OK, so how about some GOOD NEWS for a change?

Went over t'the Post Office yestidday to mail some books & audiobooks (keep those orders comin' in, folks...motorsports journalism don't pay real good when there's no blessed races t'cover) and what should I find in my P.O. box but a big ole mailin' envelope all the way from Californy. And what should I find inside but a bunch of fancy-lookin' certificates! What do you know: the audiobook version of THE LAST OPEN ROAD that I've been shamelessly shilling like a damn carnival barker outside a hootchie-kootchie sideshow (see below)

has been named BEST MOTORSPORTS BOOK of 2019 by the obviously wise, witty, worthy and perspicacious folks at the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association! How about that! And it is, I believe, the first time either an audiobook OR a novel have won that award. So, as you can imagine, I'm pretty chuffed about it! However, even though I shook and shook that envelope, the accompanying $10,000 check and movie/TV miniseries offer from Hollywood were somehow not inside. Imagine. Oh, well...
Also won a "Best Column of 2019" award from the same folks, which I greatly appreciate. I mean, I can't imagine why, but some people actually get TIRED of listening to me tell them how wonderful I am all the time. So it's really nice to have somebody else on the job now and then...
And now:


OK, we have news and BS from other sources today:
First off, my friend and occasional (make that VERY occasional) traveling compatriot Tom Stahler has recently ascended to the position of Managing Editor over at the ClassicCars.com Journal. I wish him well there. And, as he was obviously very hard up for material (not a lot going on in the car world right now, in case you haven't noticed), he decided to take an experience I related to him when we were on our way up to The Monterey Historics and a thrilling and occasionally debilitating stay at Mike Silverman's Montery Beach Menagerie and pre-Detox Center. But I digress. To pass the time, I related the story of my three days as a vastly underpaid but nonetheless star-struck, second-string stunt driver when The Blues Brothers movie was shooting in Chicago. No, really.

And if you'd like to read it, click on this:

Also, while we're digging into my highly suspect past, Pete Vack of the excellent Veloce.Com web newletter has published a couple stories of my racing and cheating escapades with my very first Alfa Romeo racecar. Which I loved, BTW, even as I was beating the living snot out of it. But Alfas seem to LIKE that kind of treatment. Go figure. And anybody who draws any unseemly parallels to my beloved wife Carol is up for a solid punch in the nose. Unless, of course, you're bigger than me. Or nastier looking. Or spent time in jail or reform school or on a sports team at any major university. Anyhow, here are the links:

OK, so this is a BIG week in the motorsports world. You've got Formula One kicking off at the Red Bull Ring in Austria next weekend and IMSA getting ready to do battle on the high banks and around the twisty infield road course at Daytona, plus Indycar open-wheelers sharing a dream double-bill with the NASCAR stock cars at the hallowed Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
And you know what? I've got my fingers and toes crossed and am hoping and praying that all my friends in the motorsports world will take proper precautions and manage to sidestep the obvious challenges presented by the Covid19 pandemic. I HATE the way this thing has become politicized (I warn you: don't get me started) but the bottom line is that I'm supposed to be doing a book signing alongside my friend & fellow book-hawker David Hobbs in the Road America Paddock Store during the big Indycar go next weekend, and we're both pretty nervous about it. I mean, we definitely fall into the Target Demographic category (translation: Pathetic Old Geezers) and this thing is not to be sniffed at or trifled with. Best idea so far is to see if we can come up with a pair of those old, rubberized-canvas suits and big brass helmets that all the deep-sea divers used to wear before Lloyd Bridges introduced the world to SCUBA gear on SEA HUNT.

As of now, our plan is a "go," but we're both going to be keeping an eye on things and working on precautions. I'll keep you posted.
Assuming that comes off, we're planning to return to Road America for the big Vintage go July 23-26 and the IMSA race the week after. Again, I'll keep you posted. And please DO NOT send me links to fringe right-wing YouTube videos that claim Covid19 is a big, fat hoax perpetrated by the lackeys-of-the-socialist-dogs Left-Wing media with an eye towards taking away everybody's AK47s. I mean, what are we gonna hunt varmints with? In any case, I don't have enough time or bicarbonate of soda to deal with this sort of nonsense.

Oh, and I'm making good progress on the new book. Sent several new chapters off to my proofing squadron the other day. So that's encouraging.


I've gone on at length in these e-blasts about the joys of having such a great biking path (actually, two good bike paths) right nearby. I've been riding a LOT since the Pandemic Procedures & Paranoia took over (like 1000 miles...I kid you not), and I must say it's a great and welcome respite from being irritating and/or obnoxious to Carol or sitting here at the old computer, pounding out what I hope will be recognized as compelling prose. Carol and I did 18 miles yesterday (our regular loop), I did another 18 the day before and once last week I got a little crazy and stitched the two paths together for just shy of 40 miles. And if it sounds like I'm bragging...I am.

But the coolest thing is the occasional glimpse of something woodsy and heartwarming. Like this past Monday, there I am, biking along around 9:00 ayem (before it gets stinky hot), and here is this adorable little speckled fawn having Lunch a la Mommy right in the middle of the blessed bike path:

And he/she just stayed there, sucking up nourishment, while I fumbled for my cell phone, more-or-less focused and took a picture.
Also saw (but wasn't quick enough to snap) a gorgeous Indigo Bunting (see web-pirated pic below), which, while not quite on the level of a Scarlet Tanager in terms of knock-your-socks-off oogling, is one very pretty and colorful bird. Especially in a forest where most birds are the color of the forest rather than the color of Christmas lights.

