I'm in a pretty foul mood right now. So don't mess with me, see. I'm warning you: Stand back! Make room! GRRRRRR...
As you regular blog-readers have likely already guessed, this all stems from the less-than-majestic swan dive I took off an unseen/un-sensed step whilst exiting the most excellent Pier 290 restaurant/bar in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, where we were celebrating our sister Joanne's surprise 60th birthday party. Now in the interests of full disclosure, I must admit this was not the first or only time I have flailed, fallen or tumbled whilst exiting an establishment that sells alcoholic beverages (in fact, I was once refused ENTRY into the infamous Boot Hill Saloon in Daytona Beach because the massive doorman-cum-bouncer deemed me plenty drunk enough already and probably a poor risk to remain upright) but all of that was many years ago, and while I have not totally reformed, I have not been found sleeping in doorways or crumpled around the base of any street lights for quite some time.
Still, it was one hell of a tumble. See illustration below:

The above photo approximates my right knee's approach angle to the very hard ceramic tile floor and, as I explained last time, the impact was both painful and memorable. OUCH!
But, by gum, we had a Preview Edition launch for the new book coming up the very next weekend at the big W.I.C. vintage race at Road America, and so I gritted my teeth (to be honest, it didn't feel too bad unless I came down on it the wrong way) and hobbled my way through like the determined, hard-headed idiot that I am.
And we did GREAT, BTW!!! It was a record-setting weekend for us, with many folks coughing up 60 bucks Ca$h American for the two-fer BIG PLUNGER OPTION, which included a take-it-with-you copy of the softback PREVIEW EDITION of the new book PLUS a mailed First Edition hardback copy (signed and suitable defaced, of course) when they become available in late-August/early September. Plus we sold a LOT of copies to folks who'd heard about it or had seen our decals on all the racecars and spectator cars all over the place.
Better yet, I got to sign books in company with two rather more famous/accomplished racer/authors, David Hobbs and Brian Redman. And I kept remembering going to my very first race at Road America, lo, these many decades ago, and thinking, with my fingers curled desperately through the gaps in the chainlink fencing: "Someday, I wanna be there on the INSIDE..."
And now here I am.
Sort of.
Lowlight of the weekend was trying to get around and carry book boxes and such on tiny, gingerly, tentative and occasionally painful little steps, and also having to skip the promised drive in Paul Joyaux's lovely little Crossle C5 sports/racer. I mean, it's OK if your throttle foot goes all wonky on you, but when the time comes to step HARD on the brakes...well, you really need your feet under you, n'est ce pas?.
But I was able to do Beaucoups of Book Biz with the aforementioned messers Hobbs & Redman (good fun, that, and good $$$$$, too!), and also served as a judge in the Friday night racecar concours in town, which is always a great time But I definitely DO NOT judge in the street-car concours on Saturday night. And let me tell you why:

Now “Concours d’Elegance” is a fine French phrase that means prettying up a car so damn much you don’t dare use it anymore…except maybe to preen it and polish it. Which is why I tend to steer clear of judging opportunities at “serious” concours. I’m just not anal enough, you know? This all came into sharp focus many years back when I was judging at the wonderful, in-town concours in Elkhart Lake that are always a mainstay of the big July vintage event at Road America. The racecars come stomping, gurgling and snorting into town on Friday night—what a spectacle!—and then it’s “street machines” on Saturday evening. I used to judge both nights, but then one year I got assigned to the Porsche 356s on Saturday and realized I just wasn’t up to the task. Now the racecar types tend to be pretty easygoing, love the opportunity, outrageousness and ambience of the whole deal and don’t tend to take the awards part very seriously. I mean, how do you compare a freaking Sunbeam Tiger to a Surtees F5000 anyway? Everybody has a good time.
But then here I am, the very next night, with three absolutely gorgeous and perfect Porsche 356s in front of me and no clue as to which might be better. Fortunately, I know some people with serious gravitas in the Porsche 356 universe (my good friends and occasional on-track rivals Mark Eskuche and Vic Skirmants) and I happened to see them wandering around the show and took them aside, one at a time, to help me select The Best Damn Bathtub Porsche in Elkhart Lake that particular evening. I remember Vic gave the three ’Tubs a cursory once-over—you couldn’t find a damn flaw—shrugged his shoulders and advised: “Flip a coin.”
In the end, it turned out that two of the cars had been “professionally restored” (one for a longtime car friend of mine, by the way), while the third owner had done the bulk of the work, save the spray job, with his own two hands. So we gave first-place plaque to him and I’m happy to say that the other two owners understood the decision and agreed with it.
So far so good.
Only the next year I was assigned to Porsches again (don’t they know I’m Alfa Queer and a British Car guy?) and this time it was 911s. Now I know and am friendly with a lot of wonderful folks who own, drive and race 911s—right up through “Quick Vic” Elford, in fact—but we all know the old porcupine joke, don’t we (Q: “What’s the difference between Porsches and porcupines?” A: “On porcupines, the pricks are on the outside!”), and, sad to say, inside every stereotype is a gleaming little kernel of truth.
So this guy shows up at the Saturday-night concours with a rare and absolutely gorgeous, even glistening black-on-black 911 RS America (if God wanted to own a 911, this could very well be the car) and, as anybody can tell you, black is the toughest color in the cosmos to make look perfect. It shows every flaw. But the guy is kind of a…well, see the “porcupine” reference above, and the first thing he does is drag out all the trophies his car has won—including first place at The Porsche Parade, for gosh sakes—and lines them up alongside his car. They reflect in the fender and door panel like a mirror. Only the guy is so damn smug (“smug” being where “justly proud” turns into something far less attractive) and it’s obvious that this poor “sports car” has never seen a racetrack or even a back road at speed in its entire life, and is lucky just to trundle up the driveway from its enclosed trailer to its heated, humidity-controlled garage.
There are less than 10,000 miles on the odometer.
Meanwhile, right next door to this revoltingly perfect RS America is a very nice early 911S. It’s white with the houndstooth-insert seat panels and, if you look closely, you can see a little stone chip here and there that have been touched up with what looks like refrigerator enamel (pretty decent match, though) and the seats and steering wheel show a little wear and tear. But then, it’s got over 130,000 miles on the odometer…and I bet those were fun miles, too...
So in the end, I persuaded the other judges to give first place to the well-used-and-enjoyed white 911—it really was a nice car—but mostly just to stick it to the smug, arrogant, peering-down-his-damn-nose-at-everybody jerkoff with the perfect black RS America.
And that’s the last time I ever judged a “serious” concours. And by “serious,” I mean one where some of the competitors take it way, way too seriously. I still do the racecars show on Friday night (and love it!) but I felt it was time to let someone else have a shot on Saturday.
Some folks enjoy (and are good at) that sort of thing.

In any case, the bad news came today. I'd gotten an MRI last week, just before we left for Road America, but it might as well have been Venusian cloud formations to my untrained eye. So today we saw the Orthopedic guy. And he explained that I'd managed to tear up a little more than half of the three layers of connective tissue (or, as we in the turkey-, pork- and beef-eating industry call it, "The Gristle") that keep my knee from going in strange, perilous and generally un-supportive directions. There's a good chance I can avoid surgery (oh, pleasepleaseplease) but I am now wearing a most cumbersome, irritating and inconvenient leg brace that extends from my right hip all the way to my right ankle, and will continue to do so for something like 4 to 6 weeks.
Hence my ill humor. You remember: GRRRRRR!
Bottom line is that we had to most regretfully bag our trip to the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix this coming weekend, and we'll have to see how things are progressing beyond that. But, barring unexpected complications, we will FOR SURE be at Lime Rock, Watkins Glen and Road America the first three weekends in September, and I'm hopeful we can do IMSA at Road America August 6th through 8th.
In the meantime, I'm hobbling around like Dennis Weaver as Chester in the old "Gunsmoke" TV series. And if you're too young to remember that, you're probably barking up the wrong blog!

We'll be putting the new book up on the website next week (maybe even over the weekend, since I'm not going anywhere...grumble, grumble, grumble) and it will be available in THREE distinct and delicious flavors:

The DEAL on the NEW BOOK!
You may choose from the following highly attractive options:
You may purchase a softback, PREVIEW EDITION copy of the new book as soon as it's up on the site (typos and all) for $35 Ca$h American plus $6.50 Shipping & Handling.
You may ORDER a hardback copy of the upcoming FIRST EDITION (not due in bookstores until October 31st) and suitably signed and personalized to your liking for $40.oo plus $6.50 S&H. Pre-ordered copies of these First Editions will begin shipping end August/1st week September on a first come/first served basis.
You can combine OPTION #1 and OPTION#2 for the low, low price of $60 plus just ONE $6.50 S&H charge (still Ca$h American, mind you), start reading almost immediately, and the publisher-of-record (who also happens to be the writer) will happily, resourcefully and thankfully eat the blessed freight/handling costs on the second book! 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: