Neal: info (at) nealthompson (dot) com

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Agent: Rob Weisbach Creative Management –

Publicist (at Crown) for A Curious Man is Ellen Folan: 212-782-8944,

Publicist (at Crown) for Driving with the Devil and Light This Candle is Sarah Breivogel: 212-572-2722,

Publicist (at Free Press) for Hurricane Season is Kate Jay: 212-698-7528,

-Neal is available to visit your school, library, book club, bookstore, company, or bar, to talk about his books, writing, publishing, or whiskey.

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  1. Martha Brown

    I have just finished “Driving With the Devil”, and although I’ve never followed NASCAR and never been to a automobile race of any kind I thoroughly enjoyed your book. My mother and Raymond Parks were second cousins, both grandchildren of Alfred & Arie Barnes (now we know it was Barron) Parks. My mother descends through Sarah who m. Robert Bennett. Also, Walter Parks and Miller Parks both married nieces of my grandfather, Sam Bearden. Your book was not only well researched, but well written. I appreciate the fact that you gave Raymond his due. He was an amazing man, one I didn’t hear much about growing up. My mother’s family kept up with North GA kin, but my grandfather was a very wise man and saw the direction things were going in the mountains during the early part of the 20th century. Having two boys and three girls at the time he moved his growing family to Morgan County to give them a chance at education and better transportation. He also didn’t want them part of the liquor business that he saw was destroying so many members of his own family. In defense of the bootleggers, the only thing that made it a “sin” was that the government wasn’t getting any money from it, government coming to the alcohol well every time they needed money.

    My grandfather’s strategy worked. His sons were not involved, but they were always fascinated by the way of life. He did have one of the earliest cars in Morgan County, and brought it home to tell his boys…”All right, boys! Take ‘er apart, see how she’s put together and put her back together again.” A mandatory visit to NGA was always in the works in the summertime when all the brothers came from Michigan, my mother from SC, and those in GA “came home to Grandma’s.”
    Hope this isn’t boring you…one last story. An aunt told me that when she was newly married my uncle wanted to visit a cousin of his. It was either Miller or Walter’s wife. My uncle and aunt lived in Atlanta and the Parks (I don’t remember which one) lived in Decatur. When they got to the house the Parks cousin (Bearden) said, “Well, if you want to see _____ we’ll have to go to the jail.” Uncle Harvey did, and they went. My aunt said that cousin ___ went into the jail just like she “was the queen of Sheba.” Parks was in jail for running the bug. My aunt was mortified!
    With my grandfather’s family, family was first. They were very close. I think it’s to Raymond’s credit that he seemed to take care of family, also.

  2. Andrew King

    Just finished “Light This Candle”. Amazing book. Thank you for writing this. I have read very few books that nearly brought me to tears….but, this one did. You are an extremely talented author. Again, thank you.

  3. Neal

    Thanks so much, Martha and Andrew… I’m flattered, and grateful that you both took the time to contact me. Please send me your email so I can send occasional updates on my books. And feel free to spread the word to family and friends. Thanks.

  4. Vicki Boyd

    Finished reading “Driving With the Devil” late last night. Remarkable book! Had read “Wettest County in the World” which segued nicely.

    My father and his brother have followed racers all their lives and knew everything about the ones featured in your book. (Both in their 70’s) Together they have compiled approximately 15 volumes of racing archives from those early days at Daytona, etc., with each picture listing dates, locations, starting line ups, finishing line ups, etc. Most Obsessive-Compulsive thing you can imagine. Ha! Museum at Talladega has contacted them several times requesting that they come help identify old pictures, but neither will go anywhere if they can’t be home by dark.

    Ventured to Anniston, AL from home town of Gadsden, AL (Hokes Bluff) a few weeks ago to take pictures of a midget racer still hanging above a garage door. My dad says it has been there since the early 40’s. No one else left to coroborate its history but he can go on indefinitely.

    He no longer attends races (hates crowds) and would never wear a t-shirt emblazoned with anything, but built and raced stock cars in the 60’s and still considers his team quite a legend.

    Yours is the only book he has ever recommended to anyone. Glad he recommended it to me!

    Vicki Boyd

  5. Anonymous

    Hey Vicky, Great to hear from you, and really glad you (and your father and brother) enjoyed “Driving with the Devil.” I wish I’d been able to meet with them during my research. Sounds like they might’ve been able to clear up some of the many questions I had (especially about Red Byron and his days in Alabama). Thanks for touching base, and enjoy the holidays. All the best, Neal (

  6. Ianclarke

    Hi Neal,

    I’ve just finished reading “Light this Candle” for the second time. What a brilliant read! I have always been interested in space and the stars although I was born in 1979 so I didn’t really know all that much about the space race; it was more about the shuttle when I was growing up. However about 4 years ago I was unlucky enough to be struck down with menieres disease. Being forced to face facts and the huge impact it had on my day to day life was a struggle to say the least.

    Then I got wind of an astronaught who had managed to overcome the illness and even fly to the moon – I just had to know more! What a guy, and what a life! A true inspiration to anyone unfortunate to go through having menieres disease. My condition has stabilised for the last couple of years and a few months ago I was lucky enough to fly over to the US (I’m from the UK) and visit the Kennedy space centre. It has to go down as one of the best days of my life. I never thought I’d be able to do that a few years earlier. It was amazing to see the Saturn V rocket but coming a close second was seeing Alan Shepards Corvette with 1st up on the number plate! It was, to quote Alan – Sierra Hotel! I just want to thank you for a great read, I learnt so much other stuff about space and the space race in general, it was very informative. It helped clear up that bit in the movie Apollo 13 where Jim lovell, is told that “Al Shepard’s ear infection has flared up again” – If only they knew! I don’t think he’d have ever got another flight if it had! Anyway, thanks again


    Ian Clarke

  7. Jcanfield

    Neal, Just re-read driving with the devil and foun it fascinating on two levels. I have been a stock car fan since 1959 when i attended my first race at Fonda,{N.Y.] Speedway at age 10. The racing facts and annectodal history were superb but in top of that, I found your writing style to be mosnterestin! Im going to look into some of your other work. Thank you for such an enjoyable journey into the history of the racing game . Joel Canfield

  8. Jim Ravenel

    Hi Neal.. . .
    I tried to send you a message to the old email address I had and it came back: Is that still valid? If not send me the correct one.


  9. Anonymous

    Hey Jim,
    Here’s the new address: neal (at) nealthompson (dot) come
    Drop me a line.

  10. Martha

    Loved the book, and glad that Raymond Parks was given the credit he deserved. The Parks family is a colorful one, and it was good to see this part of it recorded.

  11. Anonymous

    Thanks @9b8d46fbe18e10f80880ec1ffef9d1ff:disqus – glad you enjoyed “Driving with the Devil”, and thanks for stopping by.

  12. Betty Ward

    Are you available for book reading/signing in Mocksville, NC October First, 2011? Betty Ward

  13. Billypinckard

    neal just finished driving with the devil great book  you must have had a WONDERFUL time with mr. parks.  there is a whole other story regarding the numbers running part of the story.i would be glad to share if you are every interrested.  GREAT JOB TEE BOOK GAVE ME MUCH PLEASURE         billy              

  14. Anonymous

    Hi Billy, Thanks so much for the plug. Glad you enjoyed it. I feel lucky to have gotten to know Raymond before it was too late. And yeah, I bet there’s another whole book about the numbers running. Tied up with other things now, but I’ll keep it in mind. Take care!

  15. Jnlproffitt

    I just finished reading “Driving With The Devil”. You are a very talented writer. I loved the history you gave throughout the book. Especially the Scot-Irish history. I have followed NASCAR since the fifties (I’m 68 years old) and I was happy that someone told the true story of NASCAR.
    Joe Proffitt

  16. Anonymous

    hi joe. thanks for the comment. really glad you enjoyed the book. neal 

  17. Toddwilliams

    Hey, Neal. I think its really cool you made Red Byron part of your book. He was married to My great great Aunt and my grandpa has told me stories about when he used to go to the race with him. Its been fun reading a history of a family member I never met.

