Been a long time...again!
Okay, so it's been a long time. But I've been busy and distracted and not a little worn out after all of our travels and book-hawking events this past spring and summer. Not to mention going through the usual doldrums I go through whenever I'm trying to get rhythm, continuity, discipline and inspiration going on a book project. To be honest, it's not something I fully understand or control. But I do know that if I keep paddling along, I'll "catch a wave," if you will, and then the stuff comes out of my fingers as fast as I can type. Sometimes even faster.

But I have been uncharacteristically out of touch, and that came into sharp focus when I got an out-of-the-blue call from one of you fine reader/followers asking how I was doing and inquiring, in a very nice way, if my health was OK? That made me think a bit. Because my health is OK (or maybe even better than OK, if you count the rings inside the old tree trunk and, to mix a metaphor, consider how long this particular slab of cheese has been aging). It's fall now here in the American Midwest, and a magnificent time for those long bike rides I love to take (usually 12-25 miles) for exercise and to enjoy the scenery. See pix below.

But it's been a long and occasionally rigorous spring-summer-fall book-hawking campaign--mixed in with a few speaking engagements and the usual magazine commitments and assignments--and now I'm wading into the new book again and feeling just a little bit dwarfed and daunted by the task and journey ahead. Oh, it'll come right. But, as Carol is quick to remind me, my standard MO is to mope and grouse around for awhile on every new book project before I get properly rolling again. Plus I've been dealing with an aggravating, maddening, non life-threatening eyeball issue related to my thyroid levels (which have been up and down for many years, but mostly up, and I take some minor medication for it). Bottom line is that my eyes will start weeping--out of the blue--and sometimes it's just a drop or two and sometimes it's a damn flood. It's not terribly serious in that I can wipe the tears away and go on about my business, but it is inconvenient. And I do worry about how it might impact my ability to drive racecars. In fact, I had no less than TWO kind offers from friends/serial ride-mooch enablers (you know who you are) to co-drive in the enduro at the recent/excellent VSCDA/HSR Fall Festival at Road America, and I felt obliged to turn them down. Which, as you can imagine, bummed me out considerably. But my eyeball doctor has a possible cure (or at least a help?) in the works, and I'm scheduled for some minor lower eyelid surgery in January that should reduce the leaking and flooding. Here's hoping it works out!


This past week, our warehouse received the new, ELEVENTH printing of THE LAST OPEN ROAD, and although, like everything else, the cost of both the book copies and the freight was up a dizzying amount, we have to be pretty damn proud of the long-term success and cult-classic status that first novel has enjoyed. Realize that the conventional wisdom in the publishing world is that the shelf life of a novel is usually six months--maybe a year--while this book has been attracting new readers for, lessee now, can it be 28 years? Add in that if we'd sold all those copies right off the bat, it would have been a runaway best-seller. Then again, word-of-mouth moves slowly and, given that 1950s American sports car racing is hardly a mainstream interest, we're thrilled with the results. We're also eager to keep the old ball rolling, so I'm asking, encouraging and even pleading with all you fine folks out there to:

a) tell everybody you can think of about THE LAST OPEN ROAD and it's sequels. That first book has found a lively audience even among NON-car people (it is, after all, a fifties coming-of-age story at its core, and has even been used in a few high school and college-level English classes).

b) In that regard, we'll be offering special, signed-and-personalized, gift-wrapped & shipped-to-intended-recipient copies of THE LAST OPEN ROAD (including a properly personal and/or insolent dedication message, one of our famous decals and one of our Finzio's Sinclair holiday greeting cards) to give away to whomever the heck you think should have a copy. Details will be up on the website on November 1st, or you can email us at or call the Think Fast office at 708-383-7203 for special requests, gift packages or personal attention.

c) And don't forget the award-winning and incredibly entertaining THE LAST OPEN ROAD audiobook. Done in the style of a 1950s radio play with professional voice actors, period music, authentic car noises, sound effects and Mystery Celebrity Guest Voices (David Hobbs, Brian Redman, Ray Evernham, Tommy Kendall, Patrick Long, John and Alex Doonan, Skip Barber, Bill Warner and many more), it's 20 hours long and the perfect companion for those long, cross-country tows and road trips.
NOW AVAILABLE FOR INSTANT DOWNLOAD FROM AMAZON AUDIBLE (click here), or, if you want to give it as a gift, we still have attractively packaged hard copies in both USB Flash Drive and CD set formats (both of which include a "making of the audiobook" video file that does not come with the downloadable version. See self-serving ad below:

Halloween is just a week away (very possibly my favorite holiday), and the day before, October 30th--weather cooperating--we'll be set up to schmooze and hawk books at the Fuelfed Coffee and Classics event on Lincoln Avenue in my old hometown of Winnetka, Illinois, from 9-11am. We never sell a ton of books at those events, but we DO sell a lot of the first book copies, and mostly to local passers-by who have never heard of my books before. And that's the whole idea. Usually a lot of neat old cars and neat old car people, too.
More anon,


Many of you recognized the odd device featured above as a piece of prototype, highly specialized World War II hardware commissioned by the British Government and designed and built by SS/Jaguar (soon to become just "Jaguar," as "SS" had some new and unfortunate connotations thanks to Herr Hitler and his minions). The problem to be addressed was how to parachute Jeep-type vehicles down to troops in the field and have them ready to drive off into service immediately. Early experimenting with "regular" Jeeps didn't go too well (lots of bashed & broken Jeeps) and so SS/Jaguar was tasked with building something far lighter that might survive the parachute drop in usable, drive-away condition. Wally Hassan (later father of the rightly beloved Coventry Climax FW-series fire pump, marine and automotive/racing engines) led the design team, and their first prototype (called the VA and pictured above) featured a folded steel sheet monocoque, fully independent suspension and an air-cooled, J.A. Prestwich V-Twin motorcycle engine for power. As designer Hassan noted:
“It was very light, not top heavy like the American Jeep, and was very simply engineered, but it was strong and even though only two-wheel-drive it performed reasonably well but it was just not powerful enough and we moved on to the next idea.”
Besides, by then the military had figured out how to properly drop those "American Jeeps" (additional parachutes and a shock-absorbing "landing pallet" underneath) and so the VA became just another of the near-endless line of oddball British automotive endeavors.
Wonder if Bruce Meyers ever saw a picture of one before he built his famous "Meyers Manx?"


Saw a pretty damn good USGP at CotA on TV yesterday and, in that regard, here's a bit of open-wheeler trivia. Please identify the car below, the year, the engine type and size and, for bonus points, who were the drivers?:

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: