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september 2012

the road ahead

Big Data is the latest buzz work in cyberdom, "It's a revolution," says Gary King, director of Harvard's Institute for Quantitative Social Science. Quoted in a NY Times article by Steve Lohr, King says: "We're really just getting under way. But the march of quantification, made possible by enormous new sources of data, will sweep through academia, business and government. There is no area that is going to be untouched." | Road Ahead | Big Data

While that may mean numbers and analysis it also means algorithms that scurry across virtual mountains of seemingly unrelated data to produce headlight beams that see between snowflakes, cars that talk to each other to avoid crashes, cell phones that keep people from texting while driving and other practical apps for motoring.

Even more eye-opening is a gesture-based device called Leap Motion. According to Kailia Colbin in Online Spin you plug it into your computer and you control your virtual environment with a flick of your hand. It is actually faster, she reports, than any methods involving friction. But that seems like child's play when Colbin goes on to describe "Blink" which allows a paralyzed artist to move his eyes to a pen, blink to pick it up and "Think" which does not require a blink. Just move the eyes to the pen and think.

Other than the fascination with these marvels that were once stage tricks, there is the promise inherent in the deluge of data pouring down in all fields that auto writing, while currently being whipped by redundancy, diluted by hundreds, nay, thousands of dispatchers has a promising future. Big Data will create more to write about and it will devise systems to distill the significant according to a reader's personality and preferences and shape our means of transportation until we ‘think" and we are there.

Our thanks to Silvio Calabi who provided his fellow NEMPA members with these links:

Headlights That Let Drivers See Through Snow

Look Out!: Ann Arbor Cars to Communicate with One Another to Avoid Crashes

Could Cell Phones Stop People from Texting While Driving?

Also Kailia Colbin: Think Gesture Control Is Cool? Try Thought Control

What do you think?


mac's detroit dispatch
Maynard 'Mac' Gordon

Maynard "Mac" Gordon is Detroit Correspondent and Marketing Representative for

If every senior Big 3 exec who blurted out 'F words' was axed, there would be chaos on executive rows and mandatory clean-mouth classes, taught after top-management. And the GM board never could have ganged up on Joel Ewanick or considered getting into bed with a UK soccer team!

Hyundai/Kia Seeks More Tech Types in Michigan

Seeking to become both an econocar leader plus a trend-setter, Hyundai Motor America is planning to step up growth of its state-of-the-art tech center at Ypsilanti, MI, near Ann Arbor and Detroit. The Hyundai/Kia Michigan Center already is sending shock waves through the Midwest technical centers of its competitors-Toyota in Ann Arbor, Nissan in Farmington Hills, MI, and Honda in Marysville, OH.

Click here to continue reading online

GM 4-Banger Boosts Malibu, ATS

Chevrolet has taken a giant leap forward with refreshings of three body styles-2013 Cruze, Camaro and Malibu. The Cruze has been recast in the subcompact segment in interior trim, but still trails the global Honda Fit and Jazz in performance. The Fit has benefited from GM's belated decision to replace GM's venerable Malibu four-cylinder engine with its 'Eco e Assist' 4-banger, which boasts direct fuel injection and was directly ordered to be the base engine on the high-profile Cadillac ATS base model by none other than GM CEO Dan Akerson, who also mandated a No. 1 segment target for the midsize Malibu.

Click here to continue reading online.

Ford First Among Collectors

There's no mystery as to the largest source of collector brands among consumers, especially where auto shows or drive-a-thons are concerned.
The 2012 Detroit 'Dream Cruise' down Woodward Avenue, the Motor City's main street, was dominated as usual by Ford and was informally dedicated to the late Ford performance guru, Carroll Shelby.

Click here to continue reading online.

Asbury's Dealers Draw High Marks

Dealerships and dealers have been at loggerheads since the 2008 GM and Chrysler bankruptcies up-ended thousands of dealers, mostly GM and Chrysler. The well-run Asbury Automotive Group, based in the Atlanta suburb of Duluth, GA, enjoys superior dealer relations in 18 metro markets. Each market group has expanded with purchase of numerous single-point franchises, and the group's employee retention rate is one of the largest of any publicly owned group.

Click here to continue reading online.


Three proposals tightening laws on buy-here/pay-here transactions have advanced in the California legislature. Two of the bills would ban in-store payment and the third would cap the Federal funds rate at 17.25 percent. Arkansas's rate is second highest in the U.S.-17 percent. Dealers in publicly-owned groups are relatively a satisfied bunch, but those in privately-owned stores are less so.

Click here to continue reading online.

GM, Ford Struck by Europe Setbacks

Although Ford lost $404 million in the 2nd quarter in Europe, it managed to earn $1 billion overall as profit fell to $2.4 billion from the same period a year ago. The European auto market has fallen dramatically for both domestic and import players, affecting GM's European unit and French producer PSA Peugeot/Citroen (GM's new partner).

Click here to continue reading online.

No-Driver Cars Near Midsize Market

Driverless cars are gradually joining the ranks of electronic motoring aids, but users are not as pleased with the fallout as the industry first expected. Studies commissioned by Ford Motor Company and market researchers Penn Schoen Berlind raise continuing doubts about self-driving as assisted driving benefits, although the same surveys show that drivers still long for assistance technologies by up to 90 percent of those tested.

Click here to continue reading online.


passing scene
Rupert Murdoch | The Daily | Photo courtesy of Seerpress

Rupert Murdoch's tablet newspaper, The Daily, laid-off nearly a third of its staff in August. According to Erik Sass in Online Media Daily, the cuts fell heavily on editorial staffers – another case of trying to make money by offering an inferior product, a strategy decried by Sharon Silke Carty during a recent appearance on a panel before journalism students. Ironically, as noted in Lane Changes, Carty departed The Huffington Post when it dropped its in-house auto coverage.

The self-immolating phenomenon of declining circulation followed by a lesser product is not confined to newspapers.

David Carr reports in the New York Times that magazine newsstand circulation was down 10 per cent for the first half of the year and advertising almost as much. . . Immediate Digest quotes documentary maker Adam Curtis, "[HBO series] Game of Thrones takes a fantasy world, makes it real and turns it into a struggle for power. The journalism of the future is going to have to be incredibly high blown, almost romantic and it will need to turn what looks dull and impenetrable and turn it into Game of Thrones." For example . . . Joel Ewanick's departure from General Motors was the stuff of high drama caught by the columns of Marketing Daily's Karl Greenberg and Auto Extremist Peter De Lorenzo. Both recognized it was not a conflict of ideas or misdeeds, nor "a ghost in the machine" but the "ego in the drive train" insisting on a total preeminence never earned and, perhaps, therefore more desperately needed.

What do you think?


autowriters spotlight

Brett Berk's weekly Stick Shift auto column in Online Vanity Fair is often like reading a sportswriter covering the crowd or visiting a doctor who tells you how he's feeling. Yet it works. When you come to the single car in his recent 10-slide report on the world's most famous Concours d' Elegance, his idiosyncratic tour and description of Monterey Car Week makes you want to forsake your reality for a moment, join the 1%ers and drive off in the lush 1935 Dusenberg J Gurney Nutting Speedster shown on a Pebble Beach green. Exactly the material lust Vanity Fair hopes to inspire in its readers.

Berk is proud that all the photos in Stick Shift since he began it four years ago were shot with his Iphone without training or patience but in quantity until he gets one that works. Not all are catalog quality but he makes up for it with the words. That, after all, is his training and love. In a piece on the six generations of the Mercedes SL, he used seven modifiers to laud his favorite –the third generation, 1972 –1989 SL. He confesses to being excursive, (e.g." a Bentley Mulsanne "long and luxurious as summer in the Cote d'Azur) and caught up in the fun of writing on a topic he's loved since growing up in Detroit and environs. He had a Dusenberg-shaped cake as his bar mitzvah cake and he admits to a lifetime of pursuing luxury – perfect conditioning for a Vanity Fair writer.

He says, "I love being associated with Vanity Fair, as it gives me an excuse to focus in on the cars I love | Spotlight | Brett Berkmost--those that are luxurious, sporty, unique, or absurd--in a sharp, immersive, and intelligent fashion, blending "high" and "low" cultural references with connections to the arts, politics, fashion, Hollywood, and the auto industry. And I relish the way that being a part of that brand offers me entrée into the world and lifestyle these cars aim to capture, and the freedom to engage with and describe it in a playful and offhandedly critical fashion. I think Vanity Fair is at once inside and outside of this culture of opulence, and I delight in that paradox and oppositionality."

More than a mouthful, that's a menu full, but easily uttered after earning an undergraduate degree in creative writing from Oberlin College and a graduate degree in early childhood education from New York City's Hunter College. He has been published in both fields and spent 11 years as a classroom teacher and preschool director.

He got into auto writing through a contact who had a contact that needed help in producing an American version of Richard Porter's funny Crap Cars published in England in 2005 but with a third of the vehicles in it not available in the U.S., Berk researched and came up with details and as it turned out, humorous "talking points" for domestically available replacements for the American version of the book.

He's provided automotive content for Bloomberg Businesweek, Car and Driver, CNN.Com, Esquire, Jalopnik, The L A. Times and Yahoo! Autos. His most recent essay for the latter notes the color brown is no longer down and travels the lexicon of the hue in verbal excursions from upscale umbric goods to Sumatra's jungles and back.

Recently, he authored a car page for GQ. It, too, appeals to readers' higher aspirations and reflects his own – if not behind the wheel for sure when employing his talents.

What do you think?


regional news


NEMPA's 15th Ragtop Ramble & Crustacean Crawl set all-time records for participation, with 44 cars divided among 70 people for the drive from Brookline, Mass. to Kennebunkport, Maine on Friday, July 20. That followed a Thursday open house lunch and dinner cruise of Boston Harbor that was the New England Motor Press Association's annual thank-you to automakers and their PR people for what they do on NEMPA's behalf all year long. | Regional News | NEMPA Ragtop Rame

An informal dinner August 16 with Ford staffers, including Eric Kuehn, chief engineer for the company's Global Electrified Program, provided NEMPA members able to attend a chance to get answers to questions ranging from Euro-style three cylinder diesels versus gas-electric hybrids to the proliferation of EV charging stations.


IMPA member journalists will have three chances to win a set of Goodyear tires when they attend this year's annual IMPA Test Days September 19-20 at Monticello Motor Club, Monticello. NY. While there, any IMPA member who owns a vintage, modified or special-interest vehicle is invited to bring their pride-and-joy to the Monticello Motor Club Thursday, September 20th and exhibit it in the open paved area between the club house and the track's front straight. A parade of classics, awards and a trophy-winner are part of the show . . . Barnes & Noble put the spotlight on Loren Fix, aka "The Car Coach" when they featured her and her new book "Lauren Fix's Guide To Loving Your Car" in a book signing at the Clarence Mall in Buffalo.


The Southern International Auto Show is now the Miami International Auto Show and its promoters have enlisted the Southern Auto Media Association's help in promoting the change. An appealing video announcing the change praises the area's auto media and provides SAMA President Jaimie Flores an on-camera speaking role.


Nominations are now open for MPG's Dean Batchelor Awards. Any journalistic work in the automotive genre may be nominated, but nominations must be made by a current Motor Press Guild member.  This year, electronic as well as generic versions are acceptable in these categories: Articles, Books and Photography. The deadline for entries is September 28th. Forms and more information available at:


If Denise McCluggage were not in love with cars she could woo the nation to New Mexico – something she would not want to do except for the 2012 Santa Fe Concorso she extols. This year's event will be held at the more spacious Club at Las Campanas Sept. 28-30. . . From deep in the heart of the Lone Star State word has finally reached AWCom that sometime back Alan Gell was given a lifetime achievement award by his fellow members of the Texas Auto Writers Association. Not an annual thing, it was prompted by Gell's long and continuing service to TAWA. Presented by TAWA President Mike Herzing (right), the award is a custom-designed Texas rodeo belt buckle.


It's only one brand but promoters claim it is the largest Corvette party in the world. Why not? That still leaves roundups, homecomings and reunions. And considering that over the past 18 years the MidAmerica Motorworks Funfest has hosted The Beach Boys, Eagles, The Guess Who and Reo Speedwagon in the scenic cornfields of Effingham, Ill., the event deserves the considerable following it has built. The 19th party Sept.13-16 headlines the World Classic Band.

What do you think?


pit notes

Thanks to the boundless enthusiasm of "Landspeed Louise" Noeth, U.S. Air Force Academy engineering students and their faculty have agreed to work with amateur racers on land speed related projects. Up to 20 cadets enrolled in Automotive Systems Analysis as part of the Academy's Mechanical Engineering degree program will work individually or in teams to solve a racing-related problem, develop or improve a vehicle sub-system or perform racing related analysis. Their involvement in challenging real-world problems is expected to enhance their learning. | Pit Notes | Landspeed Louise Noeth

For participating land speed racers - who will provide the labor and parts - the program means their vehicles will benefit from the Academy's know-how and research and development facilities. The school has two wind tunnels, machine shops, engine and chassis dynamometers, solid modeling, modeling software and Computational Fluid Dynamics among its resources.

As for "Landspeed Louise," she says the collaboration will bring her "not one thin dime." But the author of  "Bonneville Salt Flats, The Fastest Place on Earth" hopes it will bring the world's land speed record to the U.S. ("Where it belongs," she opines.) British race teams, she notes, are assisted by their nation's military in preparing for assaults on the salt and they have repeatedly set top marks.

In the process of updating her definitive book about Bonneville for the University of Utah's 2014 celebration of 100 years of racing on the unique site, she became acquainted with Lt. Colonel Richard Buckley of the Air Force Academy's Department of Engineering Mechanics and his desire to provide exciting practical problems to intensify cadets' learning.

The two of them devised the program and another advanced program starting in August 2013. For more information on either program, contact :

Louise Ann Noeth, LandSpeed Productions; 805- 445-8414 or or Lt. Col Richard Buckley , U.S. Air Force Academy, 719-333-0633 or

What do you think?


awards and events

The Latino Auto Club will launch the first annual Hispanic Automobile Summit Saturday, January 12, 2013 in Detroit, Mich. It will bring together Hispanic Auto Dealers, Suppliers. Media and Community Organizations to focus on:

  • Latino access to dealerships

  • Latino access to supplier contacts

  • Community service and Latino non-profits

  • Latino media access to advertising and marketing contracts.

For more information contact: the non-profit Millennium Community Builders at 813-599-6361.

The Automotive Heritage & Preservation Foundation (AHPF)will honor the racing and Concours history of Monterey Point by funding through Private/Public Partnerships a world-renowned Museum of Automotive Arts, a Technical School of Automotive Restoration in collaboration with the Museum and the school. For more information contact: Hollie Webster

The AutoWeek America Adventure for 2013 will begin in Colorado Springs Oct. 12 and end in Las Vegas Oct. 19. Teams will have to "get a clue" to determine each day's destination. Once in Sin City, a few teams will have the chance to gamble for a 2012 300 SR. The $5,000.00 entry fee per two-person team covers "all hotels, food and beverage, all track fees, all event logistics and the ultimate player pack with sponsor gifts." Contact Natalie Furmise at 407-494-4481 or


lane changes

Pete Szilagyi has "escaped" the grind and now does occasional auto-related features and a single monthly review column in the Austin American-Statesman with "he-said, she-said" sidekick Pam LeBlanc (with gun in photo along with Pete). He's been weekly auto columnist for the Statesman since 1981. His review columns have been widely distributed by the New York Times News Service and Cox News Service. He was co-founder of the Texas Auto Writers Association and Rocky Mountain Automotive Press. Pete is a former motocross and desert racer who was founding editor of Motocross Action magazine and associate editor of Dirt Bike magazine. He splits his time between Austin and the Davis Mountains of far West Texas, where he is a music, news and talk host at KRTS 93.5, Marfa Public Radio. Email to | Lane Changes | Pete Szigali and Pam LeBlanc

Karl Henkel has supplanted Jaclyn Trop as an auto reporter for the Detroit News. Reach him at . . . Terry Karges took over as executive director of The Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles on Aug. 15, replacing Buddy Pepp who retired after more than two years on the job. Previously, Karges helped grow Rousch Performance into the largest specialty high performance car brand in the world. He can be reached at: | Lane Changes | Terry Karges | Lane Changes | Buddy Pepp
Terry Karges Buddy Pepp

Former USA Today and Associated Press auto writer Sharon Silke Carty has departed The Huffington Post following its decision to eliminate in-house auto-coverage. No word here as yet, on her next post. . . . David Speranza has been named Road & Track's new design director, replacing Richard Barton who is leaving the magazine. Speranza has been a magazine art director since 1987 and has worked on many different titles, most recently Rodales's Bicycling. Hearst's email protocol is:

While the outgoing Cindy Kurman is not likely to stay out of touch long, AWCOM has been advised is the best way to reach her. . . . Bill Zervakos says the best way to reach him is: If you do not get this Newsletter regularly and you want to, check and be sure it is on your email app's approved list.

What do you think?


- 30-

Glenn Camppbell, Owner, Publisher

Glenn F. Campbell

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RetroFocals: We've Got Your Style!

Wolverine Furs: Distinctive Apparel. Outstanding Customer Service.

September 2012
7 WAPA: Luncheon:  National Press Club: Kia
12 MAMA: Luncheon: Universal Technical Institute, Glendal Heights, IL
15 Concours d'Elegance: Road Rallye,Palos Verdes, CA
16 Concours d'Elegance: Palos Verdes, CA
18 Automotive News Marketing Seminar, NYC, NY
18-20 IMPA:Test Days, Monticello Motor Club, NY
27-28 Paris Motor Show Press Days, Paris, France
27-29 Moscow Int'l Auto Show, Moscow, Russia
29 - Oct. 14 Paris Motor Show Public Days, Paris, France
October 2012
2 MAMA: Fall Rally Manufacturers Dinner, Hoffman Estates, IL
3 MAMA: Fall Rally Driving Event, Hoffman Estates, IL
9-10 MPG: Track Day, Fontana, CA
18-20 TAWA: Truck Rodeo, San Antonio, TX
23 APA/NADA: Luncheon, MGM Grand, Detroit, MI
24 30 APA/Consumer Reports: Luncheon, Detroit, MI


motoring press organizations

The 17 regional automotive press associations provide information and background not easily found elsewhere. If they are too distant for you to attend their meetings, belonging usually gives you access to transcripts or reports of these events and other benefits.


Logo: AARWBA - Automotive Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association

American Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association, Inc.
Norma "Dusty" Brandel
President, Exec. Director


Automotive Press Association
Detroit, MI
Joann Muller, President


Logo: Ameican Racing Press Association

American Racing Press Association
Stan Clinton, President

Logo: IMPA Int'l Motor Press Association

International Motor Press Association
Mike Spinelli, President

GAAMA: Greater Atlanta Automotive Association

Greater Atlanta Automotive Media Association
Atlanta, GA
Davis Adams, President

Logo: MAMA Midwest Automotive Media Association

Midwest Automotive Media Association
Chicago, IL
Tom Appel, President

MPG: Motor Press Guild

Motor Press Guild
Los Angeles, CA
Laura Burstein, President

NEMPA Logo: New England Motor Press Association

New England Motor
Press Association
Boston, MA
Keith Griffin, President


Northwest Automotive
Press Association
Portland, OR
Nik Miles, President


Phoenix Automotive Press Association, Phoenix
Cathy Droz, President


Logo: Rocky Mountain Automotive Media Association

Rocky Mountain Automotive Press
Denver, CO
Nathan Adlen, President


Log: Southern Automotive Media Association

Southern Automotive Media Association
Miami FL
Jaimie Flores, President


Logo: Southeast Automotive Media Organization

Southeast Automotive Media Organization
Charlotte, NC



Texas Auto Writers Association
Mike Herzing


Logo: Truck Writers of North America

Truck Writers of North America
Tom Kelley, Executive Director 


Logo: Western Automotvie Journalists

Western Automotive Journalists
San Francisco, CA
David Ray



Washington Automotive Press Association
Washington, D.C.
Jessica Anderson, President


automotive journalists

Help us make sure you continue to get the information you want the way you want it. Keep your profile current. Fill out the form online. Thank you!

across the finish line

William F. Milliken, Jr. – Renowned aeronautical engineer who also wrote a book on vehicle dynamics that is considered the "bible" of Formula 1 race car design.


talk back

Re: Regional News-TAWA


Thanks (I think) for your mention of our summer 'thunderstorm' last month in Texas. And with that I want to add a bit of context regarding the outreach by Timepiece PR on behalf of Lotus' Austin dealership.

As the first to hit 'reply all' after receiving the invitation, I can assure you I didn't take offense at the reference to automatic transmissions. I found the set-up more than a little inane, as it read as something more appropriate to consumer outreach than an invitation to automotive media. My concern, though, was the implication that we - as Texas-based autowriters - weren't paying attention to Lotus because we couldn't drive their manual-only models.

As noted in my response, we - collectively - haven't paid attention to Lotus because Lotus hasn't been paying attention to us. For most of the last decade we've hosted a spring event specifically so that low volume (or, in Lotus' example, no volume) manufacturers could showcase their product to our regional media. Lotus has historically found the money to showcase that product in front of any number of other regional organizations, but can't seem to find the financial budget - or managerial wherewithal - to bring a Lotus to Texas.

Of course, we'd readily admit that the Texas Auto Writers' media guide doesn't enjoy the number of 'A-List' journalists populating MPG, MAMA or IMPA. In TAWA's defense I'd note our multi-ethnic membership, (relative) gender balance and historical commitment to organizing credible regional programs. And beyond the media membership is the market itself; you can compare Texas' consumer capability favorably against any region in the country.

We welcome any and all manufacturers to both our press fleets and regional events. To date Lotus has taken a pass. With the Timepiece e-mail Lotus' dealer rep in Austin, however, couldn't get one.

All the best, DB

David Boldt
Automotive Criticism

New Address


It's official... new address and phone as follows...

Road & Travel Magazine
1304 Park View Avenue, Suite 321
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
Phone: 310.322.8000

Also, RTM just launched its 16th Annual Sexy Car Buyer's Guide.

Thanks Glenn, it's been a bumpy journey but at least this time the light at the end of the tunnel is not a train! Courtney

# # #

New Book

To all my friends, my first self-published book, The Jaguar Bertone Pirana Coupe, was just published on the CreateSpace platform and is now available for sale, worldwide, on all the Amazon websites. | Talks Back | Jaguar Bertone PIran Coupe

Here are links to the book, at CreateSpace and It can be purchased from either location (CreateSpace is Amazon's platform for self-publishing).

CreateSpace enables writers and photographers to produce their own books and sell them direct to readers via our own websites or to a worldwide audience on

Since this E-mail is going out to many of my friends in auto hobby and press communities, if any of you have a blog and would like to review The Jaguar Bertone Coupe, please let me know and I will send you a link to a PDF copy of the book so you won't need to purchase a copy.

Richard Truesdell
Co-Founder & Editorial Director
Automotive Traveler Magazine
# # #

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