Pit Notes: Stuff Happens

“How sharper than a serpent’s tooth is a” – caustic colleague. When Toronto’s Globe and Mail auto writer Peter Cheney recounted in 2300 words and 10 photos how a $180,000 Porsche 970 Turbo test car burst through the garage door at his home with his 14-year-old son behind the wheel, he probably thought he had squelched the journo gossip mill and did all he could to make amends with Porsche. But, he didn’t count on The Truth About Cars’ Jack Baruth. He found misstatements in the story that made him question Cheney’s auto writing credentials, his truthfulness and once again sound TTAC’s alarm about the cozy relationship of car makers with mainstream auto journalists. According to Cheney, when he offered to pay the $10,000 deductible on Porsche’s insurance, the company’s press fleet manager, said, “Stuff happens” and that Porsche would absorb the cost.

1936 Bugatti Type 57SCGood thing it wasn’t the 1936 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic that allegedly sold recently for $40,000,000 and will be displayed at the Mullin Automotive Museum in Oxnard, Calif., according to Peter Aylett of Car Art, Inc. It was being driven cross-country to the museum despite the findings of a recent GMAC survey reported by Tanya Irwin in Marketing Daily that, if tested today, 38 million or 20% of U.S. drivers would not pass a written driver’s exam. 

In case you missed it, James Saulsbury of the National Transportation Research Center released a list of the top ten misconceptions about fuel economy as determined by the EPA at www.fueleconomy.gov. Among them “… modern computer-controlled, fuel-injected engines regulate the air-fuel mixture so well that a dirty air filter does not decrease fuel economy and using premium fuels improves your economy.” Saulsbury also released two lists (EPA and Real-World) of the top ten fuel sippers www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/topten.jsp. . . .Another list, this one from Google’s AdPlanner reveals that no U.S, automotive site is among the globe’s top 1,000 web sites, as measured by unique users. China has the top five in the category, starting at 205 overall. All five have around 10,000,000 unique visitors.

On his 94th birthday George Spaulding, noting that he was closing in on 1200 columns, offered Charleston Post and Courier readers a retrospect of important auto events since he resumed his journalism career 23 years ago after retiring from General Motors with 35 years of service. . . Speaking of old, a complete compendium of Throttle, the “earliest hot rod magazine published,” begun in 1941 and ended by the start of WW II, 12 issues in all, is being offered by The Rodder’s Journal at customerservice@roddersjournal.com for $32.00. . . . Stretching not that far back is Miller Time, a new 304-page book with about 200 photos that recounts the memoirs of Roger Penske’s “long time prime associate in auto racing,” Don Miller. Author Jim Donnelly of Hemmings describes Miller as, “the founder of Penske Racing South, and the guy who discovered both Rusty Wallace and Ryan Newman before making them both into stars. It’s way beyond the typical racing bio. Don is a very ethical guy with enormous empathy for others and some very specific ideas on how to motivate and manage them, which to me, at least, is the foundation of the book.” Price is $29.95; all proceeds go toward the prevention of child abuse through SCAN of Iredell County, North Carolina. Order from www.coastal181.com or the North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame, www.ncarhof.com.

There’s still time to enter Kelley Blue Book’s video car review contest that closes June 15. Top prize is $10,000. Rules are at www.KBB.com/contest.  . . .And, you can celebrate “Collector Car Appreciation Day” on July 9 as designated by the U.S. Senate thanks to the efforts of SEMA.  . . .For Father’s Day and beyond, David Bull will absorb the shipping cost of The Ferrari Phenomenon written by Matt Stone and Luca Del Monte. With lots of new material and photos, you can see and hear Jay Leno reviewing it with Stone at: www.jaylenosgarage.com/extras/book-club/jays-book-club-the-ferrari-phenomenon 9’ x11’, 160 pages, hardcover, 159 photos. $39.95, www.bullpublishing.com