Valentines Day is a certified Big Freaking Deal around our house. And not just because of the ongoing grammatical consternation I face, as a more-or-less bona fide writer of fact and fiction in the English language, over whether there should be an apostraphe in "Valentines" and, if so, does it go between the "e" and the "s" or after the "s"?
Such things trouble me.
As do loudly proclaimed items I see on the TV news every day that I would probably be better off not knowing about. Especially considering that, no matter what side of the socio-political spectrum I may call home, there isn't Jack Shit I can do about any of it except for maybe sputtering, helpless rages of anger, indignation, outrage and/or disbelief.
And then I remember--again, as a writer--that editorial content has only two essential functions:
1) To keep people watching, listening and/or reading. And if it takes the wholesale and unapologetic genetrating of anger, indignation, outrage and disbelief...well, that's just fine. Since the REAL reason for editorial content is:
2) To keep the ads from crashing headlong into one another and to keep people from turning off their TV sets, radios and headphones or wadding up that newspaper or magazine and throwing it in the trash. I mean, who's gonna watch a show or read a printed page that's nothing but freaking ads?

But back to Valentines Day (add punctuation as you like), which here at Casa Levy, is not just a day to exchange smarmy cards, sweet sentiments and things we probably shouldn't eat anymore, but also wife Carol's birthday (none of yer business which one) as well as our 48th wedding anniversary. How this particular union has lasted close to a half-century is a bit of a mystery (the opening line on our wedding day was six months or less), but I put it down to the fact that opposites attract, that you need both the Yin and the Yang to keep the ball rolling--even on a downhill slope--and, most especially, that Carol is a wonderful sport, funny as Charlie Chaplin and Carol Burnett all rolled up together, great with people (even consummate assholes when necessary), good fun to be around and has backed me up even when I doubted my own self. We also happen to love each other...but then just EVERYBODY starts out believing that, don't they?

But of course there's more to Valentines Day than love, feelings of sentiment and sweet memories. Just ask the folks at Hallmark Cards, your corner florist and the Fannie Mae candy people. Yes, just like Christmastime, Valentines Day is a puffy, red-satin heart surrounded by roses, lace and baby's breath that can all be bought at retail (or maybe you "know a guy?") and presented to your precious loved one as evidence of your undying devotion. And so much the better if your gift shows that you UNDERSTAND your Significant Other and appreciate all the odd and idiotic things they may find fascinating, compelling, attractive, intrigueing or amusing.

So, without further ado, here are a few Last Minute Valentines Day gift-idea specials that are ONLY available via direct purchase since I just thought of them and haven't got the effing time to put them up on the website just so's I can take them down in eight more days. So if you want "in" on any of this VERY special stuff, you gotta either email us at or call the Thinkfast Office Number at 708-383-7203 and we will be happy to make the proper arrangements and take custody of some of your money.
More than happy, in fact!

Item One is a few more of the cuddly-warm and lovely Chocolate Embarcaderos (size XL only) that we're still stuck with on account of you didn't buy enough last time. I mean, that we "still have in stock." We sold a TON of Embarcaderos with the last special, but most people seemed to prefer the olive green (pretty much sold out) or the black (which wasn't on special) so we'll try this one more time. Chocolate. XL Only. Period. $40 plus $5 for shipping. Call or email if you want one. Any other color or size, you gotta order off the website like ordinary folks. And the freight is to US Destinations only, see. For those of you living elsewhere, we'll have to quote you a figure. And, sometimes, even that won't work. We have discovered that USPS International Mail Service is not only horrendously expensive (!!!), but also that it is currently unavailable, thanks to the Covid Monster, to certain overseas destinations. Including, at present, Australia, Hong Kong and, well, if you like, you can check it out for yourself right HERE (as of 2/4).

(trumpet fanfare, please!)
Thanks to Julie who runs the fabulous (I'm not kidding) Road America Paddock Shop and who moreover has exquisite taste in damn near everything, we have a new and exciting "The Last Open Road" track, exercise, lounging or knocking around T-shirt that she herself designed. Available in a stunning array of colors from gunpowder gray to gunpowder gray, it features our famous logo in BIG letters on the front:

And, on the B-Side, the evocative cover photo from the original, 1994 First Edition of THE LAST OPEN ROAD.
Good story behind that photo, too:
I was doing an interview with the late, great, gifted, gracious and gregarious Brooks Stevens at his then-museum north of Milwaukee, and it was one of those experiences that stick with you (as I believe Warren Weith once phrased it) "like a burr in an old woolen sock." Brooks was confined to a wheelchair by then, but even so he seemed as graceful and elegant as Fred Astaire gliding across a dance floor. And what stories he had to tell! But always funny, self-effacing and with a wide-eyed sense of innocence, amazement and fascination for all the things he'd instigated, invented, designed, been a part of or party to. Suffice to say he came from a well-to-do Milwaukee family, grew up around fabulous cars--Packards and Lincolns and such--because his father was a top man with an electrical firm that produced some of the bits and hardware that went into those cars. "My dad was always parking something interesting in our driveway at home.
Brooks' parents wanted him to be an architect, but all Brooks wanted to do was doodle cars. And, in the end, he got them to bankroll a little office so he could try his hand at becoming an Industrial Designer. Whatever that was. And the interesting thing is that he was very possibly the first Industrial Designer working out among the flatlands and smokestacks of the great American Industrial Midwest (where things were actually manufactured) rather than amongst the grand avenues, grander attitudes and awe-inspiring skyscrapers of New York. Brooks always called the famous New York designers "those handkerchief-up-the-sleeve guys."
Over an amazing career, Brooks designed everything from steam irons to outboard motors to The Milwaukee Road railroad. I mean from the futuristic, bullet-nose styling of the steam engine in front to the famous, glass-enclosed "observation car" in back to the brass buttons on the conductors' uniforms and the logo on the cocktail napkins they put under your drink in the club car!
But his first love was always automobiles--especially sporty automobiles--and he designed some great ones. Including the handsome, ahead-of-its-time Kaiser Manhattan and the sharp and elegant Studebaker Grand Turismo. Along with the original Excalibur, which he envisioned as an all-American answer to the MG T-series and Jag XK120 sports cars starting to filter in from Europe in the early 1950s. Built on Henry J underpinnings--he told me Henry Kaiser finally gave him three chassis just to shut him up about "an American sports car"--and you can read all about them (and him) in the "Sebring 1953" chapters of MONTEZUMA'S FERRARI, where the Excalibur pits are right next to the pit box of my fictional characters Buddy Palumbo, Sammy Speed and, of course, Big Ed Baumstein.

I got a chance to drive one of the original Excaliburs many years ago at Grattan Raceway thanks to Brooks' son Tony, and it was certainly an exciting looking thing--like a Sabre jet, really--and it worked at least as well as the generation of cobbled-together-from-sedan-bits "Fine British Sports Cars" arriving on our shores at the time.
Did I mention that Brooks had polio? But he soldiered on right through it and followed both his creative muse and his passion, even though it precluded racing himself.
Inspiring guy, and surely worth looking up and marveling over.

But back to that cover shot on the first book. After the interview, son Tony Stevens gave me a cardboard box full of photographs to poke through and pore over, and I found the eventual front and back cover shots among them. So I of course asked Brooks who the drivers were and where they were taken?
He had no idea.
But, in small type down at the bottom, in the white border, were the words "AN INTERNATIONAL HARVESTER PHOTO." So I did a bit of digging discovered that "International Harvester" had been absorbed into the NAVISTAR conglomerate and, following the usual wasted phone calls and dead ends, located a sort of company archivist...who also had no idea what the pictures were all about or why International Harvester's name was on them. But he agreed that I could use them so long as I gave Navistar proper credit on the copyright page. Which I did.

Now let's fast-forward a half-dozen years or so and I'm doing a book signing at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut during their wonderful, Labor Day Weekend "Historic Festival." And out of the blue, this flinty little Scot in a proper Tam-O'-Shanter hat cames out of the crowd, fixes me with a glare that damn near shoots off sparks and demands: "Are you BS Levy?"
I had to admit I was. I mean, who the hell else would be hawking and signing copies of my books?
His lips spread out in a mean, almost salivatory smile and he bellows right at me: "I PLAN TO SUE YOU FOR EVERYTHING YOU'RE WORTH!"
As I start to hem, haw and stammer my way through an answer--ANY kind of answer!--he bursts out laughing.
Turns out I'm face-to-face with Gordon MacKenzie! The longtime and infamous starter at Lime Rock Park (justifiably renowned for displaying a large, intimidating rope noose to the passing drivers at the beginning of every race's final lap), who was also owner and driver of the #53 Jaguar XK120 featured in the picture--taken, it turns out, at Watkins Glen in 1956!--on the front cover of my book!
It's a great shot, though. You couldn't stage it any better if you got Orson Welles or Cecil B. DeMille to set it up for you:

So the bottom line is we got these shirts, see, and they're not even up on the website yet, and you can get in on the ground floor of this deal (and surprise either your own self or your Significant Other on Valentines Day) for a lousy 20 bucks. USofA Freight Included. Just call or email (see above), give us the size required and we'll make it happen!

ITEM LAST: We want to do an experiment. And YOU can be part of it! We've avoided making our famous, award-winning audio book version of THE LAST OPEN ROAD available for online download on account of we wanted to sell fancy hard copies (CD Set or USB flash drive) for a lot more money first as a way to help recover the six-figure (I am not making that number up) production cost of same. But now, in a VERY limited way, we want to dab our figurative toe into the burgeoning download market and see if we can make it work. Again, THIS IS A TEST, and if it doesn't work, we'll probably send your money back. Really we will. Probably.

Price will be forty bucks ($40.oo) with no freight--not even to Hong Kong or Australia!--and that's pretty damn cheap for 20 hours of rolicking racetrack and road-trip fun and a cast of...well, maybe not thousands, but you wouldn't want to pick up the tab if you took them all to dinner. Some really famous folks, too. A short-but-stunning explanatory video is available RIGHT HERE!
And think about it: what the heck kind of fun can you find for two bucks an hour these days? Not even a bloody flea circus.

So if you want to be part of this noble experiment, send us an email or give us a call, payment will be arranged and we'll forward you the files via WeTransfer. Which you can then download into your music & sound program, load into your phone or whatever and listen to at your leisure whilst driving, exercising or just trying to avoid human interaction in a smelly city bus or clattering subway car.
Hey, when was the last time you were in on the ground floor of ANYTHING???
A few of you (particularly, but not entirely, from the UK) recognized the device below as one of Derek Buckler's "Buckler" racing cars (more proof, as if any were needed, that--as Buddy Palumbo noted--anyone with a pile of scrap metal, a welder and a few junkyard car parts can set himself up in the sports car manufacturing business in England). All y'gotta do is hang out a shingle...
One responder even claimed that the car shown below was the "Buckler-Climax Le Mans car," but I'm not sure a Buckler ever ran at Le Mans. In fact, I'm pretty sure not. Then again, as sure as there's wax in a gentleman's mustache, there's probably a Buckler Car Club still showing a pulse somewhere in the U.K., and I'll likely be getting mail from their outraged club secretary.
I won't even open it...
Life's too short.

what's this thing?

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: