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Preston Lerner

Preston Lerner

Contributing Writer
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Preston Lerner
According to family lore, “car” was the first non-essential word in my vocabulary, and I was able to identify every automobile on the road by the time I was 5. Of course, this is the standard backstory for virtually every car guy I know. What was unusual about my case was that my infatuation with cars came out of nowhere. There were no car guys in my family, no race fans, nobody in the automobile industry, and growing up in New York City, none of my friends shared my passion. But something about cars in general, and racing in particular, captured me as a kid and continues to energize me to this day.

Back in the ’60s, racing wasn’t covered in the newspaper, much less on TV. So I learned about the sport through books. The first was Phil Hill: Yankee Champion. Much later, Phil Hill himself confided to me that he hated the admittedly simplistic biography, but I was so taken with the romantic tales of Masers and D-Jags that I stole the book from an elementary school classmate. (Belated apologies, Lee Odden!) This led to Jim Clark at the Wheel, Daredevils of the Speedway and, best of all, Parnelli. Before long, I was reading Rob Walker’s Grand Prix reports in Road & Track, Pete Lyons’ Formula 1 coverage in AutoWeek and, after discovering a bookstore on East 56th Street in midtown Manhattan that carried British racing magazines, Denis Jenkinson’s idiosyncratic columns in Motor Sport.

My interest in cars waned when I went to college and began working as a newspaper reporter. But in 1984, I happened to be at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram when the Dallas Grand Prix brought F1 to Texas. The sports department wasn’t interested in the event, so I volunteered to do all the advance coverage. Carroll Shelby was serving as the honorary race director. I met him just before winning a media race at the local outpost of Malibu Grand Prix. (Thereafter, Shelby always told me, not very convincingly, “Preston, you should have been a race car driver.”) Shelby later introduced me to his friend, artist Bill Neale, and Neale was kind enough to introduce me to David E. Davis. Eventually, David E. persuaded Jean Jennings to assign me a story, and I’ve been working for the magazine ever since.

articles by Preston Lerner

2016 Acura NSX Front Three Quarter
2015 Detroit Auto Show

2016 Acura NSX: The Game Changer

It’s more like the original Acura NSX than you’d think.
| Jan 12, 2015
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Tudor United SportsCar Championship racing car profile
Car Magazine

The Tudor United SportsCar Championship: United, but Not Unified

A tough start for the combined racing series.
| Dec 15, 2014
2014 BMW M4 Front Three Quarter View In Motion 2
Car Magazine

289 Miles in Wisconsin in a 2015 BMW M4

A tale of two Midwestern road circuits.
| Nov 12, 2014
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Amelia Island Concours d Elegance

Batmobiles: BMW's Ultimate Racing Machines

The race cars that cemented BMW’s reputation in the United States.
| Jun 18, 2014
View Photo Gallery
Mazda6 Diesel Racecar
Road Tests

(Quietly) Racing the Mazda 6 Diesel

The 6 is Mazda’s stealth vehicle.
| Apr 28, 2014
View Photo Gallery
Chip Ganassi at desk
Car Magazine

Bull’s-Eye: A Conversation with Chip Ganassi

From Indy to Daytona, Ganassi is the owner other teams aim to beat.
| Apr 25, 2014
1988 Porsche 911 Turbo with 2014 Porsche 911 Turbo
Car Magazine

Then vs. Now: 1988 Porsche 911 Turbo vs. 2014 911 Turbo S

The original Porsche 911 Turbo is like a horror flick that terrified you as a kid but seems almost quaint when you watch it as an adult.
| Apr 10, 2014
View Photo Gallery
Luke Lambert Profile Photo
Car Magazine

Top Geek: NASCAR's Luke Lambert

Leading a new breed of technically savvy crew chiefs.
| Apr 01, 2014
Auto Racing

Silver Bullets

Silver Arrows face off for the first time since 1939.
| Jan 28, 2013
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Car Awards

2013 Racing Car of the Year: Ben Bowlby's Revolutionary DeltaWing

The Nissan DeltaWing is Automobile Magazine's slam-dunk Racing Car of the Year.
| Nov 01, 2012
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News & Rumors

Busman's Holiday

What do real racers do on an off weekend? They go racing-in really bad race cars.
| Sep 19, 2012
View Photo Gallery
News & Rumors

American Ace: Joey Hand

Driving for BMW, Joey Hand takes on the DTM German racing series.
| Aug 15, 2012
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