When Automobile launched in 1986, my byline appeared on a sidebar to the cover story written by our founding editor David E. Davis, Jr. Yet it wasn’t inevitable that I’d write for the magazine, even though my childhood was heavily automobile-flavored: my father raced jalopies and late-model stock cars on the oval tracks around Omaha, Nebraska, where we lived, and my favorite uncle liked drag racing and hot rods.
After earning a B.A. in English from the University of Nebraska, I moved to Los Angeles to become a screenwriter. Instead, though, I ended up holding cue cards on TV shows, including the soap opera Days of Our Lives. My first magazine story, the inside scoop on how we prepared those cue cards, appeared with my own photos in Soap Opera Digest.
In my freelance career, I’ve written for Bon Appétit, the Wall Street Journal, and many others. I started corresponding for the Automobiles desk at the New York Times in 2010, which is proving to be a great relationship. As a change of pace, my historical column for DBusiness (“Detroit’s Premier Business Journal”) has run since 2006. But while a food-and-wine tour can get boring after a couple of days, nothing beats a call from Automobile. I’ve been behind the wheel of everything from a Ferrari 458 Italia (“Blood Red to Goodwood,” March 2011) to the Fiat 500 Abarth. On assignment for “Three Zero Heroes,” I co-drove the winning BMW X3 in the 2004 Alcan Winter Rally. Teaming again with the same navigator, we won the 2006 Carolina Trophy, bulldogging a 1951 Chrysler Saratoga to the finish for “Substance over Style.”
Other assignments have placed me not only in the driver’s seat of a Porsche 911 Targa for the 2002 Targa Newfoundland, a plummy nod that seemed to indicate my editors’ favor, but also in the co-driver’s seat of a Class 1 buggy for the 2003 Baja 1000, suggesting they wanted me dead.
As you might guess, there’s no regret about failing as a screenwriter. And now I’m beginning something new: teaching automotive journalism at Art Center College of Design, in Pasadena. My workshop, Creating Content for Automotive Media, launched in 2012 and will be offered twice a year. I look forward to helping students along on their way to incomparable automotive adventures and working with the best editors in the business.