  18. Anonymous

    Hey Todd, Thanks for touching base. Great to hear from someone connected to Red. Glad you enjoyed the book. Take care, Neal

  19. Frank

    Neal, I’ll join in the praise for the Red Byron material. His interest in road racing and sports cars was somewhat unusual (in the best possible way), and my curiosity about it prompted me to read your book. (I’ve also added your Alan Shepherd book to my “things to read” list.) I wonder whether it would be possible in subsequent editions of “Driving with the Devil” to correct the mix-up about the 12 Hours of Sebring being a race for open-wheel cars.

  20. Mary Thompson Calhoun

    I just finished “A Curious Man”, and LOVED it! It offers a fascinating portrait of the man–and the showman–Robert Ripley. You did a great job with your subject.

  21. Tom Kanach

    Loved the book. How do I get a signed copy?

  22. Jan Brueckner


    Thanks for the great time in Seattle—we loved it. Could you send me your regular e-mail address? I can’t upload the pictures I wanted to send using you site because of the 2 MB size limit (they’re a bit bigger).

    Thanks again,


  23. smitty

    Neil thanks for a really wonderful read about Ripley just great if you are ever in Boston I am a tour guide and i will show you around for a fee of course Lee

  24. John LaTorre

    I enjoyed “A Curious Man,” Neal. I did find one small but remarkable error: C.C. Pyle never owned the remains of Elmer McCurdy, but only rented them from Louis Sonney, according to Mark Svenbold’s marvelous book “Elmer McCurdy: the Misadventures in Life and Afterlife of an American Outlaw.” And it is true that poor Elmer was finally given a decent burial, but not by Pyle or Sonney, nor any time right after the Bunion Derby. Instead, he continued to be exhibited in one venue or another until 1976, long after Pyle and Sonney had died. His death certificate was finally written up in 1977, a full sixty-six years after his demise! He was buried that same year, after a sixty-year posthumous career in show business. So here we have a story that Ripley himself might have savored, about a man who roamed the earth for sixty-six years after his death. I heartily recommend Svenbold’s book to you, with a warning that if you start it, you probably won’t put it down until the last page.

  25. Doug Simpson

    Hi Neal. Just finished “Driving with the Devil”. A wonderful work that needed to be written. I am 73 now. I was raised close to the ghost track” charlotte Speedway” As a boy I watched Red Byron, the Flock Brothers and a young Curtis Turner and Junior Johnson Race there’ I was usually in a tree on the other side of the boarded fence. It is kind of ironic to me that this is where NASCAR STOCK car racing began. The first year are not apart of available history except in your book. I am so glad that you and your sons knew Raymond Parks. You have done Raymond agreat service and I wishewd that every racxe fan would read your book.

  26. Nick Shoemaker

    Hey Neal! I was wondering if you could spare any time at all, and possibly email me? I am working on a screenplay for a movie that I’m pitching next year about nascar, well the birth of it, and your Book “Driving with the Devil” is just fantastic! I want to combine a lot of what catches the eye theatrically in todays wide world of film but also, make it as close to being historically correct as possible! I would be so far beyond appreciative if you could get back to me, and forever in your debt! thank you so much! God bless!

  27. Robb

    Wow. Way cool book. A BION fan since I was a kid (52 now)… I forced my parents to take me to a FL Odditorium in the early 70s on a family trip (I live in WI). I have some stuff from there that I hope that IDW can use for upcoming reprint collection.
    One question: I used to own the PB books, and sadly gave them away. Other than the recently-reprinted 1st book, what books had additional printed explanations, as opposed to just cartoons? I seem to remember that the 3rd series did, but by the time of the 6th series, I think it was just cartoons. Can you help?

  28. Thomas Pope

    Dear Neal,
    I’ve greatly enjoyed your fine book on Ripley — lovely work, and congratulations.
    However, a question: did you ever in your research come upon the name of Fred Wish? He was Ripley’s agent, I think during the 1930s. Fred was my Great Uncle (my father’s mother’s brother) and a top agent of the period. In fact, he was also the agent for Will Rogers, who was, as you say, a friend of Ripley’s. I remember as a boy visiting Uncle Fred (he died 35 years ago, and was an old man then, full of stories) and seeing a framed print of a Russian Wedding, a lovely painting, signed as a gift to my Uncle by Ripley, with his very distinctive signature. I was too young to ask him about his time with Ripley, although he did tell me a story or two about Will Rogers. In fact, in 1927, the American government hired my Uncle Fred to represent and protect Charles Lindbergh who, just back from crossing the Atlantic, was the target of lots of unscrupulous people trying to cash in on Lindbergh’s fame and inexperience.
    Anyway, did you come upon anything about Fred Wish, any business correspondence, letters, whatever? Just curious.
    Thanks again for your lovely book,
    Thomas Pope

  29. Tony Klimas

    Hey Neal, I just finished reading A Curious Man and really enjoyed it. Many years ago I was given a scrapbook my uncle put together in the early 1930’s. He lived in Chicago all his life, and was involved in city affairs, politically. In this scrapbook was a Ripley cartoon from what I guess to be a Chicago newspaper. The reason he put the cartoon in the scrapbook is he must of sent Ripley a copy of a classified ad that my uncle put in a newspaper, in the personal section. The ad read, ” PROSPERITY, please come home, all is forgiven.” My uncle wrote the date on the cartoon, 9/14/33. When I had asked another uncle of mine why he did this, he told me he sent this to Ripley as a wager to see if the ad would make Ripley’s cartoon. I have since removed the cartoon from the scrapbook and had it laminated and framed. Please let me know if you would like a picture of it, I’d be glad to send it to you. Thanks again for a great read. I’ve always been fascinated by things such as this, and I live near one of Ripley’s museums in Myrtle Beach. I hope to read more of your books in the future. Sincerely, Tony Klimas

  30. Janice Hardacre

    I am so glad you took the time and effort to write The Curious Man. It provided such an insight into this man and his lifestyle. I feel overwhelmed with the amount of detail and description that the book contained. It’s funny that I also recently visited the fairly new Toronto Ripley’s Aquarium and then came across your book. I do remember as a child living in a farming community 100K north of Toronto that I would look forward to finding the Believe It Or Not cartoon in a magazine (I can’t remember what it was) that came my way. I look forward to reading another one of your books.

  31. Janice Hardacre

    After reading The Curious Man, I was compelled to read another of your books, just finishing Driving With the Devil – which put me on the edge of my seat with suspense during the play by play description of the professional races. I love your writing style and humour – it looks like I will be heading for Book No. 3 soon!

  32. lizejane

    Hello Neal. I am from Dawsonville, Ga, and my family were all interconnected with the moonshine business. It was fascinating to read your book and was discussed thoroughly among us. If you are interested I have some newspaper articles regarding Roy Hall in the 40’s that I am pretty certain you have not read, and some stories from my family who knew him. They are not particularly flattering. Should you want to see them, Is there an email address I can send the attachments to?
    Lisa Thurmond Lee

  33. Jeffrey Kanode


    I just finished “Driving With The Devil.” I was mesmerized. As a lifelong NASCAR fan, Southerner, and writer myself, I just wanted to give you my thanks.

    The rich narrative of American stock-car racing deserves the poetic, scholarly treatment you gave it. Red Byron in particular has always stood in the shadows for me. Since I was a kid, I could identify him as NASCAR’s first champion, but I found no other light cast upon him. Now, I am absolutely in love with Red Byron. Thank you for bringing Red into the light. God knows he deserves to be in NASCAR’s Hall of Fame.

    Prior to your “Driving…” I thought the best written NASCAR book to be Ed Hinton’s “Daytona.” I still love Hinton’s work, but “DWTD” now holds the title for best NASCAR/stock car book ever.”

    A million thanks!
    Jeffrey Kanode

  34. Gaetano Vindigni

    Mr Thompson,

    All but one of my life mentors are known to me except one. Those that I am aware of are my father and mother, my public school teachers, the neighborhood beat police officer, my scoutmaster, the nuns and priests of the Church of the Nativity on the lower east side of New York City and the Mercury Seven Astronauts. But my first mentor, who provoked an interest in aviation simply by buzzing me in his US Navy Corsair, is unknown to me. It may have been Alan B Shepard who was flying the US Navy Corsair from the USS Franklin Delano Roosevelt aircraft carrier in the Mediterranian sometime in 1949 when I was 4 years old. Coincentally, I met Admiral Shepard in 1966 (approximately) at my active duty station, US Naval Air Station Floyd Bennet Field, where he was readying to climb into his NASA T38 for the flight back home.

    I am not absolutely certain that it was 1949 and may have occured sometime between Admiral Shepard’s tour and 1953. The day it happened, I was carrying home to my mother a discarded GI can filled with water. Half way home I quickly turned my head to the right and the loud sound of a US Navy Corsair moving quickly over the low rooftop of my neighbors homes. It was blue with a white star on its side and the pilot was wearing a white helmet. He was looking at me! That was the day I became interested in aircraft. Now the shoulder carry I learned from my grandfather placed my left hand on the left hip and my right arm and hand reaching over my head to hold the GI can. So it must have been one of the smaller cans left behind by the US invasion forces in 1943. Maybe members of the Rainbow Division. So, was I strong enough to carry that can at age 4 or later at age 7?

    My mother was still home in 1953 but immigrated first for the United States in March 1954 on the Andrea Doria. My father, brother and myself followed in December of 1954. Once there I quickly became friends with my classmates who introduced me to, and awakened, plastic aircraft models. I built many for the next 15 years. After I applied, and was accepted, to attend the NY City (magnet) Aviation High School one of my shop teachers was a US Navy Chief who took the class to Floyd Bennet Field. I joined the US Navy during my junior year in April 1963.

    Between the time I applied to Aviation High and active duty in the US Navy in 1964, my new mentors were, initially the Mercury Seven astronauts. All the others that followed were also an inspiration to me. While on active duty, I decided to obtain the high schoold academic credits needed for Parks College. After 2.5 years I entered college in 1969. Although not a good student, I did develop a lifelong interest in learning all that I could about anything that interested me.

    Although I did not achieve a position with NASA or attain flight status on the Space Shuttle, I believe the desire to learn is something I share with the Astronuats and NASA. I have (maybe) Admiral Shepard and (certainly) the Mercury Astronauts to thank for that. I am now retired and hanging ten on eternity.

    It is my belief that when the fastest and sleekest spacecraft to arrive at the edge of the Universe, it will find that the spirit of all that came before will be there including two golf balls.


    Gaetano C. Vindigni

  35. Robert Harrison

    Hey Mr.Thompson, I just wanted to leave a quick thanks. Your book Driving With the Devil has really helped along my senior graduation project. You’re a terrific author!

  36. Glenn

    Just finished Driving with the Devil late last night. I’m a recent retiree from NJ and have developed a strong interest in NASCAR. Fortunately we relocated to Charlotte and that makes it much easier. Been to a couple of races and the HOF several times. Great place to visit, a real must for even the casual fan.
    Thanks so much for writing the fascinating history of the genesis and embryology of what we see now. You did a great job bringing all the drivers and races to life. We pass Darlington on the way to Myrtle Beach and I remember the first time I drove by thinking to myself, “huh?”. This can’t be THE Darlington. A few months ago on a drive up from Texas I dove by Talledega and was equally fascinated.
    Being in the Charlotte area now makes the names and places of the towns and tracks so much more real. Thanks again so much.
    On the the book!
    Glenn Molnar DMD

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