Spotter’s Guide To The May 2019 Road&Track

Oh, this is bittersweet. As I’ve noted previously, Road&Track changed leadership (and office location) in January, just after I accepted a gig working for Hagerty but before I started the job. The R&T change wasn’t entirely for the good — David Zenlea, Matthew dePaula, and Nate Petroelje were all genuine assets to the magazine in my opinion, and they’ve all found places where their talents will be valued — but the past few years had been rough from a leadership and vision standpoint. Now that Travis Okulski is in charge I think the outlook for the magazine is brighter than it’s been in a few years.

When Travis called me with the news I asked — no, scratch that, I begged for a couple of slots in what would be his first issue of R&T as well as my last one. He was kind enough to oblige.

Take a look at that gorgeous cover — it’s fresh and fascinating, the product of Dave “Puppyknuckles” Burnett’s imagination and some hard work on the part of everyone involved. What follows is an all-star effort: Bob Lutz contributes a handwritten letter, Zach Bowman and Zack Klapman combine Zac-something powers for a four-cylinder track test, Sam Smith waxes poetic on his Integra Type R and the glory days of Japan’s most admirable automaker, and your humble author chimes in on racing both vintage (the Neon!) and modern (Mazda Team Joest’s Daytona effort).

Given world enough and time, I’d have finished my career at the magazine with something outrageous and painfully memorable, like when Car and Driver drowned a Maxima or jumped a Dodge Rampage. I have to be content with knowing that R&T is in good hands. Even if they aren’t mine.

If that sounds self-pitying… well, it shouldn’t. The leadership team at Hagerty has given me the chance to change the landscape of automotive journalism. So far, most of the moves have been behind the scenes, although you might notice a few familiar names and faces appearing on their site in the weeks to come. In particular, I’m proud to welcome Robert Farago back to autowriting; his weekly column, “Straight Outta Tribeca”, will debut on 1 July. There are big changes coming. If you enjoyed TTAC in our halcyon days — if you appreciated the first few years of the rebooted R&T — if you want to find the most fascinating and unique voices in automotive journalism, all in a single place — then you’ll want to watch what’s about to happen. I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, please buy the May issue and help kick-start Travis on his journey.

Today I found myself listening to Robin Pecknold’s “Third Of May”. The song is about his feeling of distance from his bandmates after “Helplessness Blues” was released in May of 2011. I think I will look back at our final issue of R&T together in much the same way. That’s all.

27 Replies to “Spotter’s Guide To The May 2019 Road&Track”

  1. AvatarShortest Circuit

    “like when Car and Driver drowned a Maxima or jumped a Dodge Rampage”
    or one of my all-time favorites, when Mopar Action nitro’d a rental Neon.

    Reply
    • Avatareconomist

      Or the first “Battle of the Beaters.” I never laughed so hard at a magazine in my life. The chart with “Dented body panels: All” killed me.

      Reply
  2. AvatarJohn C.

    I liked the art on the R/T cover. The Edwin Hopper like background dehumanized by the sheer scale of the modern landscape. Then as if the Miata could find an exit from the gridlock…

    Recreating TTAC 10 years on at Hagerty might be challenging. The cars TTAC spat at are now becoming vintage themselves. One wonders if these are the right people to explain how the newer models should find their place in the old hobby. You might see that for example with the early Neon. The interesting thing about the Neon is how it knocked the perfectly respectable generic Japanese OHC 1.6 5 speed sedan package on it’s ear with a big dose of American 2 liter torque, leaving shocked import fan boys muttering about head gaskets and old man Lido jokes while wishing Honda had thought of it. Your crew is all the mutterers not the celebrators

    Reply
    • AvatarRonnie Schreiber

      It’s not like Jack is putting the old band together.

      As far as explaining how modern cars fit in the enthusiast hobby, that’s an important part of my job. Historical context works both ways, connecting veteran enthusiasts with modern machinery and also teaching people new to the hobby about stuff that went on before them.

      Reply
      • AvatarJohn C.

        There is going to be a tendency toward there is no reason to keep around an old TR4 or MGB due to the cheap ubiquity of the Miata. Like when Jack said there was no reason for an old Rolls because of cheap Bentley/VW Continentals. A lot of the old timers and their younger acolytes will respond that the real ubiquity is among stupid idiots with no sense of history. Hagerty knowing that the old stuff is still where their bread is buttered will jettison the new hires. Some of you know that I write about stamps at the-philatelist.com. That hobby was shrunk dramatically by trying to bring kids into the hobby with ever stupider stamp issues. Many high end collectors don’t collect anything post WWII. The rare early stamps still go up in value, the new stuff is a comparative joke. Yet the young are the future, aren’t they?

        Reply
  3. Avatarhank chinaski

    Or taped themselves into a modified diesel Jetta for a coast to coast marathon.

    ‘when giants walked the earth’.

    Reply
    • AvatarCJinSD

      The catheter road test.

      I don’t remember them jumping a Rampage. I do remember a photo of a Charger 2.2 with its front wheels well off the ground.

      Reply
        • Tom KlockauTom Klockau

          I remember that. Meanwhile over at Cantankerous Coot, they’re happily humping Camrys once again – in a re-run, hahaha. Party like it’s 2013. It’s like writing an article about socks. How exciting. Not.

          Reply
          • AvatarJohn C.

            Well hey, he is always claiming that they are faster than a Countach or at least Jalpas, they must have plenty of shots of airborne Camrys. Except that even people that respect them don’t care enough to try. Or course there is the additional problem that showing 80s domestic front drives airborne was done to mock them, and mocking a Camry is against his religion, would probably get him banned by his Bhagwon.

          • AvatarCJinSD

            Early Camrys were pretty exciting for people trading in Oldsmobile diesels and other GM Malaise atrocities. What was GM’s market share the year before the Camry was introduced? If writing about Camrys is like writing about socks, writing about the GM cars that burned their owners is like writing about unmatched socks. Just because you write about cars that were terrible doesn’t make your articles more interesting than ones about cars that created happy owners. Fake wire wheels, whitewall tires, plastic wood dashboards, and faux convertible tops didn’t make low quality appliances more fun to drive than high quality ones. I’m old enough to remember that nobody ever saw a PLC or a brougham in a driveway and thought that it signified the home of a car enthusiast. Paul is a thin-skinned twit, but there is nothing wrong with writing about good cars as well as crummy ones.

          • Tom KlockauTom Klockau

            Always a ray of sunshine, me auld son. 🙂 I write about stuff I like, others write about stuff they hate. Let the armchair psychologists make of that however they see fit, haha!

          • AvatarJohn C.

            Yes come trade in your diesel on a Camry and experience the excitement. Coming from the diesel you won’t be bothered by the lack of an available V6 like was on the Citation that Toyota modeled but then penny pinched. Or that even the four is twenty percent smaller which makes it imperative you break from the pact and get a manual with your family sedan. Don’t worry, Toyota gave you an extra gear to hide the lack of torque and geared it short, with the fifth gear shorter than fourth on the Citation. Why is it geared so short. I am glad you asked. Toyota’s engineers are so wonderful that despite the tiny light aluminum headed engine, the Camry manages to weigh more than the Citation while offering only a little less room. And the price, not just a little but a lot more. So come on by, Oh what a feeling! of paying more and getting less.

  4. Avatarscotten

    Holy crap, you had me at Farago…! It’s been so long since I read his writings that it’s like a vague memory.

    Reply
  5. AvatarBill Kinnon

    Jack,
    I’m as excited about what you’re doing at Hagerty as I was when David E. launched Automobile. (Just avoid the Jean L. trajectory of Davis, eh!)

    Reply
  6. AvatarWill

    I never liked Farago’s writing, but I respected his message so if it’s more antagonistic towards the OEM’s then I’m on board. They’ve also neutered ttag.

    Reply
  7. Avatarrandebell

    I guess my allegiance to Road&Track withered with the move of the editorial offices from Newport Beach,CA to Ann Arbor. Michigans’s a great state for building cars, just not to keep factory testers six months of the year and evaluate them on Michigan roads. I know, there’s always the occasional factory junkets to warmer climes and warmer countries. And I missed the ‘Dragnet’ style(Just The Facts, People) without the pervasive forced comedy. I like Adam Carolla and and to a much less extent Jeremy Clarkson on air, just not monthly, and I don’t want the print version of them in my mail slot. I do pine for Peter Egan, Jim Crow, Ron Wakefield, Dennis Simanitis, and the other former stalwarts of R&T.

    Reply
  8. Avatararbuckle

    I’m hopeful, but you already had one barely controversial article memory-holed by Hagerty.
    I’m not sure who makes the ultimate calls over there but they’ve got to be able to allow you, RF, and your team to rattle some cages without getting squeamish.

    Reply
    • AvatarRonnie Schreiber

      It’s not about rattling cages, it’s about building the best automotive enthusiast website in the world. That being said, to meet that goal it seems to me that some cages will be rattled, some muck will be raked, and some jimmies will get rustled.

      Reply
  9. AvatarJohn Marks

    “Given world enough and time… ”

    Ah, Jack…

    You hopeless Romantic.

    That’s one of my favorite poems!!! (Andrew Marvell, 1681)

    Believe me–at my age, I always hear:
    “Time’s wingèd chariot”
    creeping up on me.

    To His Coy Mistress

    Had we but world enough, and time,
    This coyness, Lady, were no crime
    We would sit down and think which way
    To walk and pass our long love’s day.
    Thou by the Indian Ganges’ side
    Shouldst rubies find: I by the tide
    Of Humber would complain. I would
    Love you ten years before the Flood,
    And you should, if you please, refuse
    Till the conversion of the Jews.
    My vegetable love should grow
    Vaster than empires, and more slow;
    A hundred years should go to praise
    Thine eyes and on thy forehead gaze;
    Two hundred to adore each breast,
    But thirty thousand to the rest;
    An age at least to every part,
    And the last age should show your heart.
    For, Lady, you deserve this state,
    Nor would I love at lower rate.

    But at my back I always hear
    Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near;
    And yonder all before us lie
    Deserts of vast eternity.
    Thy beauty shall no more be found,
    Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
    My echoing song; then worms shall try
    That long preserved virginity,
    And your quaint honour turn to dust,
    And into ashes all my lust:
    The grave’s a fine and private place,
    But none, I think, do there embrace.

    Now therefore, while the youthful hue
    Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
    And while thy willing soul transpires
    At every pore with instant fires,
    Now let us sport us while we may,
    And now, like amorous birds of prey,
    Rather at once our time devour
    Than languish in his slow-chapped power.
    Let us roll all our strength and all
    Our sweetness up into one ball,
    And tear our pleasures with rough strife
    Through the iron gates of life:
    Thus, though we cannot make our sun
    Stand still, yet we will make him run.

    # # #

    John Marks

    Reply
  10. AvatarRobert

    Jack – does Hagerty have an RSS feed for articles? I tried a few URLs that I thought might work, but no dice.

    Reply

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