Pit Notes: January 2010

Lyndon Conrad Bell made artful use of the review copy of Basem Wasef’s book Legendary Race Cars. In his letter from the editor in a recent issue of African-American On Wheels, Bell tells how the book’s recounting of the men and dreams behind 25 of the most significant race cars ever became part of his nourishing the dream of his son, Julian, who wants “To own a company that designs, builds and sells cars” . . . The Aftermarket Fact Book has gone digital with the new issue orderable at www.aftermarket.org. . . . John “Jay” Lamm writes, “Luminaries of the automotive world will help judge each event (three Concours d’Lemons) risking their reputations and stomach linings to oversee classes such as Needlessly Complex Italian, Rueful Britannia, Bad(ge) Engineering, and Most Dangerous.” They will be held March 7 at Infineon Raceway. May2 at Road Atlanta and August 7 at Monterey Toro Park. Speaking of LeMons, below is one of the cars “honored” in recent selections for its “Hall of Blame.”

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Team Eyesore  Photo by: 24 Hours of LeMons/Head-On Photos

Just as Ford makes news with its latest in-car interactive electronics, (one writer suggesting it may become the next media company) the Transportation Department and the National Safety Council, a nonprofit group, have formed FocusDriven, an organization aimed at spreading awareness about the dangers of distracted driving, in particular, cell phone use while behind the wheel. New York Times Bits blogger Matt Richel reports many of the citizen instigators of the new group are survivors of loved ones killed in accidents caused by distracted drivers. He says they will pattern their campaign after that of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Coincidently, Sean Kane sent along a copy of the Safety Record published bi-monthly by Safety Research & Strategies, Inc. (www.safetyresearch.net) It features a disturbing article on tests of Driver Distractions and Vehicle Contraptions.

Befitting the Fed’s investment in the auto industry, The Washington Auto Show is expanding its efforts to put innovation front and center while providing a central meeting place for policy makers and industry officials as well as consumers and the media. In addition to a public policy media preview days on Capitol Hill January 25, the shows themed, “Change Happens Here” will debut a 65,000 square foot display dubbed the “Advanced Technology Superhighway” at the show itself in the Walter E. Washington Convention January 26-31.

Detroit Area Test Tracks, authored by Michael Davis and published by Arcadia Publishing, goes on sale nationwide January 4. Basically it is a photographic history of automotive testing and test tracks. The title says Detroit. But, Davis says, “it broadly covers U.S. auto testing which historically has been the province of domestic brands, some (Packard, Studebaker, Nash) no longer with us. The preponderance of auto test tracks, more formally known as proving grounds, indeed is in the Detroit area.” The book is sticker priced at $21.99 and is available through Amazon as well as Barnes & Noble and Borders web sites and in Detroit area stores. If any productive auto writers want a review copy to give it a plug, Davis will ask the publisher to send one when provided with particulars. Reach him at bookmike1@sbcglobal.net. Test Tracks is his fifth Arcadia book and tenth published overall.

Drivers Talk Radio is celebrating its 10th year on the air and this month, its 500th broadcast. Hosted by auto expert and race-car champion Rick Titus, the weekly show added podcasts and vodcasts at www.driverstalkradio.com in 2009. Joining Titus on the show for added breadth and depth are: B.J Kileen, Jay Dalton and Tracy Miller. Micah Muzio is the show’s engineer and co-producer. . . . Freelance writer Shaunta offers her evaluation of four for-pay online outlets in her My Freelance Gig blog at LiveOnceJuicy.wordpress.com. She reports her experience with: Demand Studios, Suite 101 and Associated Content and her opinion of www.Seed.com.

Classic Motorsports magazine has put together a scenic tour of old Florida, which starts on Monday, March 15th, the day after the Amelia Island Concours. The week-long itinerary moves from Amelia Island to museums, collections and historic sites in the Sunshine State and ends March 19th at Bob Tullius’ private collection in Sebring. That’s just in time for the 58th running of America’s oldest endurance race, the 12 Hours of Sebring. For more information visit: www.classicmotorsports.net

Petersen Automotive Museum has a steady schedule of changing displays and events that makes repeated visits to the Los Angeles auto shrine worth the time of enthusiasts already steeped in car culture as well as novitiates. For a complete schedule of the museum’s activities contact information and marketing manager Chris Brown at: cbrown@petersen.org