O spring Sunday afternoon way back in 1974 — probably at least ten years before you were even born — I absent mindedly grabbed the pair of pliers we kept atop our family’s battered Zenith TV to twist the broken channel dial … and what appeared on the fuzzy black-and-white screen changed my life forever. There, on an episode of ABC’s “Wide World of Sports,” I saw low, fat-tired, open-cockpit cars screaming through the city streets of Monte Carlo, their wings festooned with names like “Elf” and “Shadow” and “John Player Special,” their drivers’ colorful helmets glinting in the sunlight as they flicked tiny steering wheels through a maze-like ribbon of asphalt. I had to blink, rub my eyes. The whole scene seemed preposterous. The setting was too dazzling: an ornate casino, swaying palm trees, high-rise apartments towering above the sparkling Mediterranean sea, Pepsodent-white yachts bobbing in the harbor mere meters away from the furious wheeled combat. For the next hour, I barely moved.
I was already well on my way to being a car nut — my bedroom was full of wheeled models I’d built in my early teens — but that first introduction to Formula 1 Grand Prix racing cemented what would become my lifelong love for automobiles. In fact, it was my passion for F1 (soon I boasted an encyclopedic knowledge of the sport and, after college, I saved up enough to attend my first racing school) that helped me get my foot in the door at Car and Driver magazine. For several months, I worked as an intern for editor David E. Davis, Jr. before he and other staffers left to start this magazine (so in a sense, I’ve come full-circle). I was then lucky enough to be promoted to fill a writing vacancy at C/D, and I haven’t looked back since.
In the ensuing years I’ve written for a wide array of publications — among them, Men’s Journal, Forbes, Sports Illustrated, Los Angeles Magazine, Marlboro’s Unlimited, and many others overseas. Prior to joining AUTOMOBILE, I spent more than a decade as Editor at Large for our sister publication, Motor Trend (and the extraordinary but now-deceased Motor Trend Classic).
Much has changed since my early years turning out copy on an IBM Selectric typewriter. No longer do I have to dig through a library of yellowing press kits to find car info for a road test; every specification I could want is a click away online. Stories I write can appear on our Web site within hours — as opposed to the typical three-month lead time of most print pieces. And something I never foresaw: I’m now regularly in front of a video camera, hosting auto/adventure getaways or performing road tests right from the driver’s seat. So much for leading the quiet, “reclusive” life of a writer.
What hasn’t changed is the invigorating burn in my fingertips that alights every time I get behind the wheel of a brand-new auto model. Three-plus decades in this business haven’t dulled that ardor one gram. As for the Monaco Grand Prix … every time I watch it I still can’t believe what I’m seeing.