William Neely

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William Neely was an American actor and writer, most famous for his book Stand on It by Stroker Ace. He was born in Jane Lew, West Virginia, August 18, 1930, the son of Walter and Madge Neely. After high school, Neely graduated West Virginia Wesleyan College, completing a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. He spent a year (1952–53) pursuing graduate work at West Virginia University. He served as sports editor of the Clarksburg Exponent and editor of the Hinton Daily News before returning to his alma mater as director of public relation. Neely went to work for the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, serving as manager of racing public relations from 1961-1966. In 1966 he left Goodyear to work as public relations manager of central region for Humble Oil Company, a position he held until 1970. Neely retired in 1970 to concentrate on writing full-time. His first book, Spirit of America, was published in 1971.

Bill Neely's best-known work was published in 1974, Stand on It by Stroker Ace, co-written by Bob Ottum. The novel, based in part on Neely's own experiences as a professional auto racer and on his experiences in the racing world with Goodyear and in part on NASCAR legend Curtis Turner, became quite popular for its gritty humor and its pull-no-punches depictions of the world of professional stock car racing. The novel was made into a 1983 motion picture, Stroker Ace, starring Burt Reynolds and Loni Anderson. It also inspired a song, "Stoker's Theme", by country legend Charlie Daniels.

Neely continued to write, particularly about the world of American stock car racing. Notable works include biographies of two of the sports founding pioneers — Cale: The Hazardous Life and Times of America's Greatest Stock Car Driver (Cale Yarborough) and King Richard I (Richard Petty). He has also served as a contributor to both Playboy and Sports Illustrated. Mr. Neely was the first recipient of the West Virginia Writers Association ""Summit Award"", for a ""lifetime of excellence as a professional writer."

He died Tuesday, March 25, 2008, at the age of 77,in Wilmington, NC following complications from heart surgery.

Works Published[edit]

  • Spirit of America
  • Grand National
  • A Closer Walk
  • Country Gentleman
  • Drag Racing
  • Stand On It (with Bob Ottum)
  • Cars to Remember
  • Playboy Book of Racing, Driving and Rallying
  • Daytona U.S.A.
  • Official Chili Cookbook
  • Roy Acuff's Nashville
  • A.J.: The A. J. Foyt Story
  • 505 Automobile Questions (You Were Afraid to Ask)
  • Cale: The Hazardous Life and Times of America's Greatest Stock Car Driver
  • King Richard I
  • Alone in the Crowd
  • Pilots

He also starred in I Know What You Did Last Summer, ESPN Sports Center, Matlock, and The Night Flier.