This link is currently down
thanks to the legal types at NBC,
who apparently think we're
trying to get away with something.
We're trying to figure out what?
Vintage Motorsport Magazine
(read more award-winning
"BS" in every issue!)
(great audio interviews with the movers, shakers, makers and miscreants of motoring history)
The Vintage Racing League
(a web community of people who love and race cars)
(great stuff for lovers of European cars and motorcycles)
CRAIG BENNETT UPDATE
As you all know, Craig was pretty badly injured (14 fractures plus a crushed L5 vertebra) in a serious accident at Road Atlanta reported in the last e-blast. He was driving the same Shadow DN4 Can-Am car I'd mooched a ride in the day before, and he had to be air-lifted to the local trauma center and kept under heavy sedation for eleven days (mostly to keep him from moving while the doctors dealt with his injuries) but he's back home in Michigan now and the news is pretty good. He's confined to a wheelchair and has a bunch of new internal hardware & fasteners (all of it surely Grade 8 or better!) but he's already embarked on a difficult and extended but entirely doable rehabilitation program. Prognosis at this point is for a full recovery, which is excellent! The doctors plan for him to begin working out with a walker by the end of June and to be walking on his own sometime in August.
He also plans to be serving as crew chief when the RM Motorsports team (including his dad Bud, wife Leah, her mom & dad and the rest of the RM extended family) bring their Shadows to Road America for the much-anticipated Shadow Reunion at this year's sure-to-be-humungous "WeatherTech International Challenge Vintage Races with Brian Redman presented by Hawk" (try saying that one all in one breath!) extravaganza at Road America July 14-17. BTW, the RM shop is hard at work re-restoring the championship-winning Shadow DN4 (see below, pre-accident at Road Atlanta)
Also regarding Road America (not to mention Vintage Motorsport magazine), yrs. trly. picked up three more American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association writing awards this year, including a first-place gold for my event report on last July's big vintage racing spectacular at Road America "Hot Action, Huge Crowds and Heroics at Turn Five." The awards were announced during the exciting run-up to this year's historic 100th running of the Indianapolis 500, and I had entries in three categories. Along with the gold for best event report, I came away with two silvers, one for my appreciation of Dan Gurney column "Dan's My Man" and one for my extensive Bill Thomas Cheetah feature "Bad Rep, Bad Rap or Just Plain Bad Ass?"
You'll find more on the above, including my Mitty Challenge report, my exciting, slightly terrifying drive experience in the exact same Shadow DN4 (fastest racecar I've ever driven!) plus my column about the dangers and risks inherent in all types of motor racing in the upcoming issue of Vintage Motorsport
magazine (click for a subscription, already).
SPEAKING OF ROAD AMERICA:
I'm extremely pleased to report that, thanks to shop manager Julie Sebranek and track president George Bruggenthies (who once let me drive his beloved Lotus 20 Formula Junior under the thoroughly dubious pretext of "writing a magazine story about it"), there will be a permanent, dedicated "Last Open Road Shop" display inside the utterly amazing new Road America gift shop. Wait'll you see this place! It stands in the same general spot as the "old" Road America Gift Shop ("The 4-Mile Merchant"), but it's easily four times bigger and absolutely beautiful inside & out. More what you'd expect from a high-end shopping mall than at a racetrack. And kudos to all the Road America staff and stockholders for aggressively investing in new, state-of-the-art infrastructure and doing everything they can to improve the overall experience for fans and racers alike. Well done!
As to our display, I've been hard at work designing and building for several weeks (as a carpenter, I'm a pretty good motoring journalist!) but I've had some decent help along the way and I expect it to be done this weekend and in place at the track for the big Indycar weekend June 24-26. Maybe even for the June Sprints the weekend before. Don't want to give too much away, but we're trying to capture the visual sense and ambiance of the old Finzio's Sinclair station in Passaic, NJ, where the first novel starts back in the early spring of 1952.
I hope you like it, and further hope that it's the prototype of more to come. We'll see.
In any case, I'll be doing all my future Road America book signings right there at our display in the new Road America gift shop. Or, in other words, tucked comfortably away from all the noise and the heat (or the rain, or the sleet). And don't even get me started on the humidity. Or the mosquitoes that lurk in ambush in the summertime woods.
My sincerest thanks to everyone at Road America--and particularly Julie and George--for this wonderful opportunity.
Hope we all make a pisspot fulla money!!!
AWARDS, ADULATION & UNSEEMLY BRAGGING:
I've been incredibly fortunate with the AARWBA awards over the past few years, what with a 1st, a 2nd and a 3rd in three categories entered in 2012, two 1sts out of two categories entered in 2013 and a 1st and a 3rd in two categories entered in 2014. I'm particularly appreciative since these awards are open to stories covering all types of motorsport--pro, amateur, vintage, road racing, drag racing, oval-track racing, stock cars, Indycars, motorcycles, etc.--and are judged by our peers and colleagues in the motorsports media. Wow.
And now I've probably gotta go shopping for a new, larger helmet to fit my incredibly swelled head...
BUDDY PALUMBO AWARD FOLLOW-UP:
Well, it took awhile, but world traveler/world-class artist/longtime friend and incorrigible vintage racer Bob Colaizzi finally put the finishing touches on his one-of-a-kind Buddy Palumbo Award presented (in spirit if not in final form) at the Amelia Island Concours back in March. Bob's original painting features the rare (only three were built) and absolutely beautiful 1966 Bizzarrini 5300 Spider S.I. prototype of winners Mark & Allison Sassak parked in front of the infamous and thoroughly fictitious FINZIO'S SINCLAIR gas station in Passaic, New Jersey, where The Last Open Road begins in the spring of 1952:
This is the award up where it belongs over the fireplace in Mark & Allison's home in Michigan, and I want to once again congratulate them for all the hard work and painstaking effort they put in--most of it with their own hands--and the excellent and deserving award-winner they created. Well done.
While on the subject of my friend Bob Colaizzi, he's gone and bought himself another racecar--an Alfa this time (if your name ends in a vowel, you really need to be driving an Italian racecar)--and so he'll be eager to pick up a little extra commission artwork to help pay for all the expensive parts he is rather certain to break, blow up or set on fire. Bob drives with both brio and gusto, if you know what I mean...
So here's the deal: Bob can paint your car (or any car you fancy, come to that) in any situation, location, on any racetrack or in front of any building, monument or eighth wonder of the world you may wish. The possibilities are both endless and delicious, and the results make wonderful gifts and mementos.
THE JOYS OF AUTOMOTIVE JOURNALISM:
Speaking once again of Road America, I was up there for the big, blowout MAMA (Midwest Automotive Media Association) "Spring Rallye" two weeks ago, wherein a large bunch of lucky journalists/media types got together with an only slightly smaller group of manufacturers' representatives and PR flacks to see, sample, eveluate & discuss all the latest automotive offerings. Pretty incredible deal, as they put us up at The Osthoff, fed us like guests at a Beverly Hills Bar Mitzvah, entertained us with all sorts of presentations and diversions (go-karting, off-roading, an autocross and an open bar night--I kid you not!--at Siebkens!) and all so we could thrash the living tar out of some REALLY nice new cars on the racetrack (and on the sinewy surrounding back roads) just so's we would hopefully say something nice about them in print or online.
Is this a great job or what????
Favorites? Well, the new Mustang GT350 is a really nice piece of kit. It's taken the old, raw-boned/cheap-underpinnings PonyCar formula and smoothed out all the rough edges. But without screwing up its essence or historical charm and character. Even looks right. And F-U-N to drive. Especially if you're on a racetrack.
FCA's impressive "392"-powered models and 700+ horsepower Hellcat offerings were more in the vein of the original, traditional Detroit musclecars (a little heavy in front and with waaaaay more power than any sane person would ever need) but they certainly are entertaining! The amazing thing is how damn capable, strong & solid they are as well as F-A-S-T. And I can think of no higher compliment than a large bunch of Journalistic Yahoos relentlessly beat the living crap out of them all day long and they didn't so much as break a heavy sweat. Do the same back a half-century when musclecars first appeared and you'd have a silent track and every tow truck in the county mustered by lunchtime.
Such is progress.
I wasn't planning to like the Lexus F-Sport, but it kinda won me over: it's damn fast, nicely appointed and handles pretty good. The Subaru WRX STI is just what you need if you want to run an autocross up the side of a snowy mountain, while the whole blessed VW "sports" lineup (GTI, Golf R and Jetta GLI) are just plain excellent both on and off the racetrack. Great feel, taut, beautifully dampened ride with lots of well-controlled travel and a real quality feel. Now if they only hadn't fudged the damn diesel emissions thing and pissed everybody off....
Loved the Mazda Miata (so what's new) and really liked the Scion FR-S. What fun cars to drive. Speaking of driving, FCA's Alfa Romeo 4c Spider mit Track Pack is terrifically entertaining. Not to mention hot looking. Kind of a Demi-tasse Ferrari 458 for folks not quite into the Ferrari tax bracket yet. Do wish it came with a genuine stick-shift though.
I like playing with my antiquated old pedals and levers. Matching revs on a perfect, all-manual double-clutch/heel-and-toe downshift is a joy! And you effing engineering geeks and marketing fast-talkers have taken it away from me...supposedly in the name of progress. A pox on both your houses (as old Henrey N. Manney used to say).
My favorite of the day? Probably would have to be the Mercedes AMG GTS, which has class, speed, pedigree and refinement to spare (it should at that price!) but which is really far too nice a car for people like me. I mean, what happens when I spill something or need to park in a crappy neighborhood?
Also thoroughly enjoyed the off-roading experience put on by the Land Rover guys. Overnight rain made the course a bit dodgy and, after driving a bunch of different real, quasi, or "in-trim-only" off-roaders, I'd have to say the Range Rover was my favorite (see "it should be at that price" above).
BURT'S UPCOMING SCHEDULE OF CAN'T-MISS & SPECTACULAR SPORTYCAR SOCIAL EVENTS!
(where I will most likely be signing books, of course!)
click the yellow stuff for more info
Sunday, June 12, 8-11am: Fuelfed Open Classic & Crazy-fast Other Cars show in Lake Forest, IL.
Fri-Sun. June 17-19
: VSCDA Blackhawk Classic.
Much fun & lots of gnarly old pre-war & MG T-series racers. Benefits a good cause, too.
Fri.-Sun June 24-26
(AT LAST!): INDYCARS RETURN TO ROAD AMERICA!!!
(Just try getting a blessed hotel room). We'll also be debuting our store-within-a-store "Last Open Road Shop" and hopefully signing LOTS of books.
ODDS & ENDS:
We skipped Indy again this year so's Carol & I could do "Bike the Drive" here in Chicago, and it was a wonderful experience. Weather was perfect, we left home a little after 6 and we were pedaling out of Grant Park (along with about 20 or 30 thousand other bicyclists) by 7:20. We did the whole 32 miles (north to where The Drive ends at Hollywood & Sheridan, then U-Turn & back south all the way to the Museum of Science and Industry, then U-Turn again and back to Grant Park) and I HIGHLY recommend it! Had a nice brunch afterward and got home in time to watch Indy on TV (and then our recording of the Monaco GP in bed that evening...ahhhhh!).
MORE CRASS COMMERCIALISM:
OK, we have something NEW! So new, in fact, that it may not even be up on the website yet. In response to an immense outpouring of popular requests (we had at least as many as two), we are in the process of producing a full-color, full-size, 24x36 "BS Levy/World's Fastest Novelist Ride-Mooching Poster" featuring yr. hmbl. srvnt. caught in the act of missing both shifts and apexes in a truly incredible (and occasionally iconic!) variety of racecars that certain misguided friends, fools and all-day suckers were stupid and/or trusting enough to let me drive. Look closely...your car could be in there!
PLEASE NOTE: IMAGE BELOW IS LO-RES & FUZZY. THE ACTUAL POSTER IS REALLY FINE. SORT OF. IF YOU DON'T LOOK TOO CLOSE. ALSO INCLUDED ARE SOME HIDDEN, INSIDE-JOKE SURPRISES!
We're charging Thirty Bucks each because, well, because we think we can get away with it.
And, while we're attempting to pick you pockets, be advised that we've sold out TWO production runs of our Finzio's Sinclair Track Jackets (even a a hunnert bucks each!) and are embarking on a third. See below. Same as last time. Yadda-yadda-yadda.
CLICK HERE TO ORDER.
We have Big Fat Guy sizes, too.
Also wanted to remind you that we still have a few chapter and Presenting Sponsor slots open for our new "The Last Open Road" audiobook. It's slow going now during racing season, but it's gonna be absolutely KILLER when it's done!
Can you believe it, NOBODY got the answer to our last e-blast trivia. Not one of you supposed "experts" even had a clue. So here it is again. But with a wee hint (see front view of the same car in the second photo). Would also like to know what track we're at.
Until next time.....
Catch the latest poop & pictures, the Jay Leno interview, Last Open Road swag & highly inappropriate attire from Finzio's Store and the lurid & occasionally embarrassing "ride with Burt" in-car racing videos on the hopefully now fully operational website at: