"Years later, after I went to Car and Driver, I called my folks on a Sunday afternoon. My dad talked to me for a minute and he said, 'Your Uncle Jim is here and he wants to talk to you.' And he came on the phone and he said, 'David?' And I said, 'Yes, sir?' And he said, 'They tell me you're setting the woods on fire up there, boy.' And I said, 'Well, the magazine is going pretty good and I'm pretty excited about it.' I said, 'I think this could be a career.' He said, 'Well, goddamn, you're doing good. Everybody's real proud of you.' And that was the closest my father ever got to paying me a compliment.
"Early on, when I didn't finish college and when I was driving race cars and dating women who were twice my age, they were really sick of me. My sister did everything right -- got her doctorate, got married. I was an enormous disappointment.
"I sold VWs, Porsches, MGs, Triumphs, Jaguars, and Singers, but I wasn't good at it. I shot the breeze with everybody, and I talked too much. If somebody came in and bought a car, they convinced themselves to write the check. I was not a great closer."
Life in California
"I was married [to high-school sweetheart Norma Jean Wohlfiel] in June of 1955, and we moved to California. Very bright, very tough, she'd been a competitive swimmer and had been living in California with some girlfriends. She wanted desperately to live there, so we moved there on our honeymoon. I was stunned at how fabulous California was; it was just one fantastic thing after another.
"I went to work as an expeditor at North American [Aviation] and was having the time of my life. I met a bunch of racing people, and there were three SCCA nationals going, and I thought if I was to do well in all of them, I could come away with some kind of production prize nationally. And so I prepared the car and was getting ready to do all three of them.