Been a long time, eh?

Okay. I know I've been crap about sending out timely, pithy, less than 10,000-word e-blasts to keep y'all informed (and, more importantly, aware, engaged & interested!) regarding our ongoing & occasionally spectacular summer series of adventures, misadventures, speaking engagements, road trips, plane trips, book-signing opportunities, jack-in-the-box disasters (including the dreaded COVID!) and random responsibility-duckings that have kept us more than occupied since out last chat. Er, blog.

I see in the old, rearward-facing mirror that my last blog was way back on the morning of May 29th, with the Monaco Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500 still on the immediate viewing horizon and, as any fool can plainly see, a lot of sand has gone through the old hourglass since then. So here's the short-form (HAH!) recapitulation (well, short form for me, anyway) of what's transpired since then:

Memorial Day Monday: With all the big pro races taking place on the Sunday, Carol and I went on a nice, long walk on our usual, go-to woodsy/riverside nearby path at Graue Mill (aprox. 3.5 miles around) where we saw lots of flora and a little fauna, too (including a Great Blue Heron beak-fishing and then taking off--rather majestically--to find a better spot).
What a pair of drumsticks!!!

The above shot is actually mostly Pond Scum, but it sure looks purty, don't it? Makes you wonder: how can a God who can create such beautiful & inspiring things also crap out disgusting & disturbing phenomena like fringe-edge politicians (left or right...take your pick) and even-fringier (I'm sure there's such a word) loudmouth/chickenshit radio/TV talk-show crazies? Again, right or left...pick yer poison.
Boggles the mind, eh?

Saturday, June 4th, I did as little instructing and as much book-hawking as possible at our local Alfa and Lotus clubs' combined/cooperative track day at Blackhawk Farms Raceway in Rockton, IL (not so incidentally the same track where I went through my own first Drivers' School some 41 years ago...but who's counting?). A fun day that also bore witness to all the wonderful "Get on Track" opportunities available these days from various marque clubs, the newly remodeled SCCA, the MCSCC, outfits like "Hooked on Driving" and "Laps" and the tracks themselves. Such things simply did not exist back when I started up in this game (go ahead: "when dinosaurs--in helmets, of course--roamed the earth"):

They're great opportunities as far as sticking your proverbial toe in the even-more-proverbial water without going-down-for-the-third-time in the inevitable dramas, disappointmnents, disasters and time-sink/economic quicksand commitments (not to mention spousal disapproval, anger & outrage) of running an actual racing effort out of your own sorry garage, driveway and checking account. That said, may I observe four eternal, elemental and maybe even existential Track Truths for you neophytes (experienced racers with the sorry bank accounts to prove it may move on to the next section):
1) No street machine, no mater how cool, quick, up-to-the-minute Techno Modern or jazzy, is ever gonna compare to the feel, response and capability of a REAL racing car when you get it out on a circuit and boot it around. The main problem is weight. With the current crop of supercars nudging towards two effing tons at curbside --add another quarter-ton plus for electric or semi-electric supercar options--a couple laps in a well-prepped formula car, Lotus 7, Radical, Sports 2000 or even a blessed Miata (best small-capacity British sports roadster ever built, even if it DID come from Japan) or SCCA SpecRacer will get you wondering if all that tire width, aero gimmickry and rampaging horsepower is really worth all the elephantine avoirdupois that comes with it?
2) Consumables. To racers, that means stuff you run through and ultimately run out of pretty regularly doing any kind of serious (or semi-serious) track work. Such as fuel, tires, brake pads, etc. And the harder and longer you drive, the more of that shit you wind up using up and buying anew.
3) Modifications. Let me tell you from bitter personal experience: every single thing you do to make your street car into a better track car will make it worse--and less pleasant or even livable--as daily transportation. May I suggest you and a couple buddies (or budettes) go partners in a dedicated track-day car (tricked-out Miata, Radical, Spec Racer, etc.) to share and keep your aero-wedge, 3500-plus pound road warriors in their natural habitat. Meaning in your garage, on a nice stretch of autobahn or a swoopy country road or parked front-and-center at the doorway of some very nice restaurant. Unless some guy with an even more impressive or later-model supercar shows up, that is, in which case you'll experience the gut-tightening terror of watching the young car-parker with the tattoos, bleached ponytail and WalMart studs through both earlobes and ditto nostrils grab your keys while grinning a wicked-enough, menacing-enough grin for the Prince of Darkness himself...
Enjoy your meal!
4): Never, and I mean NEVER, add up what your racing addiction/predilection is costing you. And if you do make that sorry mistake, never (and I mean N-E-V-E-R!) share the information with your better half, wife or partner...
You can take my soapbox now, sonny. I'm about done here...

There were many low points associated with the dreaded COVID pandemic, and front-and-center for Carol & me was not being able to spend real, face-to-face/press-the-flesh/do-stuff-together quality time with our beloved son Adam and his equally beloved wife & our daughter by both marriage and good fortune, Tara. Sure, we'd call, zoom & face time several times each week but, as any parent will tell you, it's just not the same thing.
But travel has been difficult and foreboding. Now Carol and I have had all of our shots & boosters and also apparently had our own, mild-symptom bouts with COVID before it was even fully fashionable. Hey, it's important to beat the crowd...

Only then fate stepped in and I was quite happily engaged to be Banquet Speaker at this year's Alfa Romeo Owners' Club National Convention (officially titled "Alfiesta Coronado") to be held at the Loews' Hotel on Coronado Island, just off San Diego. And I was thrilled to be selected!
Better yet, there was an Alfa Club Track Day at Willow Springs (a fast, bumpy, hoary and dusty old racetrack in the barren and forlorn High Desert country NW of L.A.) on the Monday prior. Followed by a docent-led tour/luncheon at the rightly renowned Petersen Museum in downtown LA the very next day. Did I mention that I also had beaucoups-and-then-some of Freebie Flyer miles as chalky residue from the pandemic thanks to the continued use/abuse of my Southwest Airlines VISA card during the two-plus years when I wasn't traveling anywhere?

So Carol & I packed way too much shit (lessee here: big book-signing roller-case, racetrack-gear duffel, personal rolling suitcases for Carol & me, carry-ons, etc...we about needed a Sherpa guide), took one last at-home COVID test, put on our masks and headed for Midway Airport and thence on to LA (actually Burbank) on Tuesday, June 7th. Decent flight (the other airlines could take a few hints & tips from Southwest, I think) and it was FABULOUS to see our kids again. Even their stinking little Chihuahua-mix rescue mongrel Hank seemed glad--or at least tolerant--to see me again! He always got along with Carol (no surprise there), but delighted in snarling & barking at my heels whenever I got up to head for the john or the kitchen or wherever, and occasionally punctuated the proceedings by leaping up and nipping me lightly on the ass.
I kid you not.
But age seems to have mellowed us both, and he only barked at me a few times (and half-heartedly at that), and nipping me on the ass was apparently just not worth the trouble any more. To be honest, I think I missed the attention...

We spent the better part of two-and-a-half weeks staying with them (between car-and book-oriented engagements and ooprtunities), not doing much of anything except eating way too many tasty (and even occasionally healthy) meals, watching too much mostly-premium TV (Adam and Tara are both involved in the TV business--he as a writer, she as a casting director--so at least they have a professional excuse), walking Hank through Toluca Lake so we could eyeball all the very nice homes we can no way afford, browsing through book stores and generally hanging out.
We also hiked up Fryman Canyon several times (don't let the "Canyon" moniker fool you, it's largely up-hill and a STEEEEP climb for the first mile or so) and, on the way down, we passed George Clooney's house (nice, stately, handsome and tasteful as you'd expect from looking at his work and his wife, but we weren't invited inside...or even much noticed) as well as the pretty showy brick house that was used for the exterior shots for the Kardashian family franchise of so-called "reality" shows (although the actual interior shots--virtually everything that mattered--were shot elsewhere).
Personally, I don't "get" reality TV. All you have to do is dolly your eyeball consciousness back far enough to see the cameramen (or women) & cameras, sound people & equipment, scripts girls (pardon me, make that "script persons") with clipboards, lighting people & equipment, emergency hair fixers/lipstick and blusher appliers and cleavage/bra/bustier adjusters lurking just outside the camera frame and, well, any notion of extemporaneous "reality" falls right out the window. Or down the nearest cleavage...take yer pick.
Then again, as Tara notes: "Watching that garbage makes me feel so much better about myself." And I can sort of understand that. Even if it's still a colossal waste of time.

Anyhow, here we are all together mid-hike at the high-ridge apogee of Fryman Canyon (we look pretty good, eh...oh, and watch out for the rattlesnakes that we never saw but talked about an awful lot):

We also hiked around the Hollywood Reservoir, which is something like 3.25 miles around, very scenic & sunny and with a net bridge and a lot less uphill/downhill grade challenges:

The Hollywood Reservoir hike included a stunning (if typically hazy) view of the famous/infamous "HOLLYWOOD" sign that is as symbolic of Hollywood as the Statue of Liberty is for the rest of the country. Aspiring-but-failing-and-despairing-of-it British starlet Peg Entwistle jumped to her death off that sign on September 16th, 1932, and this is important here because both the sign and her story are briefly featured in my yet-to-be-finished/post-THE LAST OPEN ROAD series novel REAL BALLS, which takes place "in the not-too-distant future" (translation: NO EFFING RESEARCH!!!), and which I do hope to get around to completing before my mind turns completely to mush. But I WILL finish the last STEAMROLLER/LAST OPEN ROAD series novel, "The 200mph Steamroller Book IV: Assault on Four O'Clock," first. I promise.
I need about two more years.
And to those of you who plunked down $100 each for one of the limited edition (we're only making 100, and each one is individually numbered), super-classy, suede-bound & brass-plated "25th Anniversary Commemorative Edition" copies of THE LAST OPEN ROAD, they are indeed in the works. Finally. We expect to have them late September/early October along with the "regular" eleventh printing (!!!!) of the standard edition. That makes our 25th Anniversary Special Edition roughly three years late, but that's about par for the course for me and my long-on-promises/short-on-delivery book promises. Thank you for your patience! And, just as a side note, we DO have some unsold numbered copies from this EXTREMELY limited edition. Please reach out if you'd like to get in the long, impatient line with the rest of the suckers...I mean, "fine supporters of my work."

Funny story from our Hollywood Reservoir hike: Tara and I spotted a squadron-sized group of gentlemen dressed in bright orange off in the distance, and we both figured they were, umm, "Unfortunate/Unwilling Guests of the State" being put to useful cleanup purposes around the reservoir. Imagine our surprise when we drew closer and realized they were Thai/Tibetan (I was always weak on geography, and don't even get me started on religion) monks wrapped in bright orange silk (satin? taffeta?) robes and walking around in sandals. We smiled at them and they all smiled pleasantly back at us. Hey, odd and unusual are the norm around LA...

On Saturday, I headed over to visit my friends and sign a few books at the amazing AUTOBOOKS/AEROBOOKS store in Burbank (click to visit their website). If you've never been, you simply MUST visit. Tina VanCurren,long-suffering husband Chuck and their stalwart, enthusiastic & knowlegable crew have put together the most incredible and complete selection of books, magazines, doo-dads, gee-gaws, merch, models, gizmos and what-have-you to appeal to every phylum, class, order, family, genus and species of racer, waxer, flyboy, hot-rodder, motorcycle, train, plane or automobile nutcase, gasoline-addict, motor- and gear-head on God's green earth. Budget the better part of half a day just for an initial browsing and bring a credit card with a healthy balance left for sure! You'll need it!

Come Sunday, I biked over to a very relaxed and laid back (but pretty damn enormous) car show/cruise-in at a big, mostly green park in nearby Glendale. You could call it "eclectic" or you could call it a brilliant, varied, peaceful and wonderful "gathering of the automotive tribes," what with everything from a low-rider, lightly customized first-edition Buick Riviera (always one of my favorite Detroit designs) in an oh-so-appropriate shade of iridescent purple to the usual (and beautifully presented) selection traditional California Hot Rods and customs (takes me back!) to an era-correct early Porsche 356 SCCA/CalClub race car to MGs and TRs and choppers and Beezers and Triumph twins & triples and magnificent classic Vincent Black Shadows for 2-wheeler devotees to...well, just look at the damn pictures below. Highlight of the day for a lot of folks was when a lanky old guy with an old, supercharged "rail" dragster donned his flameproofs, got inside, fired it up and rattled windows/shook all the bird crap out of the trees for a minute or two as he revved it and revved it and revved it. Much to the delight of the now slightly-deafened crowd. Personally, it struck me as much the same as taking your dong out and waving it around in a public place, but that's just me...
Anyhow, check out the pix:

And why on earth would you put a Detroit V8 in an E-type?


Here are a couple random shots from the chaotic/ritualistic "arranging of the cars" for the de rigueur Alfa Club Track Day group photo at Willow Springs. Can you say "herding cats?" It was 96 degrees under a relentless sun, but one of the local track rats informed me: "Aw, y'shoulda been here last Wednesday. It was an effing hunnert and six..."

Found time for a quick visit to my friends on the prep, project-realization and resoration crew at Jay Leno's famous Big Dog Garage, and that's always a fabulous place. Jay was off shooting his new(-ish) "You Bet Your Life" TV show, but just chatting with the crew and seeing the collection and works in progress was a wonderful way to spend a few hours.

I did a bit of bike-riding, mostly in the early mornings (it's lovely then in and around Burbank), and there are even a couple decent places to ride. But none near as good as the bike path trough the woods just a mile from my house, and where I plan to be when I'm done writing this and shipping a few books and some Elkhart Lake caps...

Come Friday, we drove down to Coronado Island off San Diego for the "Alfiesta" Alfa convention, and don't even get me started about SoCal traffic. It's frankly and regularly miserable, and I get a knot in my gut when some motorcycle type comes whizzing past riding the dotted line that's SUPPOSED to separate lanes of traffic. Mind you, that sort of 2-wheeled behavior is both legal and accepted in California, but I wonder if those folks realize:
1) A significant portion of car and truck drivers are NOT paying attention, and another large percentage are preoccupied with their cell phones, their music or satellite-station choices or the condition/appearance of their lipstick and eye-liner. And I'm not talking just the ladies here...
2) On a motorcycle, you ARE the bumper...
Don't get me wrong. I LOVE motorcycles. But I think the best place for them is far away from bored, bumper-to-bumper lines of stop-and-go traffic. Idiots drive a lot of cars. And trucks. And pickups. And, well, you get the idea.

Coronado Island is a lovely place to visit that has sadly been overrun--devoured, actually--by it's own touristy popularity. The place was jam-packed with folks on our Alfa weekend, and while I heartily recommend a visit to the gracious, fascinating and welcoming old Del Coronado Hotel (where much of the wonderful old Billy Wilder comedy SOME LIKE IT HOT was filmed...see pic of ballroom below), the rest of it is pretty tourist-y. Not to mention overcrowded & expen$ive.
The Alfa convention was surely worth it, however, and just the cars parked in front of the hotel put you in the right frame of mind. Alfa has struggled a bit from time to time here in America, but California--and particularly SOUTHERN California--has always been a great market for both the cars and the mystique. So you see some really great Alfas in Southern Cal, and they truly thrive here. In fact, I devoted a segment of my presentation to how Alfisti (affectionate and endearing name for Alfa crazies) back home in the Midwest have to deal with winter and salt on the roads and slush and how we tend to have long, between-season discussions about the relative quality, texture and infection-depth of PININFARINA rust versus BERTONE rust...
And if you don't get that, you really need to buy yourself an Alfa and join the club. BTW, Alfa's current crop of cars look lovely (not to mention distinctive) and are wonderful to drive. Pretty damn reliable, too. They'll also serve as an entry to the world of the Alfa Cogniscenti, which is, as car groups go, a very nice and welcoming place to be.
The previously mentioned Del Coronado Ballroom:

The Alfa Convention Concours d'Elegance was a tremendous success, and brought together a bunch of mouth-watering, bank-account empty-ing Alfas from distant history through the day before yesterday. Pix below show an absolutely to-die-for, elegant and graceful Ghia-bodied coupe from the early fifties, a svelte and sexy Sprint Speciale, one of the TZ-1 Tubolare racing coupes that I so desperately crave and my personal favorite, a baby-blue Giulietta Sprint that looked like it must have when it rolled off the blessed assembly line in Milano in late 1956 or early '57. Just captivating!

We also presented a Buddy Palumbo award at the oncours (it went to Dolph Wood from Salt Lake City, who did all the welding & metal shaping--and just about everything else on the car--himself. I'm a little bummed that the "new regime" at the nonpariel Amelia Island Concours decided to shitcan the award after 17 consecutive years in order to shorten up the awards program, but I'm glad to see other clubs, shows and events picking it up. I LIKE the idea of a acr-show award that goes to someone who does the bulk of the restoration/preparation work themselves--and moreover DRIVES the bloody car--rather than to the guy who found the best subcontractors and wrote a bunch of checks...
You can take my soapbox again, sonnyboy...

The Concours pix:

I'd like to say that my Alfa-infused PowerPoint presentation at the Saturday-evening banquet went swimmingly, but there were a few glitches that prompted a post-event re-think. See, I try to put together an audience-focused, mixed-media presentation that I put a lot of time and effort into and, as Carol is quick to point out: "You DO tend to run on..."
I also prefer to begin my presentation as soon as the last of the coffee and desserts are being doled out. And especially if my audience has spent all effing day since early AM getting ready for, participating in and cleaning up after the concours.
But, in this case, the after-meal program featured the presentation of a few long-term participation awards, some random aknowlegements, thank-yous and speechifying and a few words from Larry Dominique, who is the current capo de tutti capo head man at Alfa Romeo North American (which is now part of the Stellantis Group, whatever the heck that is...sounds like a space ship from an old Star Trek episode, doesn't it?).
The interesting thing here is that Larry Dominique started out as an engineer rather than a marketing type (I like! I like!) and has a really solid grasp on where Alfa has been, where they are now and where they hope to be in the future here in the North American market. He said all the right stuff without sounding like a blessed TV pitchman, and I really thought he did a good job.
That said (and this was not his or anybody else's fault), it was damn near quarter-to-ten before I got summoned up to the podium to make my presentation. As is our custom, we gave the crowd a 5-minute break to take a leak, get another drink or three or cop a sneak if they didn't want to hang around for my show, and something like 25%-30% of the folks flat didn't come back. Which was a little disappointing after I put so many hours and so much effort into the show. But you couldn't blame them. They were bushed...
And then, when I looked out at the faces who did return--by far the majority--I saw some very drawn, tired & exhausted-looking eyeballs indeed.
It's important to read your audience, and many of those people--you could see it--were longing for a soft bed and a turned-off alarm clock rather than a rip-roaring journey through my own personal life, writing and racing careers, assorted adventures and disasters and with a little Alfa history thrown in, too.
It went pretty good, and they were a fine audience. Most of them even laughed here and there (or at least kept their eyes open the whole time). But I did learn an important lesson: In the future, I will always include "bail-out points" in my presentations, so I can easily "fast forward" to the end of the show if I feel I'm losing people's attention or see folks nodding off into the remains of their ice-cream sundaes.
We live, and we learn.

Come Sunday morning, Carol and I had a nice breakfst and then fought traffic all the way back to the LA area (NEVER again on a Sunday!) and then spent another splendid several days with Adam & Tara (okay, and Hank, too). Can't tell you how good and right it felt being with and around them again. A blessing for sure!
We flew back to Chicago at the end of the week, did the usual unpacking, clothes-washing and wallowing in weary misery that inevitably follows any extended trip, and the following weekend we were back at Road America for our first-ever book-signing at a NASCAR event. To be honest, we were a little bit apprehensive, but the vast majority of the fans who visited us in The Paddock Shop were:
1) friendly, knowledgeable and enthusiastic
2) had never heard of my books
Conventional wisdom, such as it is, might lead one to think that the greater rank-and-file majority of NASCAR fans are not, typically, readers of fiction. Or readers of any book without pictures, come to that. Then again, if we managed to capture the interest of just ONE-HALF OF ONE FREAKING PERCENT of NASCAR fans, we would effectively triple or even quadruple our market size. No shit.
In any case, we sold a LOT of books, and even SOLD OUT of THE LAST OPEN ROAD (see pic below). Sure, it was a markedly different core crowd from the pro, amateur and vintage road racers we know. The majority wore colorful Tee shirts attesting to undying allegiance/preference for one particular NASCAR driver, team, car brand or sponsor and, not to put to fine a point on it, some of the women dressed in "midriff" outfits had perhaps a bit too much midriff for the style. Not that there's anything wrong with it...and it WAS pretty hot outside. Lots of tattoos, too, on both genders. Sure, there were some rather in-you-face, right-fringe-political T-shirts and caps that didn't sit too well with me. But I kept my mouth shut (as I should) since what this country needs most is a move away from the fringes and towards the dickering, dialog and discourse in the middle--contentious though it may often be--that has always been and still needs to be at the operational core of a Jeffersonian democracy.

You can take my soapbox again, sonnyboy.

As to NASCAR's announced move to an ad-hoc Chicago street circuit next year--at the expense of Road America's NASCAR date--I see that as a big mistake. Everybody on hand seemed to enjoy running NASCAR's premiere series on what is, surely rather than arguably, the best, most beautiful and most fan-friendly road-racing track in the country. Plus, as both a longtime racer & enthusiast AND a 5th-generation Chicagoan and lifelong Chicago booster, I see problems on the horizon for the Chicago street race. There are a lot of groups who are NOT gonna like the idea, and some of them have lots of clout. And followers. And money to spend. And grievances to air. And then, if they DO manage to pull it off, can the city and its various businesses actually make any money on the deal? And then, after you've considered all of that, take a look at the track layout and tell me, honestly, just where the hell are you gonna pass another car?
I remember my old sponsor and friend Joe Marchetti, who started the big July vintage races at Road America and was hugely well-connected here in Chicago, wanted a CART street race here in Chicago. He and his friend Jim Dutt, the President of Beatrice (a brand--or, more accurately, a diverse collection of brands--that had tried to solidify its corporate image by jumping into motorsports with both feet in both F1 and Indycar). So you had two high-powered, well-connected local guys trying to pull this off and run a CART Indycar race on a fairly similar temporary lakefront road course. But they ran into problems with the Park District. And "Friends of the Park." And well-meaning do-gooders who felt the race would prevent "regular Chicagoans" from accessing The Field Museum and The Aquarium and The Planetarium and our beloved lakefront and...
I remember Joe looking at me from across the table in his wonderful Como Inn restaurant...a place frequented by so many aldermen and City Hall fixers and important union bosses from McCormack Place and elsewhere and even a few tough-looking guys in fine Italian silk suits and nicknames like "Eddie the Weasel" and "Big Tuna" and "Joey the Exterminator" and last names that most usually ended in vowels. But even with all those connections and all that clout, they couldn't pull it off. I remember Joe shrugging his shoulders and rolling his eyes: "We don't even know who the heck to pay off..."
Watch this space...
Spent Monday, July 4th at home following the big NASCAR weekend at Road America, and that's about when I first came down with this nagging/infuriating chest-congestion/runny nose thing that I know is contagious on account of I gave it to Carol about a week later. And I am STILL fighting through the lingering dregs of it today, damn near a month later. Even had to skip the MILLERS at MILWAUKEE meet (one of my favorite events) 'cause I felt so crappy--which was a huge bummer--and a CARS & COFFEE book-signing in nearby Hinsdale the following day.There was never any fever and multiple COVID tests--including lab tests on both of us--have all come back negative. Don't know what the f**k it is or where the hell it came from, but it put me flat on my back for the better part of a week and is still sapping my energy even today. Ugh!
Moving right along:

Had my column due for VINTAGE MOTORSPORT on 7/18, and I started writing about the infamous and fabulous Ferrari Breadvan (which isn't really a Ferrari if you want the truth of it, even though it was built--hot-rodded, actually--out of a particular Ferrari SWB Berlinetta using all Ferrari components and designed/created by recently ex-Ferrari racing engineer Giotto Bizzarrini. It's a unique, fantastic and fascinating story (covered at some length in my second Steamroller book), and the cool thing is that I actually got to drive it--at speed on a racetrack, and twice no less--back when my sponsor/Ferrari trader Joe Marchetti had it and again after it was sold to my then-new racing friend Monte Shalett.

What prompted the whole thing was that a 31-year-old driver managed to fetch this one-of-a-kind icon up against the barriers at the Le Mans Classic--doing it no good at all--and in the wake of that sorry experience, several well-known folks made online comments about "owners not attempting to 'add new history' to famous and particularly one-of-a-kind racing cars. Read the story when it comes out to get my take on the proposition, but (and this should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me or reads my stuff), what was supposed to be a 900-word column ballooned up into a 3,000-plus word feature (which will indeed appear in a future issue), which meant that I had to come up with an alternate column. And in a freaking hurry.
And the situation was exacerbated (love that word) by the fact that the big WeatherTech International Challenge with Brian Redman was coming up at Road America the following weekend, and I was ALSO supposed to write the race report on that extravaganza and similarly get it in under the deadline wire. Which I did. Barely. Hanging on my my effing flying, typing fingernails...

Carol was in the grips and depths of the chest-congestion thing mentioned above, which meant I had to do the weekend on my own. Jeez, I miss her when she's not there. Not to mention that I have to do all the "book-booth" crap myself, which is a lot of work and which she does an awful lot of if I play my cars right...
As usual, the WIC was (and is) a fabulous event, and the feature this year was a once-in-a-lifetime assemblage of Dan Gurney Eagles (see pic below). You can read all about it in my race report in the upcoming issue of Vintage Motorsport (if you don't have a subscription yet, you need to bite the bullet, dig out your wallet and buy yourself one at VINTAGE MOTORSPORT.COM. The WIC was indeed a singular, special, stellar and spectacular race weekend.
Also sold/signed a lot of books alongside genuine motorsports heroes/now friends David Hobbs and Brian Redman (we did GOOD!) although David DID manage to crack, break, collapse and comprehensively destroy one of our directors' chairs (with his name embroidered on the back, no less!) and deposit himself somewhat suddenly and unceremoniously on the ground (see bottom pic below). I'll be sending him a bill...

Last weekend (we're getting to the end of things...finally!) I flew down to Charlotte and drove my way to The Switzerland Inn in Little Switzerland, NC, to be Friday-night after-dinner speaker at the Jaguar Clubs of the Carolinas' annual concours there. The place is pretty much as-described and as-imagined, walking distance from the serpentine and gorgeous Blue Ridge Parkway and overlooking a vista of forested mountains and vast distances. Just lovely! See pix below. The food was really good, too!
The concours attracted all sorts of Jaguars from a Mk. 9 and an XK140 onwards to the recent, refined and yet decidedly muscular F-Types and such. Sadly missing were examples of my beloved Jaguar Mk. II and XJ6 sedans--which I have always loved and rate highly--but the other cars made up for it and each, as you can imagine, came with a story. Best part were the people, who turned out to be a highly diverse and entertaining bunch--from all over the globe, in fact--who had all led interesting lives. Truly enjoyed hanging around the outdoor bar and fire pits with them. And the indoor bar after a truly hellacious thunderstorm--with all the usual, dramatic special effects--blasted through on Saturday evening.

I'm happy to say that my talk started right after dinner and went pretty well. The audience seemed to like it, anyway. And a big "THANKS" to Brad and Barb Merlie (and their sweetheart of a dog!) who came up with the notion of bringing me there in the first place and somehow convinced the other board members it was a good idea. Charming place, wonderful event and nice folks, too...

August 5-7: Alongside David Hobbs in the Road America Paddock Shop from 11-2:30 all three days during the big Road America IMSA weekend. Would like to get more IMSA teams to display our THE LAST OPEN ROAD decals (an awful lot of which seem to find their way into Victory Lane...)

August 12-14 (tentative): VSCDA at Grattan.

August 19-21: World Challenge weekend at Road America

August 28: At the SCCA bivouac at The Geneva Concours, Genev

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: