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More Fast Fun & Onward to Monterey!

A lot has gone on since my last self-serving e-blast, so let's dive right in. I took a flyer on setting my stuff up at the nearby Riverside Cruise Night on the balmy Thursday evening of July 11 (right down the street from St. Mary, where my wonderful/long-suffering wife Carol taught school) and you'd have to say it was both fun and a learning experience. We had great support from hard-working & enthusiastic organizer/head wrench-twister Rick from the nearby Riverside Garage (see below: looks a lot like Finzio's Sinclair, only cleaner!) and there were some really great

cars on hand (including much-needed sportycar support from some "Buddy Palumbo" loyalists...thank you all!). But it was mostly your typical "cruise night" Detroit musclecars, hot rods, drive-in thumpers & rumblers and some nicely restored/preserved American classics. Most of the folks who owned them have never heard of me or my books (imagine that!) and I think many fell into the "those people don't read" category the New York publishers all worried over & warned me about. But they said the same about all you folks, so I'm not going to give up. We sold enough to make the evening worthwhile (just!) and it was a beautiful night and the exceptional venue on the quaint main drag in Riverside attracted a lot of local folks out for an evening stroll. I donated a couple books as door prizes to "prime the pump" and get the word out a bit, and no question we'll try it again for sure in the not-too-distant future.
Come Friday-Saturday I attended (and set up my stand to hawk books, of course) at one of my very favorite events: Millers at Milwaukee. If you haven't been, you really need to go (see pix below) and I even got a few more fun laps in Lou Natenshon's Flathead-powered "junk formula" Indycar. And this time the steering didn't break, which was quite a relief.

Barely got home from Milwaukee and it was time to load up early and head out to the handsome but EXTREMELY hot Barrington Concours at a posh golf club in the bucks-up suburb. Friend and organizer David Cooper of Cooper Technica had arranged an amazing display of fancy & classic French Voison cars from the Mullin Collection in California (if you don't know anything about them or your exposure to French cars is limited to the Renault Dauphine that died in your dad's driveway, look them up!) and it was quite a lovely show in spite of mid-summer heat and humidity as only the midwest can provide. I swear, I've seen cooler days at Road Atlanta in August!

I was pretty worn out by the end of the day (I'm getting a little old for back-to-back-to-back-to-back events on hot summer days with set-up and tear-down thrown in) but there's no rest for the wicked, as the following Thursday it was off to arguably my favorite place on earth, Road America and Elkhart Lake, for the always blowout/extravaganza HAWK vintage festival. As usual, it was a case of Maximum Sensory Overload all weekend long and, after a somewhat unbearable Thursdayand Friday, the weather was incredible all weekend. Or until the big storm that his Sunday afternoon after most folks were already packing up. I knew we were! I hawked a few books out of the VINTAGE MOTORSPORT magazine tent, mouthed off on the PA a little (but kept it squeaky clean!) and did a little judging at the Friday night racecar concours in town. Good fun and Carol and I really enjoyed it, even if it was a little too much like work most of the time. We gotta get up there when there's no damn car race going on, as it was always our go-to family vacation spot while Adam was growing up. We'd walk around the lake almost every morning, but just couldn't make time for it this weekend. In any case, there were a lot of fabulous cars and a lot of great racing, and my full report will be in the upcoming issue of VINTAGE MOTORSPORT magazine, and if you don't have a subscription, you're missing out on one of the few car titles worth reading anymore. And I'm not just saying that because they send me checks.
Well, not entirely, anyway.
Check out their website at or, better yet, buy a subscription. I'm in there every issue. But do it anyway, OK?

Oh, and here's the to-die-for, Tom Kovacs-restored Florida Green-over-Cream Healey 100/4 LM that melted all the judges hearts on Saturdaynight and Colin Comer's ex-Cunningham Team Lister Jag that did the same to all of us old-fart racers on Friday night.

By the way, I was thrilled at how many cars at Road America were wearing our The Last Open Road decals. But then I've been sneaking around the paddock at night sticking them on unsuspecting racecars for years, so maybe it's finally starting to pay off....

Carol and I barely got back to Buddy the dog and bike class before yet another weekend rolled in. But this was an easy one, as my only commitment was a book signing at the informal and utterly amazing Fuelfed "Coffee and Classics" gathering in my old hometown of Winnetka, Il. I'd heard about these "Coffee and Classics" deals and wrongly surmised it was a bunch of car-waxing wankers with "Magnum-issue" Ferraris, late-model Vettes & Bimmers and entirely too many glistening Porsche 911s. Was I in for a surprise! The variety was astounding, as was the laid-back ambiance, and I have to thank  Arthur Frank of Round Table Books for letting me set up my little vegetable stand in front of his place (see below).

I was busy enough explaining myself to potential readers/customers and processing credit cards that  I missed a lot of the cars, but it was a good day for book sales and my old go-karting buddy from high school, Ted Sachs, took some pictures so I at least found out what I was missing. There was a little bit of everything on hand (see below) and you can bet I'll be back. Coffee and Classics in Winnetka runs from 9-11am on the last Sunday of the month, and it's surely worth the mileage. Good places to eat around there afterwards, too.

So now we're up to last weekend, where I served as a coach/instructor (and flogged books, of course) at the absolutely gob-smacking Ferrari Club of America 50th Anniversary gathering at Elkhart Lake and Road America. It was the biggest damn Ferrari meeting anybody had ever seen, and beautifully produced and presented by my home boys from the Central States region.

No doubt I'll be doing a column on it for VM, but it was really something. Sure, we had a few gold-chain Charlies, arrogant rich guys and craggy old farts with lissome and/or voluptuous trophy wives (isn't a breast supposed to give a little when something bumps into it?) but by far most of the folks in attendance were genuine aficionados and truly enthralled & excited by the cars. The drivers I worked with were universally receptive, cooperative & appreciative, and although a few cars got wadded up over the weekend (hey, these are fast cars and Road America is a genuinely serious racetrack) most people drove decently, had a good time and maybe even learned a little something. For me, the real heart-throb cars are the older Ferraris like the 500 Mondial shown below during the "street" concours in town

and the highlight moment for me was riding around Road America at a pretty good clip in "the old family TDF" (pictured above) with a nice guy from St. Louis named Fred. The TDF has been in the same family since it was just an old, used-up, who-wants-it/past-its-sell-by-date racecar back in 1968, and Fred was definitely enjoying it the way Old Man Enzo surely intended. Good fun!!!!!!
We also had an enormous number of "modern Ferraris," and they just don't do that much for me. Oh, they're stylish as a set of seven-inch stiletto heels and I know they're faster and better (or at least more complicated!) than ze olt carz, but some of the boy-racer electronic stuff seems a bit artificial to me and more than one suffered unfortunate brake annoyances. Plus the hushed, near-religious reverence for the marque's mystique can become a wee bit over-the-top now and then. Particularly the way certain latter-day Ferrari owner/enthusiasts confuse genuine icon status (SWB Berlinetta, GTO, 250LM, etc .) with the more-or-less manufactured corona on some specific examples of the current cars (or, as one Ferrari newbie gushed excitedly in my ear: "the factory only built 12 white ones, and only two of them were left-hand drive....")
But I'm probably just jealous. And who would blame me?
In any case, it was a wonderful time in unbelievably perfect weather and I met some great old friends and made some new ones. And the Central States Region did a cracking job of organizing, presenting & producing. Well done!
Had to skip the combined Grand Am/ALMS weekend at Road America in order to take care of yet another computer meltdown at the office (don't ask!) and pack for our trip to California. We'll be staying with our kids in Studio City (always a great time) and I'll be taking a solo side jaunt to Monterey next weekend for the Monterey Historics (I'll be hawking books out of the VINTAGE MOTORSPORT magazine booth in the vendor area across the bridge from the paddock at Laguna Seca) and also doing a second book signing in the evenings at the first-ever World Class Automotive Film and Arts Festival ( at the Golden State Theater in Monterey. Should be a nice alternative to the auction scene, and I'm really looking forward to seeing Steve McQueen's iconic Le Mans on the big screen again on Saturday night! But then it'll be up before dawn come Sunday to take in what my late, great friend and collaborator Art Eastman always believed to be the very best of the Pebble Beach Concours (when the cars are first wheeled out onto the lawn through the early morning fog and mist). As Art always said: "By 10 o'clock it's nothing but assholes & elbows." And by that time I should be on my way back to Laguna Seca for another book signing at lunch time.
See you there?


August 15-18: In California to visit belowed offspring plus side trip to the hallowed Monterey Historics/Pebble Beach. I'll be hawking books in the Vintage Motorsports tent on vendor island at Laguna Seca (except when Bob Bondurant is there...that's one too many schmoozers in a small space) and maybe dropping in on the PA booth now and then to do a little color announcing. Should be a biggie (Corvette's 60th, Porsche 911's 50th, etc.). Evenings I'll be meeting folks, watching car flicks & flogging books during intermission at the first-ever Automotive Film and Arts Festival at the Golden State Theater, 417 Alvarado St. in Monterey.

Sept. 6-8: Back to my roots as the Friends of Triumph descend on Road America to serve as a feature of the VSCDA's excellent Fall Festival. I'll have a book booth next to the 4-Mile Merchant track store (of course!) and I'll be doing a little PA work as well. Also hope to need my helmet at some point during the weekend (car owners, you have been warned...)

Sept. 19-22: Back to Road America for more of the same at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs. This is the last year of The Runoffs at Road America and also the SCCA event's 50th anniversary of settling National Championships once and for all for the often bewildering array of SCCA race classes. Great racing & fantastic entertainment value if you've never been!

Sept. 27-29: Currently planning to do The Gold Cup at VIR. Arguably my very favorite racetrack for the pure pleasure of driving (although the famous and iconic Oak Tree has sadly fallen).

Oct. 24-27: The much-ballyhooed SVRA "National Championships" on the full F1 circuit at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, TX. I'll be handling some PA duties during the races, hopefully driving in an enduro or two and signing books out of the VINTAGE MOTORSPORT magazine booth.

Dec. 7: I'll be giving what I hope will be an entertaining presentation at the famous International Motor Racing Research Center in Watkins Glen thanks to an invite from my good friend Mike Argetsinger. Hope I do a good job!

Dec. 13-15 (tentative): Had such a grand time there last year that I'm hoping to return to the VDCA's gloriously laid-back race/oyster roast & pig pickin' at Roebling Road Raceway near Savannah.

People (and particularly sponsors who've already forked over their $250...imagine that?) keep asking when the new & last book in the Last Open Road series will debut. Well, it's like this: I'm doing way too much running around & traveling & setting up & tearing down at various events (not to mention mooching rides and writing magazine stories & columns) to work on a novel during the racing season. Plus I've noticed that as I get older, everything seems to take longer to finish (except for one thing, although I'm sure I can't remember what it is....). 

But the new book is more than 2/3rds done (honest!) and I'll be written ahead with the magazine and burrowing back into it in November. I'm hoping to have it ready for Amelia Island/Sebring in March but, if that winds up not happening, I plan to launch it where we've launched all the other novels: at Road America in July. Not that I'm superstitious about it or anything. Or, like my dear friend Bob Dekoy always said: "Don't be superstitious, it brings you bad luck!"
By the way, the cover design above was one of several wonderful Art Eastman concepts for the first "Steamroller" book, and we'll be adapting it in his memory for Part II: "Assault on Four O'Clock." 
COOL: Back in Stock soon on the website: full 18 x 32 copies of Roger Warrick's fabulous "The Last Open Bar" prints featuring famous racing drivers (plus one highly dubious bartender) at Siebkens' infamous racing bar near Road America. No rec room, man cave, garage or race trailer is complete without one. Get yours from the website for 35 bucks plus freight.

COOLER YET: You can have your own ugly mug (or your buddy's mug, or you and your bride, or whatever) INSERTED by the original artist into our famous "The Last Open Bar" print for $500 plus UPS. Amaze your friends even if you don't have any!

Catch the latest poop & pictures, the Jay Leno interview, Finzio's Store and the lurid & occasionally embarrassing "ride with Burt" in-car racing videos on the website at: