What a lovely (but lonely) fall this has been. Aimless in its way. And I know it's been awhile. And I'd like to tell you that I've been spending every waking moment slaving away on the new book. I'd also like to tell you that I've grown four inches taller, lost 30 pounds and have somehow developed an entirely new head of hair. Silky and wavy this time. And--what the hell--let's make it blonde. Or maybe redhead? But I think you get freckles with that last one, and they might clash with the liver spots as I get older...

Speaking of getting older, I have a birthday coming up in a few days. And it's one of The Big Ones (we don't need to say which one, do we?) and that gets you to thinking about health and mortality and joints going wonky and all those other terrifying subjects that folks like Jean-Paul Sartre and Woody Allen worry over until it gives them ulcers. Or at the very least indigestion bad enough that they THINK it's ulcers. Not to mention some excellent car-guy friends have recently passed on unexpectedly (one from a stroke, one from Covid) and that's always unsettling. Plus the ongoing pandemic that has everybody on the whole frickin' planet on edge (or over it) and the current political post-season that just refuses to fade away and the accompanying and relentless television shit-show (it's pretty bad when you can't tell the Real News from the Saturday Night Live comedy skits any more). But, bad as it may be, it's as hard to look away from as a horrendous car-train-bus-motorcycle wreck where everything crashes and crushes and smashes and collides in hideous slow motion and then it all catches fire from the spilled fuel and you can hear the poor, broken, bleeding people trapped inside screaming and pleading as they're slowly, tortuously burned to death...
Yeah, I've been in a little bit of a dark mood of late.
But who hasen't?

But, hey, it's Thanksgiving, right? Time to give thanks for all the good things we've been blessed with in this life. Starting with our loved ones (long-suffering Carol is way up at the top of my personal list), the families we may not always agree with but love anyway (at least we won't be arguing election politics over the gravy boat come Thursday afternoon), the good fortune to have ample food and comfortable shelter, the joys and blessings of work, the opportunity for exercise, activity and occasional charity and the overriding sense, in spite of everything and anything, that we are damn lucky to be here.

I have gotten some work done on the new book--honest I have!--but not near as much as I should. Part was due to other writing projects (magazine column, etc.) that are now finished, part due to fulfilling book/apparel/audiobook orders that I hope keep pouring in during this current holiday season (hint-hint-hint...see shopping link for the Last Open Road web store way at the bottom) along with lots of long walks through the woods with Carol (see pix above & below) and 12-to-30-mile bike rides along my favorite path alongside a river. OK, so maybe it's just a creek.

Have to say that the fall colors this year were absolutely spectacular here in the Midwest. Best I can remember, in fact. And they hung around for a long, long time, so's you could savor them. Started way back in late September, and they were really starting to come in when we went up to Road America to hawk books/audiobooks at The RA Paddock Shop (quite a bit more than a mere "shop," actually) during the SCCA National Championship Runoffs October 9-11. See pic below.

Nice, eh? And while I was a little put off by the rather loose "qualification criteria" for this year's National Championships (useta be you hadda fight and scrap all season long and finish in the top 3 in your class in your division to score an invite...could you please cue up a phlegm-y "HARRUMPH" followed by the requisite "Why back in MY day...") but it was a damn miracle, given the year-long Covid Plague, that they managed to pull it off at all. Kudos to all involved. Even the weather cooperated (something of a miracle for a Wisconsin October!) and there was some damn fine racing, too. My personal favorite (among a veritable host of contenders) was the Formula Ford contest. Always a scrappy affair, this particular edition featured some of the best & closest racing ever witnessed--period--as five cars battled it out nose-to-tail and wheel-to-wheel (sometimes even wheel-within-wheel!) for the duration. My Chicago-area car friend and already 3-time SCCA Formula Ford National Champ Tim Kautz mixed it up mightily with four other top drivers up at the sharp end of the queue, and you can have a look for yourself right here if you like:

It's worth the watch, believe me!
Friend/hero David Hobbs joined us to hawk & sign a few copies of his excellent & entertaining autobiography, that was pretty amazing given that he'd had a complete knee replacement just a few weeks before and was, at best, a bit (dare I say it?) "hobbled." There was also the dreaded 'Rona to worry over (David and I are both uncomfortably close to our "sell-by" dates and therefore in an unusually risk-rich demographic) but I have to say that the overwhelming majority of folks seem to have caught on and were wearing masks and observing proper social distancing. But, as they say in the Marines, "there are always that 2% that never get the word," and some folks see it as a sort of badge of idiotic honor to NOT wear a mask. Fact is, they're button-popping PROUD of it! This one banty-rooster type waltzed up sans mask (required by law in Wisconsin at that time, BTW) and when I asked him about it, he puffed his chest out another full inch and proclaimed for all to hear: "It's a CHOICE!" At which pint I observed out loud that it was both an ignorant and selfish choice, and also that our conversation was officially over and would he please leave the premises. In response, he strutted self-importantly away like he was the blessed drum major of a Fourth of July parade!
Does it really take all kinds to make a world???
David did just fine on Friday and Saturday, but came up a bit uncomfortable come Sunday when his new knee decided it had had about enough of the limelight and became quite painful. And that's an understatement. I dove him over to wife Mags' art studio, and she whisked him off to Milwaukee, where his doctor had kindly agreed to meet them at the hospital (even though it was Sunday and he was probably off playing golf some posh, green place, as doctors are wont to do...G'bless him). They had a heck of a time getting David out of the car and into the hospital--he was well and truly seeing stars by that point!--but once in the exam room, the good doctor took a looksee, grabbed a nearby hypo and removed something like 30 or 40 ccs of fluid from his knee. SHAZAM! In David's own words: "After that, I hopped right off the exam table, walked out of the hospital and drove home!"
So that was a happy ending indeed.
We sold a lot of books, too!

Halloween has been about my favorite holiday ever since I fist sampled the fun and mischief it encourages, and this was a tough year for Halloween what with the kids that did venture forth staying Social Distancing away and having to send the candy through a real Rube Goldberg version of a Willy Wonka candy chute (at left in bottom pic). Bummer. Even my pumpkin looked sad this year. I saw this strange-looking, geriatric disease-colored pumpkin out in front of our local Whole Foods store, and when it was still there three days later, I could hear it calling out to me and begging me to turn it into the forlorn, bottom-feeding sea creature I knew it longed to be:

The leaves stayed brilliant for a long, long time, but then a big storm blew through and, just like that, they were gone and you knew that winter was well and truly on the way. It's been a long, strange summer, and I haven't been inside a blessed racing car for what seems like forever. But friend/ace photographer Bill Nesius sent over the shot below of me wheeling Mike Silverman's Echidna a year ago last July, and that did perk me up a bit. Good fun. That was the day before the brake pedal went clear to the floor--on the effing PACE LAP!--in Mike's very nice MGA. But that's another story, isn't it? Speaking of racing, there have been a couple pretty good F1 races on the tube of late. Although, to be fair, the IndyCar races are, I think, a better show. Sure, F1 is "The Pinnacle" blah, blah, blah. But it's the blessed CARS that win in F1, not so much the drivers. By contrast, the essentially "spec cars" in the American series mean that, on any given weekend, you may have eight or ten drivers in with a shot. Better yet, they're not the SAME bloody 8 or 10 each time. Sure, certain drivers and teams do rise to the top with stunning regularity, but it's a far more level playing field. Not to mention that the inclusion of road courses, short ovals, big ovals and street circuits demand a lot of creative adaptability.

And now, let those angry cards, letters and emails descend. I don't much care...


As comic Steve Martin would surely say: "Whut the hail is thet thing?"

And now...back to the new book. Really...
Oh, and PUH-LEEZ buy lots of Holiday stuff from Finzio's Store on the website at 

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: