Those of you with a geographic/meteorological bent (this is where I get off, BTW) know that The Doldrums are a region in the middle of the earth's great oceans from roughly five degrees above the equator to roughly five degrees below (known among highfalootin' atmospheric & scientific types as as the "Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone," or "ITCZ," and I only know that because I looked it up), and it's where the southwestern trade winds of the northern hemisphere come into creeping, rush-hour intersection, bumpers-locked confrontation with the opposing northeasterly trade winds from the southern hemisphere and produce a sort of atmospheric gridlock where there's no wind at all.

Experienced sailors call this "being becalmed," but don't let the name fool you. There's nothing calm about it. At least not on the inside. It's an itchy, edgy, gnaw-on-your-fingernails uncomfortable place to be. And it's right where a lot of us are right now.
Me, included.
Sure, I start each day full of ambition (that's usually good for a half-hour, max) and then everything gets mired into a sort of oatmeal-consistency slog with no overriding sense of urgency to it.
I'm sure a lot of you have been feeling the same way these days. And watching all the you-can't-avoid-it-nohow political crap on TV just makes things worse. I got some friendly (I think?) suggestions that I leave politics the hell out of these e-blasts the last time I said something less than flattering about our current Attorney General, but I have to tell you, I'm sick to death of BOTH sides. And even sicker about how "I can't talk to you/you can't talk to me" polarized things have become.

On the plus side, I've been surprised, humbled and gratified by all the email messages we've received from folks who want to know how we're doing and how the new book is coming? Let's take those one at a time.
1) Carol and I are FINE. Yes, we did both test positive to Covid19 a couple months back, but neither of us got terribly sick from it (no fever, no congestion) so we were incredibly fortunate, as we know folks who have had serious cases of it. That said, the upstate vote is apparently still out on immunity and whether you can get it again, so we're being pretty careful about masks, social distancing, staying close to home, etc.
2) Ah, yes...The Book. Went through a real low period (see "The Doldrums," above) that I'm just now crawling out of. It happened like this: As many of you know (and in response to all the folks who have kindly inquired about what the hell has happened to my original narrator Buddy Palumbo and his extended family? And I realized I wanted to know that, too. But I still had the creepy situation I left my other narrator/alter-ego hero Hank Lyons in at the end of the last book. So I had this wild-n'-crazy idea to use BOTH of them in the last book in the series, and volley the narrative back-and-forth between them.
Good idea, right?
But not super easy. My original plan was to alternate a "Hank" chapter with "Buddy" chapter and tell the story from both points of view. But that structure went over the side pretty quickly once I realized, through writing, that some of the narration blocs would be, of necessity, far longer than a single chapter.
"That's OK," I told myself. "I can make this work..."
And I still believe I can. Only it's sent me up a couple blind alleys. One in particular, in fact.
You need to understand that "Steamroller III, Assault on Four O'Clock" has actually been in process (although not always on the front burner) since just after the last book was published. And it wasn't until several years in that I hit on the idea of using both narrators.
And now we come to one of the great lessons of auto mechanicing (and so many other facets of life) that Buddy learns at The Sinclair: "The long way is really the short way." 
So here's what happened. I had an already written section from a few years back (race day at the 1963 Indianapolis 500) with Hank as my narrator. Only I'd decided since then that I was going to use an invite from Hank to bring Buddy to that race to bring him back into the story.
But I had all these wonderful (well, passable) pages already written. So I tried taking the lazy way out and letting Hank tell that part with the idea that I'd hand off the narration to Buddy after the race. So I cut and patched and filed and filled in the cracks with Bondo (metaphorically speaking) and it was about when I got down to the fine-grit sanding that I came to the sorry conclusion that it just didn't work. Or not like it should work, anyway.
So there was two-and-a-half weeks down the toilet. Followed by a dead calm (see "The Doldrums," above) of creative depression and general malaise.
Had to take a break to work on my column and the third installment of my "Alfa Amore" reminisces for Pete Vack's "Veloce Today" e-newsletters, and I am starting to get the zip back into my brain and fingers. Will be back to the book again later today, and I'm thinking I'll have it done (it's gonna be a FAT one!) by the end of the year. Fingers crossed.
And, BTW, you are gonna LOVE the ending. I promise.

So what else is new? Lessee:
Hated to miss our usual trip out east for Lime Rock's Labor-Day weekend Vintage Festival and the SVRA's Watkins Glen Vintage Grand Prix and attendant Street Festival, But The Glen was cancelled entirely and Lime Rock was held with masks and social distancing (as it should be) but without spectators, vendor midway and the Murray Smith's usual and stellar array of special features (like the Concours in the Park on Sunday) and motoring personalities that make it, year in and year out, one of the best events on the calendar.
But the travel and expense involved looked like a fiscal loser from the book-hawking perspective, so we reluctantly took a pass.
Next year for sure!!!! And with the new book!

Speaking of books, please keep my books in mind when it comes to holiday gift-giving. Not to mention the thoroughly entertaining The Last Open Road audiobook, which was selected--ahem--as "Best Motorsports Book of 2019" by the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association AND won a "Best Automotive Heritage Book of 2019" award from the Automotive Heritage Foundation...first time ever for a work of fiction OR an audiobook in both cases! Or you can become a sponsor of the last book in the series (see windmill-tilt explanation above) for less than the cost of the fancy downtown dinner (with drinks) that you can't go out to anyway on account of the pandemic.
All of the above (plus lots MORE!) are cheerfully made available on The Last Open Road website*:
Other stuff:
Our sylvan nearby bike path has been a sustaining and rejuvenating place to go through all of the angst, ennui and aggro mentioned above, and I've watched two small, delicate fawns grow over the summer and begin to lose their spots:

Plus this dude:

About whom I can only say "NICE RACK!"
And shame on all the guys out there who are snickering. I hear you!

Future "BS" Sightings:
We'll be cautiously putting our collective toes in the water again at the co-sanctioned VSCDA/HSR Elkhart Lake Vintage Festival at Road America September 18-20, where I'll be covering things for the magazine and doing my masked-and-social-distanced best to hawk books and audiobooks, etc. at our usual spot inside the singular and spectacular Road America Paddock Shop. It should really be a prototype for ALL major racetrack stores in that they not only have the usual track-logo T-shirts, caps and sweats (in, BTW, a bewildering variety of styles and colors), but also motorhead-themed lamps, artwork, posters, books, wall hangings, furniture, jigsaw puzzles, novelties, toys for the kiddies and Lord only knows what else. It's a great and eclectic place to browse and buy, and I recommend it highly.
As I do Road America, in case you've never been.

Speaking of which, we plan to be back to Road America for the SCCA Runoffs October 8-11. If you've never been and enjoy close, hard-fought, competitive racing in a wild variety of classes, it's a Must-Attend event.

More anon...

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: