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But I been BUSY. And, when I ain't been BUSY, I been pretty much exhausted. Worn out. Pooped. Done in. Kaput (see pic below).

Why, on Saturday night (our first weekend home that I can recall!) I watched an entire damn BASEBALL game on TV!!! All nine innings! Admittedly, it was a playoff game for our semi-beloved & long-beleaguered Chicago Cubs and, even though I'm not a real fan (to be honest, I like the White Sox a little better, but more importantly I think baseball is a pretty damn boring way to spend an entire afternoon or evening). But the Cubs being in the playoffs is kinda like Haley's Comet (due to appear next in 2061, and I'm pretty sure I'll be on the wrong side of the grass to see it) so I worry that if I miss this series, I may not live to see another....

GO CUBS!!!! 

Best as I can recall, we last left our intrepid authoring/publishing/magazine writing/ride-mooching/book tour adventure on or around Aug. 9th, when the much-publicized Difference of Opinion between myself and the reigning SVRA regime ended in a virtual handshake and cessation of hostilities, and we all turned our attention back to nice old folks having fun with neat old racecars. Which is, let's face it, all any of us are any good at these days....

I was also, you may recall, commencing the pre-release, "PREVIEW EDITION" book tour of my weighty (no surprise there) new tome, The 200mph Steamroller Book II: The Italian Job (see cover image below):

By the way, I should explain that there is virtually NO difference between the so-called "PREVIEW EDITION" and the regular "FIRST EDITION" that will become available in the mainstream bookstore/web merchant market on Oct. 31st (Halloween, natch), and also, shortly thereafter, as an e-book. The reasons for our sneaky, scheming, late-summer "pre-release" book tour are twofold:

1) I want to give our "racing" dealers and distributors the balance of the racing season to sell copies of the new book exclusively (i.e.: without competing with the monster web discounters who have just about ruined the bricks-and-mortar bookstore business).
2) To make the new book a fresh item (and, hopefully, freshly reviewed) in the mainstream bookstore/web market heading into the holiday shopping season (Nov. 15th-Jan. 15th) which is when something like a whopping 41% of yearly hardcover book sales take place.
I must say that the response to the new book has been utterly overwhelming and completely fantastic (thankyouthankyouthankyou!), and one not-yet-thoroughly-inebriated gent at Siebkens a few weeks back told me he thought it was my best ever. Really he did. And he wasn't even slurring his words. Or not much, anyway. Don't know if that's true or not, but I was really quite pleased with the new book when I sent it off to the printer, and that has not always been the case.
Although, to be honest, some early readers have had a difficult time with the ending (as one reviewer from Australia said: "Now why the hell did you have to go and do THAT????"). But trust me, it will all come good at the end of book three (give me about two more years to wrap up the third and final Steamrollervolume). After that, The Last Open Road series will be FINISHED (!!!) although I have three other novels stomping around in my skull that have nothing whatsoever to do with cars or racing. You'll like them, too.
Out schedule has been pretty damn hectic since the last e-blast. If you recall, Carol and I had just arrived in California to spend a few weeks with the kids and debut the actual hardcover First Edition of the new book at Autobooks/Aerobooks in Burbank. Followed a couple days later by a solo side-jaunt to Monterey to do our racetrack launch at the hallowed and humungous Monterey Historics. Damn near got writer's cramp signing copies and just about sold out of the new title (and I'd had the printer ship LOTS of them) plus sales of the other books in the series--especially The Last Open Road--were really good, too. For which I'm unbelievably thankful. I mean, the one thing every writer needs is an audience that wants to read his stuff! Without that, you might as well find yourself another line of work....
Plus I was covering the event for the magazine, so I was running back and forth to the fences and wheeling through the paddock to keep tabs on who was there with what, who'd broken or run into what and what was going on with the racing. You can read my full report in the upcoming issue of Vintage Motorsport, but suffice to say it was fabulous and amazing and grueling and exhausting and, as always, there was too damn much going on in too damn many different places for a mere mortal (and particularly one who's about to turn 70 in a few more weeks) to attend to, absorb and assimilate. Plus I wuz staying in the Vintage Motorsport/Arrow Lane Racing "Animal House by the Sea" rental property, which made for some glorious & entertaining, gab-fest nights and just as many dreary, dreadful, difficult mornings.
That stuff never happens when Carol's around. 
Spent a recuperative week with Carol and the kids after Monterey, and that included a visit to the always-amazing Friday-night Cruise-In at the very first Big Boy EVER in Burbank (really!) and the collection of cars attracted ran the absolute gamut. Some favorites below (look closely):

Also got a nice tour of Jay Leno's garage with Jay himself as tour guide. He's really quite the gearhead and fascinated by all the little mechanical, cultural & design oddities on his cars (did you know that the end of the turn-signal stalk on Jay's 1950 Nash Ambassador BLINKS like a 2-watt Christmas Tree bulb when you signal a turn?). See it for yourself here:
Saw his new JAY LENO'S GARAGE TV show the other night and really enjoyed it. Just what we need now that TOP GEAR (the English one, of course) has, at least for the time being, pretty much self-destructed.
The weekend after we got back from Californy, we set up our book pushcart in front of the "Oui, Madame" boutique on Lincoln Avenue again for another Fuelfed CARS & COFFEE show/book-hawking opportunity in my old hometown of Winnetka, IL. Then, a scant few days later, Carol and I packed the trusty Freestar van up to the headliner with books, gear, chairs, tables, our pop-ups and bins of logo clothing (plus our suitcases and our bicycles strapped on the back) and headed east towards the NW corner of Connecticut for Murray Smith's oh-so-excellent Lime Rock Historic Festival. You can read my full event report in the upcoming issue of Vintage Motorsport, but suffice to say this was a proper and damn-near perfect vintage race meeting with genuine period cars, a real grass-and-trees racetrack in a hugely beautiful setting (the green-clad Berkshire Mountains, bubbling trout streams, pointy old church steeples, covered bridges, etc.) surrounded by lots of old, old money that abhors ostentation and holds dear a fine and moreover refined sense of history. Which frantic, hyped-up New Yorkers regularly try to buy into on the dubious assumption that the class, panache and attitude come along with the property.
In any case, Murray had outdone himself once again what with Lady Susie and Sir Stirling Moss as grand marshals and a bunch of magnificent old Mercedes-Benz racing cars from the company museum and the Revs Institute collection. 

The famous #722 300SLR was there (the one that Moss and scribe/navigator Dennis Jenkinson took to an incredible overall victory in the 1955 Mille Miglia) plus one of the awesome, Hitler-backed, pre-war W154 Grand Prix cars.

You can just about hear the howl of Stuka dive bombers in the exhaust note of it's exotically fueled, supercharged V12, but getting to see and hear it run was a treat indeed.
Stayed in a lovely little cottage overlooking a lake and not far at all from the circuit with the rest of the Vintage Motorsport crew, but the excesses of Monterey's Animal House by the Sea were not repeated thanks to storm-anchor Carol and not having Chris Hines of ArrowLane Racing (nickname: "Beelzebub") as an instigator. In any case, the weekend was great fun and we sold LOTS of books (thankyouthankyouthankyou) and, if you've never been, I highly recommend the Lime Rock Historic Festival (always on Labor Day weekend) for both racers and fans of the sport. Or even just the mildly curious who'd like to see what a really GOOD vintage racing weekend is all about. You'll enjoy it.
We drove back from Lime Rock on the Tuesday after Labor Day (listening to the highly involving audiobook version of Erik Larson's [Devil in the White City] excellent "Dead Wake" about the sinking of the Lusitania along the way...that fellow can write!). Which reminds me: we have a meeting with a recording studio coming up tomorrow regarding our long-planned but weak-on-the-follow-through audiobook version of The Last Open Road. Fingers crossed, we're finally gonna get around to doing it...
Watch this space!
But no rest for the wicked (at least if they want to sell any books) so the following weekend we were hawking books at the Meadowdale Motorsports and Memories show on the old Meadowdale International Raceway grounds (now a lovely park with hiking trails and bike trails and ghostly, overgrown sections of the old racetrack still very much in evidence). Great show, brilliant weather and the MIRPA volunteers worked all night with pumps and push brooms to turn a flooded mud-bog quagmire into a show field. Well done.
Lots of shuttle work the following week replenishing stocks and getting books from the warehouse plus shipping books for both customers and future events (plus catching up on my "other" business), and then Carol and I were off to Road America again for the VSCDA Fall Festival. Fabulous event even if the car I was supposed to co-drive never showed up (bummer!) but the Jaguar Club ran their national convention in conjunction with the race event, and so we had all sorts of Jaguars (and Allards) in attendance and it was a spectacular weekend indeed. Sold a lot of books in conjunction with Road America's 4-Mile Merchant Store (thankyouthankyouthankyou) and got to spend some time chewing the fat at Siebkens with longtime hero/weekend banquet speaker Bob Tullius of Group 44 (see below). What an amazing guy.

Come the following Wednesday (whew!) it was off on a big silver bird again heading for San Francisco and ultimately Monterey for Porsche's once-every-couple-years Rennsport Reunion. It's the signature mega-event for Porsche Weenies (pardon me, I mean "enthusiasts") and the collection of famous racing Porsches on track and on display was literally beyond belief. As were the past and present Porsche racing stars and personalities in attendance.

But while I love a LOT of Porsche racers dearly--particularly the "early car" guys from back when Porsches were the beloved "giant killers" rather than the take-no-prisoners giants of the sport--the parking areas were swarming with all manner of "street" Porsches and their occasionally tight-assed "street" Porsche owners who...well, let's not get into it, OK? Suffice to say that from my vantage point at my book-hawking table in the Vintage Motorsport magazine booth, I saw an unusual number of scowls and self-important sneers mixed in with the usual and expected smiles.
Just sayin'....
Met some great new Porsche folks, though and, not to put too fine a point on it, the best race of the entire weekend was the "little car" group (who, by the way, got one less track session than the "big, important cars") with Cam Healey's Porsche-Cooper "Pooper" hybrid having a whale of a battle with Greg Campbell's Devin-Porsche, while a few ticks astern my old friend and Porsche 356 "bathtub" builder/racer extraordinaire Mark Eschuke mixed it up mightily with customer/friend and 2nd-gen 356 racer George F. Balbach. It was stirring stuff (mostly clean, too) and that made for a nice contrast with the rest of the weekend, wherein almost every session included double-yellows and a pace car, red flags or black-flag-alls.
Again, I'm just sayin'....
Was planning to do Petit LeMans at Road Atlanta the following weekend, but thankfully there were some logistical problems and, truth be told, I wuz plumb wore out. Turns out I dodged a bullet there, as it poured unmercifully all weekend, the place was soggy, cold and sodden from beginning to end and I was damn lucky to miss it.
And that brings us to Wednesday of last week, when I attended the MAMA (Midwest Automotive Media Association) "Fall Rallye" track day at Autobahn in nearby Joliet, IL. It was great bombing around the racetrack (albeit with pace!) in a wide variety of the industry's latest and best, and I was particularly impressed by the raw, musclecar feel of the "who-the-hell-really-needs-700+horsepower-to-go-grocery-shopping" Dodge Hellcat, the vault-like security and solid poise of the Mercedes C300, the style, refined-hooligan manners and sound-studio-special-effects exhaust note of the Jaguar F-Type "R" coupe and both the ATS-V and CTS-V from Cadillac. A little garish on the interior end (at least compared to the Jag and the Benz), but their over-the-road/around-the-racetrack behavior is both excellent and amazing. Who'da thunk it from Cadillac? See tasty new cars below getting ready to be flogged unmercifully by ham-fisted journalists:

Hard work, but somebody's got to do it. They fed us pretty good, too....
Fun-to-drive laurels went to the Mazda Miata (best British sports car ever built, even if it does come from Japan), the eager Ford Focus ST and, in spite of their current well-publicized Diesel Exhaust troubles (shame, shame), VW still builds one hell of a good and complete product.
For you "everyday sedan with just a dash of flash" types, I came away mightily impressedwith both the Mazda 6 and the (or all things) Buick Regal GS (which is really a disguised German Opel, when you get right down to it).
I'm hoping to have a Chumpcar drive at Road America this coming weekend if it pans out (really eager to get back into a blessed racecar again, even if it's a Chumpcar), and then we're probably book-boothing in front of "Oui, Madame" again at the last Cars and Coffee thing in Winnetka on Oct. 25th. Then it's a few weeks to regroup & work on the new audiobook before heading down to cover/hawk books and hopefully participate in the HSR's 24-Hour Classic at Daytona International Speedway Nov. 12-15. Then it's off to Californy again to spend Thanksgiving & my birthday (December 4th, if you were thinking of sending me a Ferrari or XK120 or a 5-pound box of money or something) with the kids, followed by a birthday present to myself in the form of the always-fun VDCA race weekend at Roebling Road near Savannah Dec. 12-13, where I will be RACING Super Dave Bondon's Royale (see below with me in it at Road Atlanta what seems like a million years ago but was only just last April) and some other stuff and I'm not even bringing any effing books along.
Well, maybe just a few....



Our excellent and justly infamous
"prancing chili peppers" jewelry!
It's the logo Ferrari threatened to sue us over!

We have stud and dangle-style earrings, lapel pins, tie tacks, magnets etc. 
Also, while you're there, pick up a stack of

Or a copy of the new book (or any of the books...we're not choosy when it comes to taking in $$$$).
BTW, signed, personalized copies of ALL of Burt's books make great holiday gifts for all the gearheads on your list....


Well, it's been a long time, hasn't it? But the last Trivia Question (sent out way back on July 29th, I believe) was about THIS unlikely-looking car:

I asked what it was, who designed it, who built it, who bought it, where it was bought, when it was bought and for how much swag. Got a surprising number of complete and correct answers, a few correct but incomplete ones and many more along the lines of "WHUT TH' HAIL IS THAT THING????"

Well, it's a Pegaso, and it was built in the early 1950s by a Spanish truck-and-bus manufacturer that wanted to showcase their creative and mechanical capabilities. To that end, they hired Barcelona native ex-Alfa Romeo designer/engineer Wilfredo Ricart to design something that would put every existing Europen supercar in the shade. Now Wilfredo Ricart was a fierce rival of Enzo Ferrari's when they both worked at Alfa Romeo before the war, and Enzo didn't think much of the way Ricart fancied shoes with thick rubber soles to "cushion the shock to his brain" when he walked. Plus he looked a little bit like Bela Lugosi (see images below...Ricart's the one on the left).

Anyhow, the car he designed was pretty damn amazing. It had a big, loud, powerful four-overhead-cam hemi-head V8 (some were even supercharged) plus a 5-speed transaxle, fully independent front suspension/deDion rear suspension and some of the most outlandish bodywork ever seen from a variety of European coachbuilders (although I believe this one may have been built in-house?). Now, if you were paying attention, this particular car makes a brief cameo appearance on pgs. 307-309 of MONTEZUMA'S FERRARI,where it is on display on the Pegaso stand at The International Motor Sports Show at the Grand Central Palace in Manhattan when Buddy and Julie drop in on the afternoon of Easter Sunday, April 18, 1953. It's further mentioned that the car was sold, right off the show stand, to Dominican Republic strongman/dictator Rafael Trujillo for the thoroughly incredible-for-the-time price of $29,500 US dollars (Ferraris were less than half that in 1953!).


What the heck is THIS gorgeous piece???
Bonus question: WHERE is it?

Ta-Ta for now....

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: