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.