"Naked Paddock" Book Review: Drawing from life as a race car driver's wife
Art mimics life in Kristin (MK) Ducote’s newly released book "Naked Paddock." In this novel Ducote’s main character and the events surrounding the lead's life are very similar to what Ducote herself has experienced. Throughout "Naked Paddock" there are many ‘true tales’ regarding a woman’s insights (and juicy behind-the-scenes drama) that occur within the fast and flashy world of motorsports, and nobody can tell it better than the wife of Le Mans driver Chapman Ducote.
Although Kristin Ducote grew up riding horses on a little farm in Florida, her humble (and very grounded) childhood and later adulthood helped to train and prepare her to be the amazingly successful 30-year-old she is today.
This former ‘farm girl’ was at one point homeschooled, “My mom was a teacher and my parents would drive us around the US based on what we were learning at the time. Whether I was studying the Oregon Trail, or the gold mines of California, we would go there,” Ducote said. “I didn’t just want to see stuff, I wanted to learn and experience it.” This inquisitive and adventurous spirit is what propelled Ducote to not only earn a law degree, but travel the world and learn everything about it that she possibly could.
“I later received a Masters of Law, and studied abroad for two years. I learned about international business, and art history, and saw places like Ancient Greece, Australia, Tokyo, Paris, South Africa, and Lima,” she said. Ducote is not only well-traveled but incredibly smart, studious, and multi-talented. She also has a few superstar friends. One day Ducote found herself on a friend’s private yacht cruising around the coast of South Florida and that is when she met her husband, “we've been married for over a year,” Ducote said.
Ducote admits, “I didn’t know anything about the (racing) industry when I met him – I was (literally) thrown into the industry,” and the behind-the-scenes action was even more unbelievable than what she could have ever imagined. So much so that it became the catalyst that inspired Ducote to create the "Naked Paddock" series. It wasn’t long before Ducote’s radically mixed reality (which included watching so many surreal and outlandish behind-the-scenes moments) inspired her to learn every aspect of racing. “I grew up sort of sheltered and was really shocked at what I saw in the world of motorsports,” Ducote said. Running into that world (and seeing it from an outsider’s eye), “not only shocked, but inspired me. Although I had seen the world, no single idea had ever captured my attention until I saw (the private side) of the auto racing world.”
“My husband grew up in the glamorous lifestyle but I am not as impressed with it - we are quite opposite in that regard. I tone him down and he spices me up,” Ducote laughed. Once immersed in the fast and flashy lifestyle, Ducote found herself interacting and even befriending larger-than-life people. She met everyone from trophy wives and pushy agents, to a few seedy characters –- and it was many of these figures who became Ducote’s inspiration in formulating much of the books characters and content.
“I have to be careful with that because I don’t want to make the story too close to home and risk being sued,” she said. Although the characters and their antics are based off of real-life people, stories, and interludes, the novel's characters began to eventually take on a life of their own. “Industry people have read the book and they pick it up (to see if they can determine) who is who in the book,” she laughed.
“When I was writing I always left room for the characters to come to life and make their own decisions,” Ducote said. “when I look back and read the end of the book I can see how the characters have become less like the real people (they were based from) and more-so their own -– they really came to life.”
“Seeing all of these people collide showed me I could create a whole series of novels and when I started writing this book my husband said, 'If you’re going to write about my sport you are going to learn everything (about it),’ ” Ducote said. From that point on there was no stopping this tremendously successful (yet still amazingly grounded) woman to embark full throttle on accomplishing another dream – becoming an author.
“I started by getting a driving coach at Homestead Raceway and learned about racing, data overlays, brake, and throttle. My coach really taught me the ins and outs of the sport and I am now about two seconds shorter in (racing) times than Chapman,” she said.
In "Naked Paddock," the main female lead is a doctor who one day finds herself patching up a driver who lives his personal life as fast and brazenly as he races his cars. After a hot pursuit from the slightly flamboyant racer, the successful heroine (who later tries to save another driver from dying on the track) finds herself dating the persistent racer. The doctor is then immediately thrust into a world which includes loan-sharking thugs, to diva-ish wives who have to live with the daily chores of massaging egos and dealing with ‘race girls’ (amongst call girls) who hotly pursue their men.
Life on the race world circuit is intense in every aspect, and Ducote’s grasp of transposing the same ideals from her reality into the main characters not only captures one’s attention, but keeps it. The book is thrilling and gripping and in its entirety leaves the reader anticipating book #2 (which is still in the works).
Once her Le Mans family found out Ducote was writing a book about race life, “people would pull me aside (especially drivers) and would tell me stories about other drivers,” she laughed. The drivers ratted each other out to her and shared many juicy and highly embarrassing stories. Being around, “these talented men reminded me of the show Entourage,” Ducote said. “Here are these talented guys running around playing pranks on each other and since everything in motorsports is amplified (from egos to budgets), the jokes are all bigger too.”
The title of the first book (and the series name) refers to a car paddock which is an area of a race track near the pits where racecars are prepared before a race. "Naked Paddock" refers to the racecar paddock exposed and all its secrets and drama are laid bare, i.e. "Naked Paddock" means the paddock is exposed. Many of those within the Le Mans family were eager to expose many intimate details, especially when it came to the lives of their fellow drivers.
Such excitement has been part of what has fueled the series. To Ducote, “writing is my passion – it’s the thing I want to do most in life,” she said. “Every day I wake up I want to write another chapter.” The author also has two very important goals she aims for while working on a draft. “It was really important for me to make the series technically accurate,” she said. “The movies out there are not accurate like Days of Thunder -- luckily I have a lot of drivers who read my drafts including my husband, father-in-law, and my brother-in-law. I wanted it to be 100 percent accurate so the real truth (and heart of the book) is the actual racing.”
Ducote’s other driving reason for pursuing her series has to do with honoring women who love racing. “As we’ve been marketing racing we've found more and more girls who love it,” she exclaimed. It’s important to support female drivers within the race world because they do have a hard road and they are no less talented,” Ducote said. In book two, “There is a really strong female racer who is introduced and gives insight on her perspective on racers and how the men relate to her.”
Ducote hopes to also inspire others to follow their hearts, whether it is to become a racecar driver, or to pursue their heart's desire. “Don’t give up no matter what you do because there will always be people who criticize you -- so turn it into constructive criticism,” she said. “Learn from your mistakes and don’t get upset with yourself.” And although Ducote is in the glittery world of the race scene she says it is important to remain true to oneself. “When you know who you are and you are confident with who you are as a person, it is hard for anything to affect your personality or affect your values.”
"Naked Paddock" is currently on sale through; http://www.nakedpaddock.com/main.html
Diana Merrill Claussen