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Carol and I have been kicking around doing an audiobook version of The Last Open Road for quite some time, and I always had this crazy notion that, since it takes place back in the early fifties, wouldn't it be cool to do it as an old-time, 1950s radio play?

I mean from back in the pre-TV days (yes, Virginia, the actually was such a time) when folks would gather around their radios (see picture below)

much like their distant ancestors gathered around crackling campfires and listened to tall tales while slicing up saber-tooth tiger steaks or gnawing on mastodon knuckles.

See, there's a lot you can do with just words and a few sound effects and maybe some appropriate music and, most of all, the listeners' imagination. It can take you places TV and the movies can't. Plus you can take it with you (on cross-country drives or climbing up a stairmaster or whatever) and it's great to hear epic stories told by great [OK, and not-so-great] actor/storyteller voices

spiked here and there with the inevitable and sometimes hilarious commercial interruptions ("Friends, do you suffer from bad breath, bad skin, excessive body odor or ingrown toenails?")

BTW, bonus points if you can identify the pre-broadcast meeting taking place in the picture directly above.

Anyhow, we happened to stumble into the Right Guy to help us put it all together at Road America last summer: the sharp, talented & experienced Josh Richter of Victorian Recording Studios, who has the motorsports bug bigtime, loves the books and has been invaluable in moving this from a wild idea to an actual, in-progress project.
Just yesterday, Carol and I listened to the "rough cut" of the first couple chapters, complete with different actors doing the dialogue voices, sound effects, etc.
It flat blew us away!
I read the bulk of the narration myself (I'm hopefully not too awful) but the different characters and the car-shop and track sound effects really make it come alive!
I can't tell you how excited we are about it!

Sure, there's a long way to go and who knows if we can maintain the feel and quality and integrity of the thing over the long haul until it's finished (I figure 6 months at the very least), but we're sure going to give it our best shot. And, if it comes out half as good as I think it's going to be, it'll be just the thing to listen to when you're pounding down the interstate on your way to your next race or car event.

Or when you're flat on your back underneath a drooling oil pan or a recalcitrant transmission on your home-garage floor. Or working out at the gym, trying to turn some of that six-pack beer flab into six-pack abs. Or just laying out in a hammock on the patio on a warm summer evening...
Plus I know there are some folks out there who don't much care for reading (see "THOSE people don't read!" on the back of most of our dust jackets), and this will be a chance to reach out to them and make Buddy's story accessible.
And take their money, too...

Which brings us to some history:

We actually broke a little Fresh Ground in the publishing world back in the summer of 1999 (really we did) when we introduced the second novel in The Last Open Road series at Road America. It was a matter of pure desperation, to be honest. By then the first book was in its third printing: two self-published out of our own pocket--again, out of sheer desperation--and the third thanks to bigtime New Yawk publisher St. Martin's Press, who on the one hand were wonderful for validating all of our hard work and faith in that first book (Thankyou! Thankyou! Thankyou!), but never really did much with it promotion-wise once they had it in their catalog.

By that point it'd already dawned on us (and by "us," I mean wife Carol and I, who had both become sorely accustomed to extravagant indulgences like food, shelter and clothing) that the existing business model in the book-publishing world was, to sum it up in but a single word...bullshit.

Let me explain. You had to lay out all this dough in front to produce the damn thing (15-20 grand, most likely) and then try to make it back 25 or 30 bucks at a time while traveling all over the map trying to find places where potential buyers/readers might be in attendance. And don't even get me started on the longed-for (HAH!) mainstream bookstore market. Or distributor discounts (as much as 60%). Or their payment terms (90-120 days) or how they hold back a percentage against possible returns and make you take back those effing returns (in damn near any condition) for 100% credit and while picking up the freight both ways...
I think you get the idea.

So, for Montezuma's Ferrari, I had the bright idea of funding a book project on the well-known motorsports model. Or, in other words, with sponsorships and advertising. And, as many of you know, it worked incredibly well, got us the seed money we needed to publish Montezuma's Ferrari and do a little advertising, traveling and promotion in the bargain. Not to mention a few write-ups in the publishing-trade press and giving us the wherewithall to buy back the rights and remaining copies of the first book from St. Martin's Press (who'd pretty much given up on it by then). BTW, The Last Open Road is now heading into its TENTH (!!!) hardcover printing with something like 50,000 copies sold...

In any case, I'm proud to say that "novel" idea also won Montezuma's Ferrari a Benjamin Franklin "Book of the Year" award that year for "innovation in publishing and marketing" and represented a bit of a new wrinkle in the book-publishing business.

So what has all of this got to do with anything???
Read on:

My original audiobook concept was to have 1950s-style radio ads between the chapters of The Last Open Road (some real period ads

some paid ads for actual TLOR audiobook sponsors and advertisers plus some of our usual, crazy-bullshit "WTF???"ads just for the blessed fun of it. I thought it would also be a great way to raise the necessary budget dollars to defray the costs of talent compensation, production, manufacturing and, of course, spreading the word once the project was finished.
But it was Carol who pointed out that such a thing might easily interrupt and interfere with the flow of the narrative. "Break the spell," if you will.
And damn if she wasn't right.
So we've had a rethink and have decided to try something else instead. We're currently looking at having one or two "Presenting Sponsors" (I'm thinking something like $3000 each) who will be featured prominently on the packaging and have an actual, professionally produced audio commercial for their product, service or organization at the beginning and at the end of the completed production.
Beyond that, we have 19 chapters in the book, and we're going to solicit sponsors for each chapter ("Chapter One: The Old Man's Sinclair, brought to you by...") at $500 each. These sponsors can be individuals, businesses, products, services, clubs, race teams, shops, co-sponsoring groups of friends, memorials...whatever.
I'm hoping they'll want to get involved because:
a) they like the books
b) they want the exposure
c) it's never been done before
d) we've got a proven product with a really enthusiastic following in the motorsports and classic-car communities, and an opportunity for it to reach a whole new (and potentially far larger and moreover world-wide) group of people
d) it will be FUN!

That's it in a nutshell. And, even though we're many months away from a finished product, I thought I'd get the concept out there and see what kind of response it elicits. Or suggestions. Or sputtering, fuming outrage. Or????
So let us know.
And wish us a little luck, too...
Like I said, it's never been done before.


Let's make this short, OK?
1) The long-overdue reprint of my A Potside Companionshort-story anthology is finally (!!!) on the way. Don't really want to go into all the frustrations and setbacks (outdated programs, the files I really needed were in a junked hard drive and on zip discs--remember them?--destroyed in our flood several years back, etc.) but the bottom line is that I had to scan in and rebuild each frickin' page from scratch. None of it was really all that difficult, just dreary, time-consuming & soul-sucking. I remember telling someone it was "like re-painting the Great Wall of China."
But it's finally done, looks decent and there are even a few minor tweaks and improvements.
So we'll have copies in hand late next week or beginning of the week after and, for those who have them on order, we'll begin shipping immediately. For those of you who have never read the short-story book, ask anyone who has. I personally think it's the funniest one of all (particularly if you're a racer or involved almost anywhere in the automobile or car-shop business). Here's a link for ordering:

2) Signings & Sightings: Look for me and all the books at:

The book-signing areas at The Amelia Island Concours, Amelia Island, FL, March 11-13

In the Sebring Hall of Fame Museum at the west end of the paddock (near the entrance to pit lane) at the 12 Hours of Sebring, Sebring, FL, March 17-19.

See you there????


Our last trivia question concerned the shot below, taken at Road Atlanta, and asked exactly what sort of car I was in and who the gent on the left might be.

Once again, correct answers literally poured in from Canada, a few from here in The States and none whatsoever from the UK. Nyahhh! In any case (as many of you Canadian types knew), I'm sitting in the awesome Sadler Mk. V, which was arguably the first "sports car special" with a big ole Chevy V8 placed behind the driver. Mid-engined racing cars were already beginning to gain favor in 1960 (better balance, potentially superior handling, reduced frontal area, etc.) only there was no affordable/readily available transaxle capable of handling the torque of a hot-rodded Detroit V8.
So Sadler built his own. Sort of. He took a Halibrand quick-change rear end (a rugged & handsome piece that had already proven itself in big-power/high-torque Sprint cars, Indycars and dragsters) and turned the quick-change gears into a clever little two-speed transmission. He figured the torque of the big Chevy would make additional gears superfluous. You could argue with some conviction that it was the seminal Can-Am car. It was also plenty scary at speed, as most aerodynamics of the era came from airplanes, and the Sadler showed a marked inclination to make like an airplane, take off and fly at anything much over 130. I know for a fact that the steering got terribly queasy-light going over the crest towards the end of the Road Atlanta backstraight...
Whoa, did it ever!
The gent standing next to the car is its current owner/driver, my longtime friend and onetime on-track competitor Jack Boxstrom. Being Canadian, he absolutely adores the Sadler. "I want to be buried in it, like a viking in his ship," he'll tell you, only half-joking. And I witnessed a spectacular race between young Canadian/American driving phenom Peter Ryan in a Comstock-entered Mk. V and then-comingman Roger Penske (yes, that one) in his Telar-sponsored Maserati "Birdcage" at Meadowdale many years ago. It was one of the best races I ever saw, and so it's replayed (as it happened and including its rude & dramatic finish) in the new Steamroller II book.


OK, Race-history fans, what sort of car am I bounding over the curbing in (above), what track am I at and (bonus insider question) what sort of record did I set in it at Road America?

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: