Monday, June 24, 2013
Hot Rod to Road & Track
Sometime around 1974 or '75 I spent the night at the house of my middle school friend Chris. I missed the trumpets that night, but in retrospect they were loud. Chris's father Roger was a car guy in the way my Dad was not. He drove a BMW and had a vintage HRG and a Jaguar XKE project car. He was in the car industry (Roger hooked Dad up with a good deal on the Falcon station wagon) and it was from Chris that I first heard of Bob Lutz; Roger had worked for him in Europe at some point. Anyway, for some reason that night we slept on the floor in Roger's home office, sharing space with a desk, a television (probably why we were in there) and a bookshelf full of... Road & Track magazines.
I had actually been reading car magazines for a few years and had a subscription to Hot Rod. I poured over them from cover to cover and names like Snake and Mongoose, Big Daddy, and Grumpy were well-known to me. But at some point Hot Rod went through a custom van phase that just put me off. And then along came R&T.
–and pictures! I was hooked and remember staying up most of the night going through issue after issue.
I doubt I've missed more than a handful of Road & Track issues over the years, mostly when the Army sent me to places with only vague mail delivery. I still read every issue–and will until Peter Egan retires. Best automobile writer working today.
If Chris's dad had been a bus driver, I might have saved a whole lot of money over the next 40 years. Maybe I would have learned the trumpet.