Don't want to seem alarmist here (Lord knows there are plenty enough things to worry about these days...just check the oppressive and incessant news-media cycle if you don't believe me), but it seems there has been a bit of a security breach here at BS Central. Which, truth be told, is essentially this desk and this computer (plus the nearby bathroom, kitchen and bedroom, of course) and my laptop when I'm traveling.

I've received reports from a couple different friends, followers, hecklers and acquaintences that they have received e-mails, facebook reach-outs and "Facebook Messenger" messages from me that definitely DID NOT originate here. I have never, EVER used "Facebook Messenger," and the e-mails seem to implore you to try some new product or click on some dubious link, and you can rest assured the only links I will ever offer up are to stuff I'm trying--sometimes desperately--to sell you on my own website. Or maybe a wee nudge towards the Vintage Motorsport magazine webstire to try and get you to buy or renew a subscription. Which you should most certainly do, BTW.
So far there have only been a few reports, and Bob Varsha was kind enough to e-mail that he figured it couldn't have been from me because the grammar was even worse than mine own. Hard to believe, but there it is. So please delete anything from me that doesn't look, sound or smell like me. And as to that presumptive prince in South Africa or the lawyer in Canada who both seem eager to cut me in on an incredible inheritance opportunity...why don't I set the two of you up on a blind date at Starbuck's? Sounds to me like you're made for each other... 


It's been a long time, hasn't it? Since May, in fact. And no question I was suffering from severe withdrawal symptoms. Fortunately, those were the only serious symptoms I had in spite of the positive COVID test back in late May/early June. Carol had it slightly worse than I did, but we got off incredibly light compared to what some friends and relatives and all those poor folks you see on the news have gone through. And are still going through, in case you think it's over...

But life ain't fair, as you may have noticed, and so I was selfishly missing our usual spring, summer and fall trips to various race venues to hawk books, write race reports and hopefully drive some interesting cars that I could never dream of affording. And most especially we missed Elkhart Lake and Road America, which are truly our "Home Away from Home" during the early spring-through-late fall racing season. We love it.

I saw my first race at Road America way back in high school (I remember the Meister Brauser Scarabs made an indelible impression, but my brother was old enough to buy beer in Wisconsin, so the rest of it is kind of a blur) and I'll never forget winning my first-ever race there in 1978. Or was it '79? Carol and I took our family vacations at the old, friendly, but then somewhat rickety  Schwartz's Resort on Elkhart Lake (which has since gone through a succession of ownerships as Barefoot Bay, then Victorian Village, now Shore Club) while Adam was growing up. Usually bracketed around some race weekend or other, of course...can you believe that Carol's still with me? But the point is that the track, the town, the lake, the superbly retro, back-to-the-fifties ambiance, the charming path around the lake that we would walk almost every morning (now closed here and there thanks to a few tight-assed new owners who most assuredly don't deserve to live in such a lovely place) and the history and the heritage that is sheer, enveloping magic to both of us.

It was really tough writing my July race report from here at home thanks to the pandemic, and I was helped immeasurably by eyewitness spies and tattletales and online, as-it-happens race results. But it was still a far cry from actually being there in the shade of the trees overlooking Turn Five and watching the races whilst gnawing on a tasty double bratwurst...

In any case, it was a great relief--and release--when we headed back north again the weekend before last for the VSCDA's annual Elkhart Lake Vintage Festival (a.k.a. ELVF) to hawk some books and audiobooks at our usual spot in the Road America Paddock Shop (see pic below) and cover the event for the magazine.

View from behind our signing table at the RA Paddock Shop
If you've never been, the RA Paddock Shop is really something special, with all sorts of unexpected goodies, geegaws, fun stuff, motor books & posters, wall art, novelties, home decor items and toys and games for the kiddies as well as the usual, track-store logo clothing, caps, flags etc. you might expect. It's an incredible layout, and should be a model for what other tracks could do if they only had the will, imagination and risk-taking gumption.
Due to general paranoia and our positive tests several months back, Carol and I arrived with LOTS of masks (two different styles, in fact), many bottles of hand sanitizer, multiple pairs of non-latex examination gloves ("turn your head and cough") and no helmet/driving suit for yrs. trly. Yes, folks, I hate to admit it, but I didn't even TRY to get a drive this time. And I flat LOVE racing at Road America (and have had quite a bit of success there--class and race wins, lap records and the like--along with wrecking the odd car and blowing up the occasional motor). But it didn't feel like the right thing to do, you know?
Still, it was a wonderful weekend. There was a big turnout, beautiful weather and all sorts of fascinating racecars and street machines scattered all over the place. Including this absolutely gorgeous, delicate and petite little Bultaco Metralla that was up on its center stand outside the shop:

For those who don't know, I've had a long-standing love affair with motorcycles (I had one for my only personal transportation through about two years at college--winters included--and worked in a nearby bike shop as well) even though I wouldn't own one while our son was growing up and still don't like riding in the city and suburbs. Call me a wuss, but I've got too many friends (good riders, too!) who are either on the dark side of the grass or walk across that grass with a serious hitch in their gitalong thanks to, most usually, some drunk, teenager on a cell phone or elderly person in a car who just flat didn't see them. Or saw them but it didn't register.
That said, I love bikes and will surely have one--more than one, most likely--when I get that big movie deal and can afford a place of my own way out in the country where the only person likely to kill me on a motorcycle is me. I'm probably too old and brittle for a motocrosser, but a tough, light and handy Enduro-style dirt bike would be essential. Plus some kind of mile-eating cruiser. But my favorites would surely be a cafe-racer style crotch rocket or two. And near the top of the list, right up with the Ducatis, Guzzis, Nortons and such, would be a Bultaco Metralla. It was one of the first and best drive it/race "cafe racers" of the mid-to-late 1960s, and I remember I almost bought a 200cc example back in school. I took it for a test ride, and it felt like Tinkerbell (or maybe Simone Biles?) compared to my Honda Super Hawk (which, truth be told, was kind of a lead turd in the twisty-road handling department, but which started every time and ran like a train while my British bike and Harley chums were busy fixing stuff in the garage). The only thing that kept me from buying it on the spot and cherishing it forever was that I didn't have any money.
In any case, that beautiful Metralla really brought back some fine memories.
We sold some books and audiobooks in the shop, which was nice for sure after such a lean and home-bound summer. And most folks (emphasis on "most") and the sanctioning body seemed to get the idea regarding wearing masks and social distancing. Which both Carol and I were happy to see. Although one pale and unsteady older gent wandered up sans mask and began what he obviously intended to be a lengthy conversation. I pointed out that it was now a state law that masks were obligatory, at least indoors, but he waved it off by explaining that he was "recovering from a recent stroke" as if that made a difference. At which point I told him that our conversation was over and shooed him away. Some folks just don't get it, you know?
There was some swell racing, too, even if Yours Truly didn't get to take part. And one thoroughly unexpected turn of events had me scrambling late into Friday night and up early on Saturday as well. Seems Featured Famous Guest/Honored Dinner Speaker for the weekend was my friend and notorious ex-pat British racing driver/glib motorsports TV commentator/fellow motor book writer/hawker and Elkhart Lake summer resident David Hobbs.

David (that's him on the left above) and I have gotten to know each other a bit thanks to signing books and commingling funds together at various events and venues (I may have even bought him a meal once...but that seems unlikely, doesn't it?), and he and wife Mags were kind enough to feed me and put me up for the weekend (or put up with me for the weekend, take your pick) at Sebring a year ago March. In fact, I'd actually had something to do with the initial club feeler to get him on board to do the Guest Star bit at the ELVF.
Only David had a bit of knee reconstruction done the week before, and it put him far more out of commission than he anticipated or would have preferred. Plainly put, David was lame and in pain in extremis (although, typically Brit, he didn't piss and moan about it), but even a quick trip to the loo at home was fraught with agony. All sorts of unlikely solutions were proffered, but the basic fact was that he couldn't make the banquet dinner where he was supposed to entertain and regale the crowd (usually a chip shot for David after a few gin-and-tonics) come Saturday evening.
So he suggested maybe I could fill in?
Now, like every other onetime salesman--used cars or anything else--I understand the theory, practice and potential perils of Bait And Switch marketing. Physical harm is never far off the table, and I worried that the crowd might be a) disappointed and, b) take to throwing objects far messier or possibly sharper and heavier than the dinner rolls famous British motorsports personalities have gained a reputation for hurling at one another after a few rounds at the bar before dinner.
Besides, most everybody in the club has already heard me bleating on and on about the many wonderful racecars I've managed to drive (none of which I've owned) or why they need to buy copies of my books and give them as gifts to every single person they know. Dentists, personal trainers, garage mechanics and proctologists included.
Not a bad idea for your own holiday shopping list, either, BTW...
But I digress. Thanks to some exemplary (if seriously technologically challenged) backwards and sideways thinking, we came up with a way to employ the portable speaker I use to play audiobook excepts to unconvinced potential purchasers and hook David up via cell phone to create a not-quite-in-person, interview-format presentation featuring a slide show of photos from his excellent and highly entertaining autobiography:

And that's what kept me up Friday night and again early Saturday morning: copying and inserting photos from the book. And there was so much to pick from. See typical example below:

Above is David's father's XK140 Jaguar drophead, which David somehow convinced his dad that he should be allowed to race. And then he rolled it over. Naturally it was David's first-ever race in the car (at Oulton Park in 1960) and the best part was that the race was televised, so David's dad was able to watch the entire performance, brief though it was, live on his telly at home...
Of course all David needs is a prod, a wink or a few G&Ts to get him rolling, but, truth be told, the phone interview wasn't nearly as lively or entertaining as having his impish and regularly irreverent self there in person. Nonetheless, I give us a top podium finish in the ad-hoc/make-do/keep-calm-and-carry-on category, and it's too bad there was no gleaming trophy or prize money involved. There certainly should have been...

Well, fall's coming on now, isn't it? On my almost daily bike rides on the path through our nearby woods (18 miles most days, but sometimes I get inspired--or want some time away from the old computer keyboard--and do 30 or more), I see the fall flowers blooming in all their allergy-aggravating, late-season splendor:

The leaves are just starting to turn, too. It's frankly amazing how that happens if you walk or pedal through it every day, what with just a little sprig or patch of velvety maroon, red-orange or ochre here and there coming out of the still-lush greenery. Those are special sorts of colors, not the brilliant reds, yellows and oranges that come later, but more like mineral deposits or feldspar or rust on old boat hulls or those lonely, prehistoric rock formations you fly over west of the Rockies on your way to LA.

Sure, winter is coming like the still, grey-white death it is, but there's a comfortable, honeyed melancholy about the fall. You can feel it in the air and see it in the old, fallen trees--dappled with darkened moss and golden, late-afternoon sunlight--that are scattered on the forest floor like dinosaur skeletons. Or maybe like the oxtail bones in the thick barley soup my mom used to start making again when the first chill of winter came into the air.
Yeah, winter's coming, all right. And that's when I'll finish the new book. Really I will. I've got the old mojo working again after a long time adrift and preoccupied with other projects & commitments.

One thing I've noticed is the increasingly suicidal behavior of the striped ground squirrels (you can call them "chipmunks" if you like, but they're not) who have taken to scurrying across the bike path like Kamikaze pilots--tails held high like flags on the back of a speed boat--and you really have to watch the grass verges up ahead as it's easy to miss them (and subsequently NOT miss them) when they're loading up for another mad, manic scramble. You wonder what makes them do it? I mean, they must have seen what happens to their friends and brethren, right? But they just don't seem to care. And that sick but curious little part of me is thinking: maybe these ARE suicide runs. Wouldn't it be better to scamper, happy and headlong until you crash into void, than to sit it out shivering or even freezing or starving to death in January?
Well, wouldn't it?
The grey and brown squirrels are at it, too (but not so much, and with more wariness and halfback moves than the striped ground squirrels) and damn if I haven't seen three garter snakes slithering into the tall grass in the past two weeks (after seeing none all summer)> then there's the fawns I've watched grow all summer until they're starting to look more like deer than fawns.


THE RUNOFFS at ROAD AMERICA: Carol & I will, hopefully and God-willing, be occupying our usual spot inside the Road America Paddock Shop Friday-through-Sunday at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America October 9-11, and we'll be doing our level best to convince friends, fans and passers-by alike to BUY THINGS, as it's going to be a long, cold and lonely winter, and we need money to buy firewood and hot chocolate. Plus Lord only knows when this world will fully emerge from the shadow of the dreaded coronavirus, so you'd better stock up for the long haul:
First there's the books, of course. But how could you possibly be this far down the e-blast if you didn't already know all about them already? Seems unlikely. But do remember they make great gifts, and I'll happily inscribe them to whomever you plan to give them to in such a way that it will be a memorable and personal sort of experience.

Then there's the new(-ish) audiobook, which has earned rave reviews and even a couple nice literary awards, and is, quite frankly, like a movie in your head. 'Nuff said. Here's one of our magazine ads just in case you live under a rock someplace:


Our "Embarcadero" ribbed-fleece pullovers are simply the coolest. And the warmest! Perfect for those outdoor Green Bay Packers games in Lambeau field, and particularly if their getting pummeled by my beloved Chicago Bears (who are surely, at this particular moment, the luckiest damn 3-0 team in the NFL!). Also good for late-season or early-spring races at Road America, which can easily include frost and occasional snowflakes. Everybody LOVES them! So we have a hard time understanding why the importer (or maybe it was the manufacturer?) decided to DISCONTINUE the style. We laid in a pretty big stock when we heard that, but it's been dwindling and once these are gone, there won't be no more...

Finzio's Sinclair track jacket. Show your colors. Comfy and lightweight, but lined & warm. TLOR lettering (or your name?) on the front.
ELKHART LAKE and SIEBKENS caps. Exceptional quality and only a minor gouge on price.

DECALS & LICENSE PLATE FRAMES: You know you want them. And we want you out there showing them off and helping spread the word!


Limited supply, but we have some 8-1/2 x 11, suitable-for- framing copies of friend, sick British Car nut and ace cartoonist Greg Petrolati's wonderful & amusing cover art for my A POTSIDE COMPANION short-story collection. The perfect wall art for any bathroom, loo, crapper or porta-potty. Here's the one Carol matted and framed for our downstairs "guest" can:

Something REALLY special:

Our great friend Carolyn Johnson is a wonderful artist (above is the fall-themed blackboard she did for a local restaurant) and although she doesn't know a high-lift cam from a hig-heeled shoe, she does these wonderful piggy banks for us featuring YOUR SPECIAL CAR (or boat or plane or occasion or whatever):

There's lots more, too. So please go browsing (and hopefully buying!) by clicking on the link below:
on THE LAST OPEN ROAD website 
or drop by and see us in The Road America Paddock Shop during the SCCA National Championship Runoffs!
Back in July of 2019, my novel THE LAST OPEN ROAD
celebrated its 25th anniversary, and despite making me feel incredibly old, pained and crotchety, it was a pretty neat thing. Which had, hidden inside of it like one of those Russian dolls with another, smaller Russian doll inside of it and then another one until you got down to the guy with the headphones and the wire-tapping apparatus in the tiniest one...
But I digress. The point is that, inside that quarter-century milestone, I sensed an open wound of financial opportunity...wait, make that "a commemorative occasion of great import and symbolic resonance."
Yeah, that sounds better, don't it?

So I hatched this plan (okay, scheme) to have a special, 25th anniversary Commemorative Edition, and to moreover make it different than the regular editions we have produced so far. To begin with, we would only do 100 of them. And each one would be numbered! And they would be bound in fancy Alcantara suede like the interiors on all your top-of-the-line, high-end cars. And there would be a little copper-bronze metal plaque on the front proclaiming it as a 25th anniversary special edition plus, like an art print, YOUR book number (you know: 01/100, 02/100, 74/100, etc.). And inside would be a color section that tells the story of the book from being turned down by damn near every publisher in New York to the second mortgage wife Carol and I took out to publish it ourselves to the undeniable cult-classic it has since become. And it would be thicker, too, because we'd use a type folks old folks could actually read without reaching for a magnifying glass. And then we'd put it in this fancy, knurled-finish aluminum carrying case so you wouldn't spill 90-weight gear oil or cheap red wine on it (see below):

And so I made a prototype (above) and then we kinda sorta maybe started taking orders for them at a hundred bucks each. And we did get a bunch of them sold. Only then I got distracted by the new book and  a bunch of shiny objects and, what do you know, the project kind of went into hibernation. But it's going to be resurrected! Really it is! Just as soon as the writing of the new book is finished. Sure, it'll be more like a 26th/27th year commemorative edition when it finally debuts next late spring/early summer. But being less than three years late is actually better than average for one of my book projects...isn't it?
So here's the deal. This is really just a pre-hustle tip-off, but I wanted to assure the wonderful folks who actually plunked down money for copies that it is indeed in the pipeline, and to let the rest of you know that the thing is rising again like Dracula from his casket (hey, it's almost Halloween) and that there is still time to get in on this ONCE IN A LIFETIME OPPORTUNITY!
Wonder if I can hire on that South African prince or that lawyer guy up in Canada to help me shill this deal?

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: