This link is currently down
thanks to the legal types at NBC,
who apparently think we're
trying to get away with something.
We're trying to figure out what?

Did the right side of my brain leave the
left side of my brain behind???
OK, it's like this, folks:
When I first came up with the grand notion of turning THE LAST OPEN ROAD into a 1950's radio-play style audiobook, I could visualize (or should that be hear in my inner ear?) how it would sound. And three years, a bunch of new friends/collaborators and more damn dollars, grief, setbacks and delays than I ever imagined later, I had a finished product that was pretty damn close to the original concept. And Carol and I and our wonderful production crew were all truly pleased with it. And the reception/reviews have been more than kind. Enthusiastic, even. Sales have been pretty good, too...
HOWEVER (the other shoe drops...with a thud):
It was my bright idea that we should begin with hard-copy-only sales (so both ourselves and the specialist book shops, racetrack/car museum gift shops, web stores, etc. who have sold and supported my print books over the years would have something to sell, on a fairly exclusive basis, before we branched out (next year) into the mass-market, web-download arena that is the major source for audiobooks these days. Maybe that was a great idea, maybe it was just another one of those, as I believe George Armstrong Custer may well have said: "We'll just take them injuns on from that little mound of high ground over there..."

Point is that anytime you decide to swim upstream against the Tide of History, you may run into a few wee problems. Endurance being one of them. Lack of knowledge about the things you thought you knew all about would be another. And let's just throw innocence, arrogance and hubris in just for the hell of it. Bottom line is that we (that would be me plus anyone foolish enough to follow my lead...wife Carol as Exhibit A) found ourselves caught on the cusp of a technological revolution as far as in-car audio systems were concerned.
See, back in Ze Olt Dayz, you could get your audiobooks on cassette tapes. Remember them? If you do, you remember trying to re-wind the spaghetti-mess of tape in your lap and spilling over onto the floorboards by twirling the stub-end of an old ball-point pen (or, better yet, pencil) pressed through one of the plastic reel hubs on the cassette body whilst muttering foul words through tightly clenched teeth.
If you've never experienced that, you're probably too young to be reading my damn books.
But glad to have you on board anyway...
Anyhow, the inevitable frustrations of the cassette era were replaced by the then-magical technology that somehow carried music, language and all manner of human history, creativity, greatness and foolishness on mirror-shiny plastic CD discs. And lots of cars out there have CD slots, so no question we had to make a CD set version of the new audiobook. And that worked (and continues to work) just fine. No complaints.

Ahh, put technology is an ever-moving target (Jeez, can't you ever leave us old guys alone? I was happy with 8-track tapes...) and lots of new cars these days don't even HAVE a blessed CD slot! Of course, the G.O.C.G (Great Overriding Commercial Goal) is, as always, to obsolete everything you already own and make you go out and buy new stuff. And, as sort of a techno-sadistic coup de gras, bring back the technology you long-since abandoned (see image below):

and make it The Best Thing Ever again! And if you don't believe me, just check out what's been happening with stereo turntables and all those vinyl LPs you threw out as worthless years ago...
(OUICK TRIVIA: who that is in the pic above is just too damn easy. But what make, year and model car is he driving, eh? And the brand of his under-dash 45 player?)
But I digress. And none of you are likely surprised.
The bottom line is that the USB slot and mysterious, probably-an-alien-takeover-plot "look ma, no physical connection at all" bluetooth technology has replaced the CD slit in modern-day automobiles. So we also debuted the new audiobook on a quite beautiful, chromed-metal-with-fancy-leather-strap-and-magnetic-closure USB thumb drive. And, initially at least, all seemed fine. You could download it into your laptop and listen to it just fine. Or even upload it from there into your blessed cell phone (which, by the way, now knows more about you than you, your spouse/significant other, your parents, your children (if any), your pet(s), your neighbors, your business associates, your lawyer and your accountant combined...see "Alien Takeover Plot" above).
And that all worked as planned. Only then we began receiving a few (very few, in fact) complaints. Most had to do with the chapters not coming up in proper order when you just jammed the thumb drive into the USB slot on your dashboard, and the specific audio system in the car not showing a menu of the chapter files to pick from. It took a lot of moaning, grimacing and head-scratching, but I believe we've fixed that problem now, and please reach out if you'd like to exchange your current flash drive for one of the revised versions now going into production. Sorry for the problem and happy to do it.

On a far more insidious note, we have discovered that a few in-car audio systems flash an ominous "Unplayable File" message when they get to Chapter 17. Again, there have only be a few complaints and it only happens when the thumb drive is inserted in the car's USB slot. This had us baffled for awhile, but we called on some well-known experts (see below) and located the problem:

Seems Chapter 17 is:
a) Pivotal in that it amounts to more or less the dramatic motorsports climax of the story
b) Takes place in Watkins Glen during the fabulous-but-ultimately tragic, through-the-streets-and-countryside running of the Watkins Glen International Road Races in September on 1952.
c) Is, by some margin,  the longest chapter in the book. And therein (trumpet fanfare, please) lay the problem. On the CD sets, we tried to fit C17 ("The Glen") on a single CD. But, as Fess Parker as Davy Crockett (or pick your favorite male country-western signer or good ole boy stock-car driver) might have put it: "It jest waren't possible."
Oh, we tried tightening it up and editing it, but, in the end, a CD disc maxes out at something like 80-90 minutes of gab, and C17 was irrevocably on the not-very-far-side of 100 minutes. So we ultimately found a logical break point (tougher and more agonizing/contentious than you might think) and split C17 into two (2) CDs. Part 1 and Part 2. Simple. Problem solved.
Or so we thought...
Turns out some (but not all) in-car audio systems have a little, four-place time counter (from 00:00 to 99:59) to help you find your desired spot or moment on the CD or USB file you're listening to and hopefully enjoying. But if that file runs MORE than the allotted 99:59, the system does what some of those wondrous new all-autonomous/leave-the-driving-to-the-blessed-computers new self-driving cars have been doing and running into a "CANNOT COMPUTE. NOT ENVISIONED BY MY PROGRAMMERS. CAN'T DEAL WITH THIS" brick wall. Or another car. Or a pedestrian. Or a farm animal on a median strip.
You get the idea.
But now that we've identified the problem (see esteemed problem-solver boffin panel above), we have a fix. On the new production run of USB flash drives, C17 will, as on the CDs, be split into the same Part One and Part Two track files. For those of you who may have run into this problem:Ca) I am sorry. If I knew more I'd screw up less.
b) Will happily send you the revised P1/P2 C17 files via download or exchange your flash drive when the new ones become available (3-4 weeks). And, again, the complete C17 file is there on your existing flash drive. But if you're experiencing a problem on your car audio system, you can transfer to your cell phone and listen to it en route via bluetooth or plug-in.
c) See (a) above.

On a happier note, people seem to be liking the audiobook a lot, and that's a good thing since wife Carol really deserves a better next residence than a cardboard refrigerator box down by the Chicago river. Not that I'm trying to play on your emotions or anything...
But if you've bought it and liked it, please spread the word. If you haven't got a copy yet, what the hell's wrong with you? Or are you just plain CHEAP???
BTW, audiobook copies (or signed, personalized copies of my conventional printed books) make EXCELLENT Valentines Day gifts for that special someone. You can buy as many as you like right here:

You'll find lots of other fantastic Valentines' Day (need I remind you that is also Carol's birthday and our 46th wedding anniversary as well?) gift goodies, art prints, logo track apparel, our famous decals, license plate frames & assorted gizmos, gadgets and geegaws. So go ahead. Spend money. Help me pay the damn bills. It'll make you feel good...really it will! It'll make me feel good, too. Take my word as an ex used-car salesman.


The good news here is that there is some. Been slogging away at the new, seventh and last (I swear it!) book in my THE LAST OPEN ROAD series, and I'm hopeful you're really going to like it. But it's tough going, in that:
a) As I grow older, the worms in my brain eat up more and more of the vital wiring, and sometimes I have to remind myself of things that used to be obvious. You know, like when you wander into a room nowadays and then can't remember why the hell you went in there. Which is particularly unsettling if it happens to be the bathroom.
b) The further you go in any ongoing series, the more you realize that you've "painted yourself into a corner" with all the stuff you've conjured up that's already taken place. So I've had to go back and re-read the first two Steamroller books (my God, why didn't I pony up the bucks to hire a more persnickity proofreader?) to bring myself up to speed.
c) The eternal battle in historical fiction is between What to Leave In and What to Leave Out, and I'm fighting this one on a daily and even hourly basis. But I think I'm doing OK, and I hope you'll agree.
d) In that regard, the recent appearance--dare I say preponderance?--of literary and particularly video/cinematic versions of the actual backdrop history against which my Steamroller series takes place has led me off in a slightly skewed (but I think more interesting and entertaining) direction. You'll see.
e) Lastly, a lot of folks have been rightfully badgering me about "What the heck's happened to BUDDY?"  And that's a very good thing for a writer, when people like, respond to and want to hear more about one of your characters. And particularly your narrator. So Buddy will be back in Steamroller III. So will Hank. You'll see...

Still shooting for a mid-summer debut at Road America, but there's an AWFUL lot to be done before then. I'll keep you posted. And please remember that we're still (as always) seeking sponsors for this last book in the series and you can become one of our highly distinguished legion of suckers & supporters by clicking here:


Hope you do.


February 1: Fuelfed Classic European Parts, Miscellany & Memorabilia Swap Meet at THE LAST DETAIL, 2900 Route 41, North Chicago, IL 10am-1pm. Details here: 


March 6-8: Signing books/audiobooks & presenting the 14th annual Buddy Palumbo Award at THE AMELIA ISLAND CONCOURS D'ELEGANCE. Details here: 

March 19-21: Where else but hawking & signing in the air-conditioned Hall of Legends at THE 12 HOURS of SEBRING in company with fellow author/book flogger/really was somebody way back when motorsports & media megastar (not to mention audiobook Mystery Celebrity Guest Voice) David Hobbs. Plus Sebring's own, long-serving media answer-man/PR star Ken Breslauer with his newly revised, expanded and updated (not to mention definitive) history of the 12 Hours of Sebring. Including pictures and details on damn near every car and driver that ever ran in America's oldest world-championship endurance race. Can't wait to get my own copy! Other notable, book-hustling motoring/motorsports personalities may be joining us, too. I'll keep you posted.

More anon.


Admit've missed it!

Below is our last trivia photo, and the truly spectacular news here is that, against all odds, we managed to STUMP our perennially and irritatingly quick-responding and accurate Brit trivia player Bob Allen WITH A FREAKING ENGLISH CAR!

Warms the cockles of my cold, cold heart. Honest it does.
Better yet, the first (and only) correct response came from my great photographer friend and sometimes collaborator Bill Nesius, who somehow recognized the mechanical Frankenstein monster above as the Triangle Special, which amounted to a 21-litre Rolls-Royce engine (Bob Allen subsequently identified it as a Rolls Royce Kestrel V12) crammed into (according to Bill Nesius) the chassis and suspension of a Daimler Scout. Although Bob Allen went Full Obnoxious Pedant on us by noting that "scout" was more of a generic term (like "sports car" or "SUV") and that the actual Damlier "scout car" model would probably have been a "Dingo" or a "Ferret."
In any case, he agrees it's depicted as driven by an apparently exceedingly brave Ted Lloyd-Jones at the Ramsgate Speed Trials on September 30th, 1951.
But Bob was indeed stumped until my friend Bill put him on the scent, so good on Bill Nesius and "nyaah-nyaah-nyaah" to Bob Allen, and let's try something like this for our next trivia challenge:

Car? People? Event?
Let us know!

Catch the latest poop & pictures, the Jay Leno interview, Last Open Road swag & highly inappropriate attire from Finzio's Store and the lurid & occasionally embarrassing "ride with Burt" in-car racing videos on the hopefully now fully operational website at: