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

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Editors Notebook

2012 Hyundai Veloster DCT

The Veloster is all about style.
| Nov 30, 2011
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Car Awards

2012 Automobile Magazine All-Stars

The 2012 All Stars are our answers to the question: What's the best car?
| Nov 09, 2011
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News & Rumors

The Chevrolet 100

The cars, people, technologies, events, and milestones that have marked Chevrolet's 100 years.
| Nov 03, 2011
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News & Rumors

Riley Mark XXII: Can we interest you in a fake Rolex?

It looks like a Daytona Prototype. But it's faster -- and half the price.
| Oct 18, 2011
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Features

Last Call for the Lincoln Town Car

Its decades-long reign as the king of New York's so-called "black car" industry is finally coming to an end.
| Jun 22, 2011
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News & Rumors

Reverse Engineering

One man's quest to re-create a famous race car.
| May 27, 2011
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Gene Winfield Rod & Custom
News & Rumors

Winfield Rod & Custom

At 83, Gene Winfield is still on top of the custom-car world.
| Apr 29, 2011
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Daytona 500
Auto Racing

10 Years After

With the death of Dale Earnhardt, NASCAR lost more than a superstar.
| Feb 01, 2011
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Auto Racing

DeltaWing Race Car Concept

Looks like a plane and ought to go like a bat out of hell.
| Sep 02, 2010
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News & Rumors

Bad Boy Porsches: R Gruppe Car Club

A quasi-underground group that proves hot rods don't have to pack V-8's.
| Aug 04, 2010
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Auto Racing

Simona De Silvestro: Rookie No More

Swiss youngster hopes to be the first female racer to make people forget she's not one of the boys.
| Jul 20, 2010
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2010 Suzuki Kizashi

Suzuki motorcycles have always offered technological innovation and emotional connection.
| May 28, 2010
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Auto Racing

Speed TV Shows - Speed Screed

SPEED is a great idea for a television network.
| May 20, 2010
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News & Rumors

2010 Nissan Sentra SE R Spec V

Under Carlos Ghosn, Nissan has always been about numbers first and foremost, whether profit margins and sales figures or torque ratings and 0-60 times.
| May 20, 2010
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Peter Brock
News & Rumors

Peter Brock: The Prodigy

Inside the head of the man who sketched the Corvette Sting Ray, put Nissan on the U.S. map, and continues to expand his legend.
| May 10, 2010
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