I didn’t go to the Detroit Auto Show this year. I’d wanted to go, as this was the last year for a traditional winter event. The next one will be in the summer of 2020. Will anyone care?
The first Detroit Show I attended would have been in 1995, I think — my co-worker “Rodney” talked me into going. My first wife and I made a habit of attending the Charity Ball some time around the turn of the century — in those years before I had a media credential, the charity event was a nice way to pick up an $800 tax deduction and check out the cars without the crush of the madding crowd.
Detroit was always a chance to meet up with people, put faces to names, make friends, meet girls, and get excited about cars again. In the past few years it’s felt a bit dead. People want to blame the weather, but the weather was always bad. What’s changed? In truth, the lack of excitement at the show probably has a lot to do with the now-universal practice of pre-empting the event itself with embargoed and non-embargoed press materials. There was once a time when the people at the show were genuinely shocked, or at least surprised, to see a new car roll out on stage. When it happens nowadays it’s anti-climactic because everyone’s already read the press release and seen the pictures.
Which is not to say that there was a lack of fascinating news at this year’s show…
It’s being discussed on the forums now so there’s no reason to ignore it here: Road&Track is closing its Ann Arbor office and moving the print operation to be under the direction of my old enduro-racing teammate Travis Okulski. This was probably an overdue change; we’ve been kinda floundering ever since Larry Webster left. I’ve always thought that running a “paper of record” like R&T is more of a vocation than a job. You have to love cars and you have to be an evangelist for your own enthusiasm. It’s not like running a McDonald’s. You have to live and breathe it or the product will suffer as a result. Travis has that enthusiasm. He’s also very handy with both steering wheel and keyboard. He’s the right man for the job and I predict great things to come. Just as importantly, he’ll have the continued assistance of both Sam Smith and Kyle Kinard, who are both important parts of the R&T voice and who will both be part of his journey as Editor-In-Chief.
Sadly for me, I won’t be part of that journey. This upcoming week will be my last one as a freelance writer. I have two Web pieces and two print pieces in the works with R&T. This is a coincidence, not a byproduct of the restructuring at R&T — I took a new job a while ago and I start it a week from Monday. More details to come. I’m looking forward to the move. Not because I want to leave this great publication, but because I think there’s more to be done away from it.
Riverside Green readers should be aware that this site will not close, nor will the general tone of the place change in any measurable way.
I’d like to thank all of my readers, but particularly the ones who stuck with me from the beginning to now. We are not done yet.
For Road&Track, I explained why homebrew pro-race cars are disappearing and made a modest proposal regarding the Supra.