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It's a sure sign of advancing age when your brain starts turning to cow dung and even seemingly vivid, intricately detailed past memories get all mixed up and swirled around like a school of colorful tropical fish in a food processor. Which is just a sideways way of saying that I errata-ed yet once the damn ERRATA section of our last e-blast!
Can you effing believe it?
Okay, who moved my cheese?

Thanks to longtime friend, Amelia Island housemate (his house, too, even if it is a rental!) and iconic Voice of Lime Rock Park racetrack announcer Greg Rickes (whom I will never, ever forgive for bringing it to my attention), I screwed up yet again on the Bob Bodin Ferrari 250 SWB Berlinetta tale. Or, more correctly, on the OTHER (and rather unusual) racecar mentioned in the story. Seems I somehow managed (OH, THE SHAME OF IT!) to  mis-identify Bob's other racecar as the one-off Philson Falcon special (pic below), which has a plebeian but nonetheless unusual Ford Falcon straight 6 under the hood (on three SU carburetors, no less!) and was built and raced by machinist/USAC tech inspector Norb Philson back in the late 1950s. It is currently owned and campaigned (with commendable vigor, I might add) by a gentleman named Charles BORDIN.

Meanwhile, Bob BODIN (the Ferrari 250 SWB Belinetta guy, remember) runs the Devin-bodied, Chevy V8-powered, slightly later-vintage RYAN Special (see photo below) in many of the same races:

And it so happens that both of them (plus me, driving one of Syd Silverman's excellent Lister Jags...see pics below, I think from my Canadian friend/ace shooter Bob Harrington) were all in the same blessed race group together at the gorgeous and challenging Mount Tremblant track in Canada something like a decade ago. Or maybe more? But, what with a lot of time having passed and their names being so similar and the ravages of age and hard living and the blood flow to my brain having slowed to a pathetic trickle, I got it all confused and discombobulated.
But I am sure it IS me in the #38 Lister!

As I recall, it was a pretty good race. Seems to me I got the jump on our Vintage Connection team leader/car preparer/pole-sitter John Harden's Lister-Corvette at the start and actually took the lead into Turn One. But John thundered past again as soon as the road straightened out (hey, that's what a few hundred extra horsepower will do for you) and then I wound up in one hell of a fen dice with Bob Gett's Lola Mk. 1 (NOT the Lotus Eleven shown above, so hold those annoying corrective e-mails). Here's me with Bob Gett's Lola right behind and close enough to polish the Lister's tail-light lenses:

It was your classic horsepower  versus handling scrap, and I think I got the better of it on Saturday and he beat me fair and square on Sunday. Or maybe I've got that backwards? Or maybe it didn't happen at all? No, WAIT...I've got PICTURES!!!
Give me a few more years and a few more beers and I'll have won every blessed race I've ever driven!
It'll be a whole lot easier to remember it all that way...

OK, so just about everybody worth knowing knows that we're about done recording, editing and fine-polishing to a high-concept sheen the much-ballyhooed [particularly in these here newsletters], radio-play AUDIOBOOK version of The Last Open Road. We've even got some excerpts posted where you can give them a listen on YouTube:

And if you are subsequently moved to become a greatly appreciated sponsor (or just want to pre-order a copy so you can be the first person on your block to enjoy the audio story) try checking in at:

We await you (see pic below) like creepy Count Dracula, played by Bela Lugosi, awaited unsuspecting real-estate broker R. M. Renfield in the original 1931 black-and-white classic. BTW, the Renfield character was played by Dwight Frye, who also incidentally played Dr. Frankenstein's hunchbacked lab assistant Fritz--you remember, the clumsy klutz who dropped The Good Brain on the floor?--in another seminal 1930's monster movie from Universal.

But the point here, if I indeed have one, is that we're relentlessly hawking audiobook sponsorships and pre-orders because we can really use the doughski. Production costs on the audiobook are hovering near six figures (are you kidding me?) but we think it's gonna be a HUUUGE hit. Not to mention that, like the book on which it's based, the new audiobook figures to be around, carrying your name, fame and/or message, for a long, long time.

Personal/business/club, gang & dedication sponsorships are available at a paltry $250 each. That gets your personal, group or business name read in the credits PLUS a copy of the numbered, suede-bound, cloisonne medallion 25th Anniversary Collector's Edition (a $100 retail value all by itself) PLUS your personal, group, etc. name recorded for all time (or at least until the earth plummets into the sun) on the "Audiobook Sponsor" page in the color section of the new (and all future) editions of The Last Open Road.Such a deal.

And we've still got a few high-roller/corporate-bigshot $3000 chapter sponsorships available, which include "Chapter so-and-so brought to you by [insert your company name/message here]" PLUS an up to 60-second video message/commercial that will be on the bonus video file/DVD disc that comes with every audiobook copy PLUS a full-page ad in the color section of the new, 25th anniversary edition--and all future printings!--of The Last Open Road. Just give us a call at (708) 383-7203 or email us at and we'll happily put you in touch with one of our pleasant, low-key, ex-cold-call life-insurance salesman Customer Service professionals (see pic below):

End of Pitch. We now return you to our story:

Hot Tubs, Bikini Babes, Daytona Bikers, bunking with a Famous Brit, Book Signing at Sebring and a Space Shot!

As you may recall from the last e-blast, Joe Gearin and I enjoyed an almost embarrassingly magnificent day beating the living crap out of (pardon me, make that "road testing, evaluating and enjoying") a selection of upper-bracket sporting transport modules from Larry Wilson's excellent collection (see reminder pic below & eat your heart out that you weren't there):

So after we left Larry's incredible compound, we headed back north to Joe's brother's lovely waterfront place on Merritt Island again (notice I haven't paid for any lodging yet at all!), where we relaxed in the hot tub with a few fermented beverages, looked up at the stars and/or across the water to where the boat lights and dock lights shimmered on the opposite shore and solved all the world's problems. Wish I could remember the brilliant solutions we came up with (isn't that always the way?) but I slept like Shakespearean forest elves had dusted my eyelids with pixie dust...

Come morning (it's Tuesday now, in case you're trying to make chronological sense of this), we headed north towards Daytona, where Joe lives in a sort of vehicle and vehicular-project dense bachelor-pad of a house on high ground (in Florida, 12 feet above sea level qualifies as High Ground) just across the Inland Waterway from the famous Daytona Beach beach. Occurred to me that I hadn't exercised for a few days, so we pumped up the tires on a couple semi-crusty mountain bikes, loaded them on the back of Joe's van and headed across a nearby bridge so we could take a wee ride along the ocean. Joe made an excellent, local-expert tour guide, and pointed out the small, unassuming, pastel-turquoise hotel where Big Bill France"s very first NASCAR organizational meeting took place way back in 1947. They held their first race on the rutted sand of Daytona Beach the following February and the rest, as they say, is history...

And then came a most memorable ride along the beach. 
Did I mention it was SPRING BREAK???
Which means that, besides the usual, unkempt sine wave of kelp spinach decorating the tide line, the graceful, soaring seagulls that crap where they please, scampering little shore birds leaving their fidgety little tracks across the sand, pretty little sea shells still half-full of putrefying sea critters, leathery, surf-casting fishermen and plodding, tanned-and-wrinkled fitness-walker retirees, the beach was populated by clots, herds, swarms and gaggles of...COLLEGE KIDS!!! And what a delight to see all those eager young men in their baggy beach shorts, wraparound sunglasses hiding bright and/or bloodshot eyes and gee-whiz, beer-addled smiles, all playing beach volleyball or frolicking in the surf or passed out face-down in the sand. Or just hanging around with (and of course trying to impress or make time with) an impressive crop of occasionally gob-smackingly attractive young women. It was hard to ignore all the smooth, tanned (or occasionally sunburned) skin and taut, springy young muscles. Plus other anatomical and/or topographical features I need not describe. Use your freaking imagination.
Better yet, many of those lovely young ladies--even the somewhat hefty ones--were attired in oft-miniscule  beachwear that, if valued by the square inch, would be dearer by far than the hammered gold leaf seen layered over the pincushion tops and top-floor parapets of exotic eastern temples.
For a grizzled old fart like yrs. trly., the hard part was not getting distracted and pedaling into solid objects (fortunately there's not much to hit out on the beach) or causing myself a case of self-inflicted whiplash from snapping my head around left-to-right and back again, trying not to miss anything...
You guys out there know exactly what I'm talking about.
And if any readers of the female persuasion think that makes me a dirty old man, may I be the first to enlighten you: it makes me a very ordinary sort of man, and quite typical of both gender and species.
Hey, it's the way we come from the factory...
I mean, alls I wuz doin' was lookin', y'know?
Same way you womenfolk look at slinky, deep-vee Halston dresses you could never wear or afford or stratospherically priced Gucci handbags and Jimmy Choo shoes in the shop windows on Michigan Avenue (or Fifth Avenue or Rodeo Drive or wherever). Same as us macho-male types pine wistfully through plate-glass showroom windows at crotch-rocket motorcycles and exotic European cars we could likewise never afford (and couldn't do much more than hand off to the parking attendants at swanky restaurants if we actually owned them).
The magic is all in the dreaming and imagining, n'est ce pas?
Or, as wife Carol is always quick to remind me: "If you ever actually got your hands on a piece of equipment like that, you wouldn't know what to do with it."
And right there is why we're still [most usually] happily married after 45 years. She gets me. Mouth, ego, arrogance, impudence, aspirations, inspirations, affectations, idiocies, irritations, ill humors, willful stupidities, bull-in-a-china-shop sense of delicacy and coordination, farts, warts, ear hair and all. And now that it's opened, let's let that last sentence breathe awhile...

But there was more going on in Daytona Beach than leggy, bosomy college babes in skimpy swimsuits and frat boys spiking volleyballs or passed out face-down in the sand, on account of it was also:
Now like most of you, I had heard tales, tall tales and even taller yet tales about Bike Week in Daytona Beach, but I had never actually experienced it in person. And may I simply say that if you haven't been to Bike Week in Daytona, you have missed a tribal, cultural and sociological phenomenon of stupefying scope, style and sound. As I discovered firsthand when Joe and I pedaled due west from the beach on Main Street (the main drag in Daytona Beach), crawling along at the brisk pace of an octogenarian with a walker while elbow-to-elbow and tire-to-taillight-lens in a throbbing, wobbling, revving, backfiring, eyeball-to-pierced-earlobe and chrome stud-to-leather saddlebag fringe parade of Harleys, Harley lookalikes and Harley wannabees. On our freakin' bicycles!
Hey, did we look tough or what?
On either side were bristling, sardine-pack phalanxes of crash bar-to-side-pipes Harleys and Harley pretenders parked two- and three-deep down both sides of the street--hell, you could hardly get a feeler gauge in between them!--and not a cafe racer, set of clip-on bars or rear-set foot pegs in sight. Everywhere you looked you saw gleaming chrome headlamp nacelles and passenger sissy bars, wide, tuck-and-roll highway seats, wide or ape-hanger handle bars and fuel-tank art that invariably included grinning, menacing, death's-head skulls, scantily clad, impressively proportioned, Frank Franzetta-style women with incredibly large hooters and the Stars and Stripes. Or the Stars and Bars. Or both.

And behind all the bikes, the sidewalks and intersections were clogged with sauntering, strutting, staggering or meandering, elbow-to-armpit squadrons of bikers, gawkers and onlookers. Old-school rock blasted out of open-air bars and huge, trade-show-style, biker-oriented consumer displays pandered relentlessly down both sides of the street. The whole scene was like a teeming anthill of V-twin bikes and biker types of every description...
Only they really don't come in "of every description," do they? There's Harley, and there's wannabe Harley, and when it comes to attire and accessories, there's black, and then there's black. And as far as material goes, there's denim, and there's leather. With the orange H-D logo and maybe a bandana-style headband for color? And surely tattoos. And facial hair (yeah, most of it is gray and grizzled these days--and a lot has gone missing on top--but it does make a statement). And that statement is: hey, this is an aging crowd. No two ways about it. But they love their freedom and camaraderie and individuality, and the majority have craftily avoided the popular, pansy-ass health-and-fitness craze that's been eating away at the manly, core-American diet regimen of barbecue, bacon, anything fried in lard or butter fat and all of it washed down with plenty of beer. Why, that's what's made this country what it is today! Which is to say F-A-T (and maybe even sniffing around a bit of kidney disease or sudden cardiac arrest?).
Yeah, there were some V-shaped torsos and big, impressive muscles on display in Daytona. Particularly biceps. But also an avoirdupois of ample beer bellies. LOTS of them. And there does come a time when your Old Lady shouldn't be wearing fishnet any more. Not when her thighs are coming through the webbing like suet...
But, hey, they all came to have a good time, and you can't miss the sense of belonging and tribal kinship. And good for them. Plus I didn't see much in the way of old-style, The Wild One biker behavior where guys start pounding the living crap out of each other just for the joyous fun of it. Quick trivia: what make and model motorcycle did Marlon Brando ("Johnny") ride in The Wild One? OK, and how about Lee Marvin ("Chino") as the leader of the rival gang? And what were the names of the two motorcycle gangs in that movie, anyway? Inquiring minds want to know.

Bottom line is that most all the Bike Week attendees/participants I observed seemed happy  just to be there, mingling with like-minded, similarly groomed-and-attired folks, maybe sharing a few drinks or whatever, listening to some seriously loud rock music (hey, I love Bob Seeger, too) and jawing back-and-forth about their bikes and their biker friends back home and the great rides they've taken together and all the usual legal, illegal, matrimonial and medical stuff we all catch ourselves jawing about once we reach a certain age. They're having fun! And also helping to perpetuate their own, special, "Last American Cowboy" rituals, mystique and mythology. And who am I to judge? Hell, one dimly remembered night many years ago I was actually refused entrance to the infamous Boot Hill Saloon in Daytona Beach on account of the bouncer at the door thought I was too drunk to enter. Can you believe it?
Now the Boot Hill is kind of an institution in Daytona Beach (you can find it at 310 E. Main Street), and since it sits directly across the street from a real, live cemetery, its motto has always been: "you're better off here than across the street."
To be fair to the bouncer who refused me entry, I must admit I'd had a bit to drink at the racetrack (can't remember if it was because I was celebrating a noble and heroic race or if it was one of those mean, grumbling, "the damn car's busted and we don't have the parts or tools here to fix it" deals), but the point is I'd already had a few libations and  suffered a wee moment of alcohol-engendered equilibrium uncertainty while making my way down the sidewalk. Nothing unusual there...but I also damn near knocked down an entire row of Harleys and almost-Harleys parked at curbside in front of the entrance. As I recall, racer friend Bob Blain and my highly accomplished, mechanical-genius friend Greg Ellef were with me that night (among other things, Greg was crew chief for the Paul Newman/Dick Barbour/Rolf Stommelen Porsche 935 when they damn near won it all at Le Mans in 1979) and they both are quick to remind me of that night every damn time they see me. Which is probably a good thing, since I don't remember it too well. And it does serve as a bit of a metaphorical lighthouse beacon to warn me off the rocks and shoals of excessive consumption and resultant clumsy, cloddish, boorish behavior.

Joe and I did about 8 miles in and around Daytona Beach that day, then drove north again to pick up Joe's TR6 at his folks house. We went out to a nice Italian dinner (think I finally picked up a check) and we stayed there overnight (once again, no lodging bill!). Next morning early I took off towards Sebring and my final Florida spring-break adventure.

Finally had to pay for a cheap motel that night a ways south of the track (rooms anywhere close to Sebring are both rare and dear on the weekend of The 12 Hour) and then it was off to the track in the morning (it's Thursday now) to get set up for book signing & audiobook pre-order and sponsorship pimping in the Sebring Hall of Fame Museum in company with David Hobbs, Hurley Haywood and Haywood co-author/biographer Sean Cridland (see poster below)

It went pretty well for all three of us. Although Sebring, as always, was Sebring and Hurley was beginning to realize that things are a little different away from the hot pits and race-team trailers he's used to. See pic below, which is fairly typical of what goes on at Sebring.

Better yet (and most likely because they thought wife Carol was coming), I had an invitation to stay with David & Maggs Hobbs while I was down there. It was a bit of a drive each day, but the company, stories and hospitality were wonderful. And then we were out on the patio one night and David suddenly leaped up and pointed to the sky. Sure enough, it was a space vehicle of some sort launching from Cape Canaveral, about 40 miles up the coast. What a sight! Just this fanned-out blowtorch of a flame against the nighttime sky! And it was close to a minute later that the sound finally reached us. Rumbled right up through the ground, it did.

