Boyer, remembering her fascination. "You could tell (when) he was driving angry and when he was driving all out."
In October, Boyer published "Buddha and the Backstretch," a book that compares the Buddhist mentality with that of her favorite NASCAR driver.
Fifteen years ago, Boyer began practicing Buddhism. She was drawn to the faith in part because it encourages people to live in the present and not cling to possessions, anger or regret.
"These people are kind of like NASCAR drivers," Boyer said. "They talk about living in the moment and they talk about giving everything our all and letting go."
A year after Earnhardt's death, Boyer wrote a commentary for National Public Radio about how he and other great drivers served as examples of how to be a better Buddhist.
"You won't find a driver replaying a race five years after its done," Boyer said. "They give it 100 percent, but the minute they walk off, it's done."
The essay became a premise for her book, "Buddha and the Backstretch," which is available at Bookworks on West Beverley Street in Staunton.
Name: Arlynda Boyer
Occupation: Author, prospective grad student
Family: Husband, James Roguskas; cats, Peanut and Indy
Hobby: Poker. "Nowhere else in life do math and luck and psychology crash together like that," Boyer said.
Favorite food: Asian
Books: Non-fiction and anything by Shakespeare
Best advice: "Everything you're choosing to learn is choosing the shape of your own mind," Boyer said. "So choose carefully."
— Rebecca Martinez
Foreword Magazine profiled several new religious books, including mine:
Religions Merge Into One: And a Meditation Runs Through It
Submitted by foreword on Tue, 09/01/2009 - 15:56
We move from “walking the path of kindness” to driving like a bat out of hell as an effective way to investigate the Buddhist mindset. Buddha on the Backstretch: The Spiritual Wisdom of Driving 200 MPH (Mercer University Press, 978-0-88146-174-9) deserves the pole position for portraying Buddhism as no more or no less exotic than a super-hyped stock car plastered with beer decals. Arlynda Lee Boyer is superlative with colorful commentary and insightful explanations of how a firm grasp of flow, mindfulness, patience, endurance, discipline, concentration, equanimity, and finally acceptance (as in death), benefit both racers and meditators. Her book will broaden appreciation of Buddhism’s unparalleled coping skills. It might even create a few unlikely gear heads.
Finally, a NASCAR blog by Art Weinstein reflected the befuddled but interested reaction I've been getting a lot!
Buddhism, Dale Earnhardt and NASCARI'm delighted by the coverage. Buddha on the Backstretch may not have what it takes to be a bestseller, but I'm happy to have accomplished it nonetheless -- and I hope people appreciate what it has to say, even if they're a little confused at first!
A NASCAR BLOG BY Art Weinstein
I thought I’d seen everything in this sport until the other day when a new book arrived in the mail here at NASCAR Scene. The cover featured an illustration of a bobblehead Buddha on the dashboard of a race car, and if that wasn’t enough to hint at what the book was about, the title made it clear: “Buddha on the Backstretch: The Spiritual Wisdom of Driving 200 MPH.”
I’d bet if you went to a typical Sprint Cup race, you’d be able to count the number of Buddhists in the crowd on one hand, even if you had lost several fingers in an industrial accident. But the book’s author, Arlynda Lee Boyer, has been a practicing Buddhist for more than 10 years. Long before she embraced the religion, however, she was a devoted NASCAR fan, and more specifically, a big Dale Earnhardt fan.
She says that after her conversion to Buddhism, she couldn’t help but notice the similarities between the ancient Eastern religion and NASCAR, the Southeastern religion.
“Gradually, it dawned on me that the practice’s dedicated teachers, its monks and nuns deep in intense training, with their laser focus on enlightenment, their serene acceptance of death, and their infectious joy, reminded me of someone: race-car drivers.”
Boyer admits that NASCAR drivers are mostly Protestants, yet again and again, she kept seeing Buddhist principles at work in the sport: “To drive as Earnhardt did, [drivers] must stay on the ragged edge of control, barely hanging on to a car … for three to four solid hours, and they must never once panic.”
Opening this book, my expectations were low, simply because of the whacky premise suggested in the title. But Boyer did a nice job of researching her subject matter and makes some interesting observations comparing the sport and religion. She returns again and again to the subject of Earnhardt, even recounting heartfelt conversations he’d had with Darrell Waltrip and others through the years. She admits Earnhardt himself probably would have “rolled his eyes” at the mention of karma but that, “he would have appreciated the qualities at the heart of Buddhism – self-awareness, presence, compassion and joy.”
If you’re interested, the book is published by Mercer University Press.