Also saw (Tuesday, it was) a big ole snapping turtle who'd crawled out of the river (OK, creek) that runs alongside the bike path so's he could get a little sun. Right there on the bike path!

He (or she) was about the build of the specimen above and I'm guessing about 20" from the intake end (don't want to get too close to that!) to the sludge-and-exhaust end. And don't let anybody ever tell you turtles are s-l-o-w. Why, when he (or she) heard the click of my chain sprocket and the rubbery squeal off the brakes when I tried to haul 'er down so I could snap a picture...
And acrobatic about it, too, kind of using its head and neck to do an inverted, pole-vault-style back flip into the water. Simone Biles ain't got nothin' on this particular reptile...

OK, what's this damn thing? Where? When?

And while you're at it, what makes it so significant?

OK, friends and neighbors, this time I was hoisted by my own petard (as they say) at the hands of my insufferably well-informed English Racing Nerd/Pub Pedant Bob Allen. See, I KNEW that the marvelous, descended-from-a-fire-pump, all-aluminum alloy Coventry-Climax "FWA" engine first appeared in a Kieft sports car at Le Mans in 1954 (in fact, I just wrote my upcoming Vintage Motorsport column about the Climax FWA and the entire generation of racecars it powered). Ahh, but it took a disgusting know-it-all like Bob to point out that the car I pictured was the OTHER Kieft at LeMans that year, which had a massaged, reduced-capacity MG XPAG motor under the hood. Er, make that "bonnet." But the point is that I got it wrong, and THIS (below) is the CORRECT Kieft racing car that sported the first-ever Climax FWA engine to appear in competition. At Le Mans in 1954. And if it looks like a flounder, you don't need an eye test. Plus it was actually LEADING its class (in spite of a congenital problem with the rear crank seal) until the rear axle broke at something like 10 hours.

All I can say, Bob Allen, is "Curse you, Red Baron!"

OK, all you wrench-heads: what kinda motor is this?

This is the wonderful little SOHC Crosley motor that powered (arguably) America's very first "Compact Economy Car." Here's a pretty complete response Mike Self, who BTW has reviewed several of my books for the excellent BMW club magazine (Rondel) and given them enthusiastic notices. I knew I liked that guy! His answer:

Can't pass up a trivia question about automotive arcana.
That shaft-drive SOHC engine you pictured is from an early postwar Crosley, known as the COBRA engine--stands for COpperBRAzed.  Other than the cylinder bores, it's made from sheet metal, brazed together rather than a casting.
It was developed during WWII as a lightweight engine for a variety of uses, and adapted for automotive use by Crosley.  Unfortunately it rusted out quickly as it wasn't really designed for long life.  Crosley replaced it with the CIBA engine, a conventional cast-iron version of essentially the same engine.  IIRC both engines had fixed cylinder heads, and the block and crankcase were separate, similar to engines from the early 20th century.  The CIBA engine went on to power Flageol outboard motors and refrigeration units for refrigerated railroad cars and long-haul trucks.  And H modified race cars.

Well done! And here (photographed on a side street in Watkins Glen during the Vintage GP Weekend) is the not terrifically inspiring, at least on the outside, car it went in:

And same car below. Awwwwww:

Shameless personal aggrandizement dept: What am I driving here? And BTW, where is "here?" 

No answers yet, so we'll let this one ride awhile...

And now, for you musically inclined semi-gearheads and non-gearheads of an appropriate and dignified age (GOOGLING is CHEATING, BTW!!!): give me either the MISSING GROUP or THE MISSING LEADER or MISSING PARTNER (bonus if you give me a hit song they're associated with):

Little Anthony and The Imperials
Elvis Presley and the Jordanaires
Curtis Mayfield and The Impressions
Dick and DeeDee 
Ruby and The Romantics
Nino Tempo and April Stevens
Flash Cadillac and The Continental Kids
Keely Smith and Louis Prima
Bob Marley and The Wailers
Gladys Knight and The Pips
Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers
Smokey Robinson and The Miracles
Junior Walker and The All Stars
Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons
Florence and The Machine
Prince and The Revolution
Martha and The Vandellas

You can find them all on the playlists I listen to when I'm not listening to Lizst or Pat Metheny or Roger Miller or Cole Porter or...don't get me started. I like all kinds of music. Except for maybe rap. But I'm not sure that's really music...

OK, this one stumped even the great Bob Allen. Me, too. So if you can identify this...this THING, I'll be both grateful & amazed. So c'mon: WHAZZIT??? 

Into every life a little rain must fall. Just got a call from my doctor. Seems I've tested positive for the dreaded Covid19!!!
See, I went up to sign books a couple weeks ago (but I was REALLY careful...honest) and am also the go-to guy around our house when it comes to trips to the store (not Carol's fault...I WANTED to get out & about). So even though I felt fine, I figured I should maybe get tested. You know: the deal where they stick a giant Q-tip up your nose until it reaches the underside of your bald spot. And if you don't happen to have a bald spot, I really don't want to hear about your luminescent, luxuriant locks. Just remember: bugs live in there...
Anyhow, now it's three days later and we have the results. I can sum them up as: "Phooey."
So far I still feel great and have no symptoms at all, but forewarned is forearmed, n'est ce pas?
We'll keep you posted...

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: