Well, it's Pumpkin Time again, and I still haven't gotten around to filling y'alls in on our big summer/fall Road Trip/Book Tour Odyssey. So I will. Or at least I'll get started on it anyway. After all, the cooler weather is beginning to set in, my beloved Chicago Bears are well on their way to another spectacularly lackluster season and I just don't have enough juice (or should that be "joules?") in the tank right now to get rolling on the next (and, I promise, last) Steamroller book. Need a couple weeks of kick-back time first. But I'll get to it. I promise. And before the new year rolls all the way in.

But first let's take a wee pause to enjoy and appreciate one of my very favorite holidays: HALLOWEEN! Sure, it may be the outgrowth of some ritualistic and barbaric pagan holiday where they burned non-believers at the stake, slaughtered innocents and drank the blood of people who voted for or supported the other guy, but it's still a wonderful and even magical time of year.
Last weekend we were up at Road America for the Champcar (useta be "Chumpcar") race weekend, where I was oh-so-appropriately supposed to be driving with Fritz Wilke's multi-car "Flying Ghost" team. Unfortunately the team encountered some car problems--not unusual in 16 hours of racing!--and I chose to take a rain check on my seat time so the other drivers could get their stints in. I'll be back with them at some other race. And I did get a few practice laps in and was pleased to discover that, although my knees are still a bit wonky and I'm rusty as hell and growing craggy and decrepit with age, I can still do this. Sort of. Watch this space for further developments...
But we did sell & sign some books, and the highlight of the weekend, for sure, was RA's "TRACK or TREAT" deal on Saturday late afternoon/early evening for the local kiddies (and their parents, of course). It was a huge success, as an enormous swarm of costumed children and happy parents descended on the paddock, pit lane and the RA Paddock Shop to beg candy out of racecar trunks and everywhere else thjey might be found. A lot of the participants were young families from the surrounding counties--many of whom had never been to the track before--and they enjoyed the heck out of it. Best part, aside from the costumes and my "Spooky Halloween Box" (more on that in the next blog) was that almost every single kid was polite and appreciative and said "thank you" (OK, so sometimes their Mom or Dad had to prod them to say "thank you"), but the bottom line is that they were all well-behaved and seemed to be having one hell of a swell time. And that's a great thing since, if you look around especially vintage racing paddocks, you see more in the way of liver spots than lively young folks. Just sayin'...
If you'd like to view some adorable and semi-adorable pics from the event, check out the gallery of shots by crack RA track shooter Sara Cote here:
The lead picture features RA track president Mike Kertscher as The Tiger King, Paddock Shop star Lisa as Dorothy from THE WIZARD OF OZ (note tiny Toto in basket), Paddock Shop Manager/SWMBO (She Who Must Be Obeyed) Julie as a fetching Wild-West Cowgirl, and Carol & me as Peanut Butter and Jelly. As in "we go together like."
Get it?

Halloween is also PUMPKIN TIME, and I've done my best over the years to have fun with it. Samples below:

My "Pasha Pumpkin" of several years ago...

And here's "Laurel & Hardy!"

Some sort of grumpy undersea creature?

This year's Skeleton Wal-Mart Greeter!
(or maybe it's one of the retiree Security Guards from Daytona?)
May have to set a pumpkin character next to him (or her?). I feel the Urge to Carve coming on...

And now for something COMPLETELY different. Longtime friend, racing pal and fellow Alfisti Sam Smith sent me a video that just knocked Carol & my socks off. Not going to tell you what it is, but click on the WTF/from-left-field image below and enjoy:

And now, it's time to set the Wayback machine for, oh, let's say the third week of August...

As you may recall, I had done my level best to cripple myself whilst walking out of a crowded & noisy bar/restaurant in Lake Geneva, WI, on the late evening of July 10th (and that's after driving straight-through from South Bend, IN, where Carol & I had been signing books and serving as Honored Gusts at the Studebaker Museum's excellent Concours at Copshalholm all day long) on account of I got distracted by the small, almost inaudible band playing one of my favorite Van Morrison songs, and it had nothing whatsoever to do with the girl with the silky black hair and impossible-to-ignore cleavage sitting near them at the bar.
But the point is that my attention was momentarily diverted, and that's when/why I went falling and flailing over the steep step dropoff I had no idea was there and landed HARD, JACKHAMMER IMPACT on my knees--right, then left in quick succession!--on a brutally solid marble tile floor, doing myself no good whatsoever.

The pain and the timing could not have been worse. After all, Carol & I were about to embark on our Big Summer/Fall Book Tour Extravaganza with the brand new Steamroller III book that we didn't even have yet. As you may recall, we were backed into printing softback, emergency "PREVIEW" and then "PREVIEW II" editions (at great expense, I might add) so we'd have something to sell at our already planned, and mostly already paid for, I might also add, Book Tour events.

Thankfully, the new book proved to be a hit, with several early readers plus two reviews I know about and even a couple of my own blessed proofreaders calling it my best book ever. And that's quite a relief, since most folks tell me "I just LOVED your first book. It's my absolute favorite!" which is lovely as praise but, critically speaking, doesn't make the author (that would be me) feel like he's making much in the way of artistic progress.

In any case, I had no idea how badly I'd messed myself up, and pretty much hobbled my way through our big, not-quite-debut "Preview Edition" weekend at Road America, signing lots of books alongside now friend/longtime hero David Hobbs, judging at the concours, covering the event for Vintage Motorsport Magazine etc. etc. and wondering why my knees weren't getting any better. In fact, they were getting worse. The right one, in particular...
So then it was in to see the ortho sawbones the following week, where I was summarily clamped into a hip-to-ankle leg brace that I hated with a seething, fiery passion and went about my ensuing Book Tour business hobbling around like the Dennis Weaver "Chester" character in GUNSMOKE.

As a result, had to sadly take a pass on The Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix the following weekend (a favorite event that usually conflicts with the big July weekend at Road America), not to mention IMSA at Road America the weekend after, Monterey/Pebble Beach out west and the Automotive Heritage Foundation awards at M1 in Detroit. And don't even bother to ask long-suffering wife Carol what I was like during that period, as she has assured me repeatedly and with great conviction that I was thoroughly awful.

But things improved--slowly and with difficulty--we took a try at the garage Open House at friend John Saccameno's excellent Sport and Specialty Cars shop in Durand, IL., on August 21st and setting up our book pushcart (pop-up, actually) at The Geneva Concours in Geneva, IL the following day. I was still somewhat hobbled (!!!) but we made it through all right and even sold some books. John's shop is eclectic, organized and squeaky clean, and I particularly loved the wonderful and more-than-slightly sinister Jaguar Mk IV (license plate "CRUELA") with impressive fold-down tool kit in the trunk. Like you would ever need a tool kit if you owned a Jaguar...

And here's John himself with a just-painted Alfa Giulietta that is sure to pluck at the heartstrings (OK, and purse strings, too) of some happy Alfa owner & enthusiast!

Afraid I have to run now, but will continue "Big Two-Hearted Road Trip" over the next few days. COMING ATTRACTIONS include meeting and getting to know a disgustingly handsome and artistically talented, REAL-LIFE Ferrari Formula One racer & Le Mans winner at Lime Rock and staying in a gen-yew-wine opulent, elegant & historic but initially slightly creepy old mansion that reminded both of us of this famous old, Halloween-appropriate edifice:

This is where I usually plug the new STEAMROLLER III book and the unbelievably fabulous & entertaining (not to mention award-winning) audiobook version of THE LAST OPEN ROAD, but instead I'm just gonna recommend that you pass the following link on to anybody and everybody (friends, family members, neighbors, distant relatives, business associates, people you bought drinks for when you'd been over-served yourself, etc.) whom you haven't pissed off so much that they may STILL want to buy you a Christmas present. Tell them to do their shopping for you RIGHT HERE:

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: