Looking at your sport through Autosport – July 27, 1995

October 7, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Autosport 7/27/95

The July 27, 1995 edition of Autosport focuses on the preview for the German Grand Prix. The clash between Michael Schumacher and Damon Hill at the previous round at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone is still on the mind of everyone with predictions being the German GP would be a fight between these two. The Hill/Schumacher battle is topic Nigel Roebuck brings up in his edition of the Fifth Column. Roebuck talks about how the Silverstone incident is another example of how in current times, the trivial is emphasized and everything is analyzed to the oblivion. Roebuck states “…it seems to me sometimes that we journalists are writing more and more about less and less”. Little could Nigel imagine today’s society with blogs, social media, etc.

On the topic of Nigel Roebuck, this issue of Autosport also features Nigel talking with Bernie Ecclestone about Bernie turning Grand Prix racing into what is, enemies he’s made and the people that are greatfull to him, including Michael Schumacher. It’s typical honest, making deals Bernie in the interview with Bernie telling the story as to how he made Schumacher a Benetton driver. He says that Schumacher is worth close to a second a lap comapred to anyone else. With death of Senna the year before at Imola still a hot topic Bernie addresses those who thought the race should have been stopped by saying, “Senna was dead, clinically but he was alive. And why should the race have been stopped?” Bernie also talks about long term planning in F1 calling anyone who starts talking about four years time “an idiot” due to the fast changing world.

Top story in this issue is the Simek team being sold for 250,00 pounds at auction. Some of things that went under the hammer were Jos “The Boss” Verstappen’s S951/001 minus Cosworth engine and gearbox going for 18,000 pounds and Mimmo Schiattarella’s pitboard going for 70 pounds. News also included  recent Clevland Indycar winner Jacques Villeneuve being close to a test with the Williams team and 20 year old Canadian Greg Moore wrapping up the Indy Lights title with three rounds still to run.

One of the great racing series in the world in the 90’s was the DTM/ITC with the likes of Opel, Mercedes and Alfa battling it out in high tech touring cars. This issue covers the DTM round from Diepholz with Michael Bartels sweeping both races in the beautiful orange Jagermeister Alfa. In second in race one was AMG’s young Scottish gun Dario Franchitti.

Two racing Scot’s were featured in back to back articles. Colin McRae and his toys such as his Honda Fireblade and his Monaco apartment were in one story and British Tourning Car star John Cleland talks about going for his second title and his refusal to let his young hotshot teammate James Thompson get in his way.

In the World of Sport section, German Forumla 3 is at Deipholz with Ralf Schumacher sweeping both races and in Club Autosport, hillclimber (and future BMW touring car ace) Andy Priaulx wins his home hillclimb in Guernesy and closes in a RAC title.

The Last Lap column is by the great Denis Jenkinson reflecting on the great Juan Manuel Fangio who had passed away the week before. Jenks calls Fangio gentle and very  human being until he climbed into a racing car, at that point he became in Jenks words “a tiger”. He also talks about the respect Fangio commanded even years after his racing career.

Writing About Cars: Listen, this Blog is Cool, but…..

October 2, 2013 at 11:26 am

I haven’t really discussed this before, but I really need to find a way to write about cars, motorsports, and the hobby for a living. Like, a good, healthy living that doesn’t involve living hand-to-mouth and selling off my collection of mismatched BMW parts. A living that ensures the E30 receives the restoration it deserves and the M3 lives to see 250,000 miles on its original bottom end. That kind of living.

Long ago, I interviewed with Grassroots Motorsports magazine for a job as a reporter/writer. I was offered said job, which prompted a near nervous breakdown of deciding to invest in what I saw as a valuable relationship, or throwing caution to the wind (and said relationship) and moving to Florida to essentially live at Daytona. Did I mention that I would later be fired from the job I was considering giving the gigantic middle finger to while I relocated to Daytona Beach in the middle of a vicious New England winter? Yes, that happened. But the pay was low – really low – and I believed the relationship I had found was far more significant than the opportunity presented by the editorial staff. This decision was validated by my marriage not two weeks ago to an absolutely wonderful woman, but the scars of regret haven’t fully healed.

So what do you do? Well, if you’re like me, you dust off your Linkedin profile and see who might know who in the automotive world. You discover that a native Rhode Islander – right down the road, in fact – is a PR consultant for Porsche’s North American Motorsports team. You get him on the phone, in which he proceeds to tell you that the industry is a barren wasteland and that you better really enjoy making just enough to cover travel expenses while never earning what’s needed to support that restoration three years in the works for your 1987 325is. I don’t doubt the man, but in my phone-call fantasy, he was supposed to tell me he needed an extra set of hands to punch out press releases, set up interviews, and travel to Road Atlanta in a support role. Mere table scraps, and I’d take them. Truth be told, even table scraps are hard to come by, according to him. I’m a realist, but that was hard to digest.

And then you do the sit and wait thing, where you feel like a drug addict coming off of buzzy highs and hope-swallowing lows. After discovering a potential connection worked for one of the major media conglomerates with multiple automotive properties, I sent him my resume at his urging. Grateful, I am, but the excitement of this close connection was quickly subdued by the realization that my information is a mere email – a speck – in a inbox that is as vast as the universe itself, with unknown depths and myriad possibilities for when, if ever, my deets are viewed.  I’m not naive. I hate entitlements. Don’t feel like my profile deserves viewing any more or less than the next guy. But holy God, getting noticed and having a conversation seems like its light-years away after witnessing the effort involved in just finding someone with an email address that doesn’t begin with “info@…..” True, it’s half the battle – and for that, I am grateful – but when most of your mojo is locked up until an in-person meeting is proposed, you begin to understand how a third-string quarterback might feel. If you gave me the ball, you might just see that I can chuck that thing out of the stadium. Sure, my face will get stomped on a few times. But until you get that chance, how will anyone know?

I love writing. I do. I believe I’m good at it. That’s not to say a trip to J-School isn’t required, but I’d be willing to make that leap if someone gave me a sign that the investment is worth it, and that my life won’t turn into that of a starving artist. I look at why my subscription to Car & Driver will never lapse, and that’s because I love reading the columns penned by John Phillips and Peter Egan. Good writing does sell products, and I am hungry to prove my worth at any number of publications. I’m not picky. I’ll bring my own computer, and jump on a plane without hesitation. You want me reviewing a Nissan Versa in South Dakota? Done. Analyzing vinyl seating surface durability in New York City cabs after years of carting millions of gross, disgusting asses? Where are my latex gloves? Interview members of the Green Party about their hatred of horsepower? Heck, I’ll even wear a Prius button just to set the mood.

I’m sure there are thousands of gearheads and writers who would answer yes to those questions as well. But you’ve got to respect the guy who came up with them in the first place.

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