It’s that rarest of things: racing fiction that’s actually worth reading. Ten hardcover printings of Burt Levy’s The Last Open Road makes a strong argument for its inclusion among the list of exceptions though, and on the silver anniversary of its first appearance in print, the cult classic has now been reimagined as a radio play and made available as an audiobook.
Following the story of 19-year-old New Jersey has station mechanic Buddy Palumbo as he gets drawn into the world of 1950s sports car racing, The Last Open Road resonates with racing fans through its authenticity: real events, people and cars are interwoven seamlessly with Levy’s own characters and story. Levy’s deep cultural ties to the sport – forged through his own racing exploits, as well as stints as a mechanic, shop owner, high-performance driving instructor, track announcer and journalist – resonate throughout.
That authenticity is carried across into the audio version, which includes background recordings of the actual cars featured in the story as well as live, race weekend crowds at the Siebkens bar in Elkhart Lake and The Seneca Lodge in Watkins Glen. There’s also a long list of ‘mystery celebrity guest voices’: listen carefully to try to spot the likes of Brian Redman, David Hobbs, Ray Evernham, Tommy Kendall, Pat Long, Spencer Pumpelly, John Doonan and Marino Franchitti, among others.
Clocking in at 20 hours, the audiobook would be a solid companion for even the longest holiday season road trip. Look for it as a 20-disc CD set for $65, or a leather strap USB flash drive for $55 from a variety of retailers or direct from www.lastopenroad.com.