Ronald Ahrens

Contributing Writer
Ronald Ahrens

When Automobile launched in 1986, my byline appeared with a sidebar to the cover story written by our founding editor David E. Davis, Jr. What had led me to the magazine was a heavily automobile-flavored childhood: my father raced a modified coupe and late-model stocks on the oval tracks around Omaha, Nebraska, where we lived. My favorite uncle preferred 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, 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 now written for the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, among others. My stories of Detroit history for DBusiness (“Detroit’s Premier Business Journal”) have been running since 2006. I’ve even compiled a couple of reports for Bon Appétit. But while a food-and-wine tour gets 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”) to the Fiat 500 Abarth and aboard a Ducati (“The Tempest and the Teapot”). On assignment for “Three Zero Heroes,” I co-drove the winning BMW X3 in the 2004 Alcan Winter Rally. Teaming again with navigator Peter Schneider, 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. At any rate, as you might guess, there’s no regret about abandoning show biz.

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