Look for yet another e-blast (maybe as soon as next week?) covering my first track events of the new season, including hopping into a genuine ShitBox BMW in the rain at the Lemons race at Autobahn, instructing an eager MGB rookie at the VSCDA Drivers' School at Gingerman and a fine Morgan drive (including a nifty class win) and attracting some cool old cars and an entirely new and highly pneumatic clientele to my book-signing stall (see pic below) at the HSR Walter Mitty Challenge at Road Atlanta:

BTW, if you ignored the opportunity previously, I beseech you:
And then, if you are sufficiently moved, click this here one:


May 14th: Interview with Mark Greene on CARS YEAH

May 11th: Lou's party. If you don't know what it is, you don't know what it is.

May 17-20 @ Road America: Working my usual spot in the fabulous, elegant, expansive & moreover QUIET & AIR CONDITIONED Road America Paddock Shop and desperately seeking cars to co-drive and write about under the thoroughly transparent pretext of "writing magazine stories about them") during the SVRA's spring vintage weekend.

May 25th: Spamstock! If you don't know what it is, you don't know what it is.

May 26 on Chicago's magnificent lakefront: Weather co-operating, Carol and I (and some 30,000 other avid cyclists) will once again be doing a 30-mile loop of Chicago's scenic Lake Shore Drive at the charity Bike The Drive event in Chicago. Then we go out for breakfast and watch the Indy 500 on the Big Screen. Then home to watch the Monaco GP on tape.

May 31-June 2nd in Bloomington, IL: Incredible as it may seem, the Champagne British Car Festival
(click to view their website) has engaged me as Honorary Chairman and Saturday night banquet speaker for their wonderful annual event. You can tell they were hard up for talent. I'll be doing a mixed-media PowerPoint show conjured up especially for this audience (diehard British-car junkies who simply don't know any better) and it will hopefully be illuminating, entertaining and enlightening. Or it will if I can just keep myself at least twenty feet away from the cocktail bar beforehand.

June 14-16: Hawking books & hopefully driving something at VSCDA Blackhawk.

June 21-23: Book signing in the Road America Paddock Shop during the Indycar Weekend.

June 29-30: If I can find another sucker with a car, Lemons endurance racing at Gingerman!



Ashamed that none of you pegged the Ray Evernham "Ghost," shown below. If you haven't heard about it, you will. It's analog and it's AWESOME! Full poop coming, but it's one hell of a fast, cool racecar.

And now this little beauty. Dan Kirby answered correctly before the e-blast electrons even fully settled into his computer. But once again the persistently and predictably pedantic (and infuriatingly accurate) Bob Allen told the story in full. And then some. His answer is below:

The Bugatti Type 251 F1 car, originally built in 1955 but not raced until the following year. It raced only once, in the 1956 French Grand Prix at Rheims, where it was driven by Maurice Trintignant, qualified 18th out of 20 and apparently handled terribly. "Le Petoulet" was probably relieved when it retired after 18 uncompetitive laps with a broken throttle pedal.
What made it significant? Aside from the technical novelties below, this would be Bugatti's only World Championship entry.
In some ways this was a great lost cause because this car had a lot going for it, including:-
  • A mid-mounted engine two years before Cooper showed the way with the T43 (granted Porsche/von Eberhorst did it with the Auto Unions pre-war but few followed their lead)
  • A transversely mounted engine: O.k. that wasn't universally adopted in F1 but Honda did it for the RA271, their first F1 car to race and winner of the last 1½ L (unblown) GP. And the configuration has become the norm in road cars
  • Inboard rocker-operated/pushrod suspension which became de rigueur years later, as were its side-mounted fuel tanks
  • A novel adjustable-plane crank, the idea being to tune the engine's torque characteristics to individual circuits (Chapman never thought of that - Ha!)
  • Design by Gioacchino Colombo who achieved so much more success with Alfa Romeo, Ferrari and MV Agusta
It really deserved a lot better but was largely hampered by EB's insistence on beam axles (!) and a disappointing power output. 'Pity - with decent development it could have been not only a contender but a trend-setter.

Well said. A little windy maybe, but well said.

And now:


Who is this dude? In what car? Where? When?

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: