By the time I realized I was in deep-shit trouble, I was already in mid-air. Flailing away like mad (as you do) and falling fast towards certain...

...But maybe we should go back to the beginning, eh? As you may recall from our last installment, I finally managed to finish the new Steamroller book (or at the very least I fought it to a draw) and arrived at that happy and exhausted moment after a three-month marathon of keeping Count Dracula hours and spending so much time hammering at my computer that my fingerprints actually started to carry the impressions of my more popular keyboard characters (that would include all the popular vowels, of course, a couple of the heavy-use consonants like "T" and "S" and, at least in my case, LOTS of commas and ellipses and my personal, long-shot favorite, the em dash).

For weeks on end I'd get up at 12 midnight or so, work until maybe 5 ayem, fall back into bed and sleep for three or four hours. Then I'd get up and work some more until I couldn't see straight. Then flop into bed again, a few more hours shut-eye and repeat. And repeat. And repeat.

Not really looking for any sympathy here (okay, maybe just a little) but, as wife Carol often reminds me: This is what you WANTED to do, isn't it???"
And of course it is and of course she's right.
Pisses me off, actually...
But let's keep that amongst ourselves, OK?
The trouble with this sort of Bataan Death March/Siege of Stalingrad approach to a literary (or, at the very least, "semi-literate") book project is that you make little mistakes when you are tired and walking around like a damn zombie all the time. And those are the worst, really, because the big ones stick out like Bozo the Clown at a Hasidic funeral. No disrespect intended for either the Hasids or the International Brotherhood of Clowns, BTW.
Hey, I got enough trouble already...

So I send the completed PDF files for the new book off to the printer, comforted by the knowledge that at least a half-dozen pairs of critical eyes and have gone over it with a fine tooth comb (and why would anyone want to comb their teeth in the first place? And, if you are indeed in the market for such an oral-cosmetic device, how would you tell if it's a fine one?). But I digress. All the time, in fact.

The point here is that all these wonderful proofreaders/editing associates (and me...the guy where the buck inevitably stops) have tried their very best to ferret out the flaws an d make this book as perfect, correct and error-free as is humanly possible. The key word here is "humanly," as it shares a bunch of letters with some other popular words such as "Hubris," "Humiliation," "Haunting" and "Humbling." My brother Maurice once told me through a cloud of cannabis smoke that the famous and even revered Persian carpet-makers would weave in an intentional flaw into their each and every carpet, just to show the cosmos that they knew there was no such thing as perfection in anything made by human beings.
I know a lot of my favorite British sports cars were made the same exact way...

In any case, there was a wee difference of opinion emanating from wife Carol and one of my highly valued free-lance proofreaders (meaning, at least in my world, that he works for free and once knew somebody named "Lance") about the tone/content/excess verbiage of a few paragraphs in what will surely be remembered as the shortest book chapter I ever wrote. You'll know it when you read it.
But, like almost all authors, I can be proud, highly protective and even slightly unreasonable when it comes to defending my work and taking umbrage at anyone who questions the content, length or approach of something I've written. In fact, the phrase "F**K YOU! Whatthehelldoyouknowaboutitanyway? Go write your own f**kin' book!" may have leaked past my lips a time or two...
Only then, after much reflection and deep thought (a.k.a. "The Cooling-Off Period") I came to the conclusion that they were right. So, at the very last moment, I re-wrote about two and a half paragraphs of that very short chapter. I actually made them SHORTER, can you believe it???
This is not a dream, by the way. This really DID happen.

Only in my overextended and exhausted state, I actually INTRODUCED a few new typos, missing letters and minor word omissions that hadn't been there in the original version. Not that I noticed it until the files for the Preview Edition were already off to the effing printer.
Oh, well...
Couldn't be helped, I guess.
And we WILL have them properly fixed for the hardback First Editions that we should have in hand towards the end of August, and will certainly be hawking for all we're worth at the Lime Rock Fall Festival, SVRA Watkins Glen, VSCDA/HSR Road America and other selected events and venues as summer wanes, the fall creeps in on little cats' feet (yeah, I know I'm plagiarizing somebody or other there) and winter settles in around us. Good time to read a book, right?

The incredible response to my stirring e-blast announcement that the NEW BOOK was actually finished prompted myriad questions and numerous entreaties regarding when and where the NEW BOOK might be purchased? And I'd like to personally thank all three of you. In any case, we've decided to BUCKLE UNDER, YIELD to the PRESSURE and GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT. So look for a listing and an opportunity to buy (more accurately, "to place an order for") the NEW BOOK on our website sometime next week. You still won't get the damn thing until we actually HAVE them (duh!), but at least your mind will be at peace and we can meanwhile use that money (known as "the float" in the automobile retailing, brokering & re-selling business) to buy whatever the hell we want. Or go on a romantic cruise to the Gulag Archipelago. Or go short on Bitcoin.
The point is this: we'll already HAVE you money. Even if the critics and reviewers pan the damn thing.
But what do they know anyway, right?

So, our Big Fun Bonus for getting the book finally finished was a jaunt to South Bend, IN, to serve as "Notable Automotive Personality" (no, I don't know what that means. either) at the Studebaker Museum's most excellent Concours at Copshaholm this past Saturday. And it was an absolutely MAH-velous time. Not going to go into too much detail here, as I've decided to write a column about it for the magazine (working title: "The Stude Dudes") and the editor doesn't much like it if everybody's already read about it here. But I do recommend the event highly!
Although it was, once again, a bit of a gauntlet run. We drove down from Chicago on Friday afternoon the very day the PREVIEW EDITION files went off to the printer (unseen errors and all), and we were still late arriving at the judges' and participants' cocktail party at the museum. Nice affair, even if we were kinda bushed. Still that way when the alarm went off at five-freaking-thirty ayem (and remember, that's FOUR-freaking-thirty ayem in the town we'd just come from). But we got up, got cleaned up and made it over to the Judges' breakfast at the museum, and then set up our, umm, "The Last Open Road book pushcart" as we have so many times before. To be honest, Carol did most of the setting up while I joined the rest of our judging team to run our eyeballs over and occasionally raise our collective eyebrows/cluck our collective tongues at the fine details and pur sang pedigree some truly wonderful machinery.
Best of all, we were judging according to "French Rules" which, if you strip all the accent graves and oumlats away, simply poses the defining question: "How far out of your socks does that particular car blow you?" And, as a gentleman who spent a great portion of his youth being blown out of his socks by assorted cool and super-cool cars, I felt I had the right sort of background and experience for the job.

We also sold books and audiobooks, and did REALLY well for what amounted to just a half-day's actual selling time. A lot of that was thanks to Museum Head Guy (and ultimate "Stude Dude") Andy Beckman and his staff (they were wonderful!) and most especially to the PA announcer, who plugged me and my books both endlessly and relentlessly. So I gave him a book and signed it: "I want YOU to speak at my funeral!"

The Studebaker Museum deal is a far smaller and less intimidating/presumptuous/pretentious show than the Big Ones at Amelia and Pebble Beach, but it's friendly and eclectic and accessible and there's a wonderful old mansion right around the corner that you can tour if you like. And marvel at what people who could afford damn near anything did with their money and aesthetic tastes.
Carol loved it.
But then we had to pack up in a hurry and hit the road so we could make the nearly four-hour drive (including around Chicago in sometimes heavy traffic and through some ugly patches of rain) to Lake Geneva, WI., where a family Surprise Party was brewing for our sister Joanne's 60th birthday. It was a really fun time, even though Carol and I were both dead tired. We had dinner at three tables pushed together in a casual/informal but borderline pricey restaurant with excellent food and a view of the lake, and it was on my way to get the car that it happened...
See, I was walking briskly through the bar area, and I was taking a wee gander at the three-piece band (playing mostly 60s, 70s and 80s pop hits) doing their best to be heard against and/or above the roaring din, chatter, clatter and laughter of the wall-to-wall crowd. And it was while I was checking them out (the band I mean...I swear to you, it was NOT a case of "Cleavage Distraction," even though I am known to be susceptible to such things) that I arrived at the roughly 8" to 10" dropoff of a step-up to the bar and dining room areas that I guess I never noticed on the way in.
Now any physicist worth his salt will tell you that simple atmosphere will not support the weight of a human body. Or any part thereof. So my right foot came down on nothing solid, and next thing you know (see opening paragraph) I am pinwheeling through the air, arms and legs flailing (as you do), before coming down HARD! in off-kilter, tricycle-gear fashion! My right knee hit first, and impacted the ceramic tile flooring (it might as well have been bridge iron or concrete) with an excruciating painfulness, suddenness and ruthlessness I don't recall ever experiencing before.
I saw stars.
Hell, I saw entire constellations.
Galaxies, even.
I'm pretty sure I even glimpsed what lies way, way out there beyond the realm of the known universe. But I can't tell you anything about it. Sworn to secrecy. And you'll find out soon enough for yourself. But I can tell you that it's better than effing Epcot...
But back to the pain. And the humiliation. I mean, there you are, lying essentially face-down on the floor, staring into the grout lines, and people peering down from the railing above with concerned looks on their faces are asking if you're OK? And of course you want to swagger it off. "Nah. I'm fine, see. Just fine." And that's when you try to get up again. Only as soon as you put a little weight on that right leg, it refuses to cooperate. The pain is searing--like being tased under your blessed kneecap--and it's Crumple City all over again...
By grappling onto things with my hands, I finally manage to pull myself upright (remember those old Chevy Chase falling-over-folding-chairs bit? You know: "Nothing to see here, folks..." and could at least attempt to regain the dignity I probably never had in the first place.
I had to hang onto the railing in order to make it up the stairs to the valet stand, wincing with every step...
I was in a lot of pain at first, but it got better incrementally and, thanks in part to some pretty good cheap (okay, "inexpensive") wine and near-overdoses of Advil, I was able to hobble and grimace my way through the rest of the party (which lasted through this very morning, BTW) and then we drove home. I went to have an MRI done this afternoon, and I THINK (hope? pray?) that I'll be able to handle things all right through the Preview Edition book launch this coming weekend at Road America. Fingers crossed.

In the meantime (as mentioned above) we will be putting the new book up for sale on the website sometime next week. And, just like our in-person sales, you'll be able to pick from a trio of exciting and value-rich options:

Option #1: You may PURCHASE one of the PREVIEW EDITION softback copies for 35 bucks plus $6.50 freight (they actually cost me more to print than the damn hardback books), which I will be happy to sign and personalize if that's what you really want.

Option #2: You may ORDER a signed/personalized copy of the First Edition hardback for 40 bucks (plus $6.50 freight, unless you live in a furrin' country like the U.K. or Bosnia or New Zealand or Uzbekistan, in which case we gotta pro-rate the applicable freight for you). Books will begin shipping by, say, the week before Labor Day and will continue until either all the orders are filled or my effing signing hand falls off. Whichever comes first.

Option #3 (we call this one "THE BIG PLUNGER!") whereby, for a mere 60 dollars Ca$h American, you get BOTH options 1 and 2 listed above. So you can get a signed first edition a month and a half or thereabouts down the road and also get a Preview Edition to start reading immediately! Such a 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: