Sept. 24, 2021

Hemmings | Speed Sport | Crankshaft | In The Pits | Race track stories | Flemington Speedway

Find Jim:  7:08 reading STOCK CAR RACING since I found my very first copy of it in a news stand underneath the elevated train...

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Find Jim: 

 7:08 reading STOCK CAR RACING since I found my very first copy of it in a news stand underneath the elevated train line on Fulton Street, Brooklyn

7:26 Dr. Dick Berggren encouraged Jim to contribute articles to his magazine and later to pick up the camera for the first time

9:02 Past senior editor of Hemmings

11:09 in Bennington, THE BLUE BEN is a great diner that bakes tremendous triple berry pancakes

11:59 born in Brooklyn. Identify as a New Jersey

12:56 at Phoenix international raceway, I got to drive one of the last Buick GNXs ever built. I got to get taken out a lap around the track in the Grand National with Jim Crawford.

14:21 7 laps with Rusty Wallace in an IROC car 20:50 4 laps to the mat in the passenger seat of an AUDI 90 QUATTRO...and the prayers begin

21:32 no brakes at 140MPH in a Corvette Grand Sport

29:57 " many cases a shorter course tends to produce more readily digestible racing that you can consume all at once with a smile on your face"

30:09 Derek Bell to be grand marshal at the upcoming LeMans

30:44 earliest exposure to auto racing was in Brooklyn, which had a famous sports Speedway in Sheepshead Bay

36:31 Stock car racing at East Windsor Speedway was a destiny moment

40:23 found Langhorne Speedway completely by accident

41:56 Pine Brook Stadium used to exist on Route 46. The guy who placed second in the 3/4 midgets feature was Mario Andretti

41:50 Flemington Speedway magical unforgettable exciting compelling filthy dangerous loud eternally mobbed  


Unknown Speaker  0:00  
I have been reading stock car racing since I found my very first copy of it. In a new stand underneath the elevated train line on Fulton Street, Brooklyn. I was a regular contributor to stock car and open wheel. Hemmings was looking for an editor, and I climb into the car and Rusty is in the seat just looking at me. And the person who had written in it before me was a very diminutive young female TV reporter and I couldn't get the belts around. Watching the field line up for wide for the a main at the Knoxville nationals on the final night. And know you've just seen the most competitive qualifying in motor sport anywhere in the world and throw up a clod of dirt about this big that would smack you right in the chest, which happened to me. The guy who beat Mario Andretti that night was Jim Hendrickson, who became a legend in modified stock cars on Long Island. Flemington Speedway, the most magical, unforgettable, exciting, compelling, filthy, dangerous, loud, eternally mob Weekly Race Track I ever experienced. I mean, I saw cars get into the stands there several times. As a hemming senior editor, I was a frequent guest, co host on Ron inany ins program the car doctor, and I also am a more regular guest on in the pits radio. Your word is really what you are. It's not a thing. It's not a commodity. It's your being. It's your core.

Unknown Speaker  1:53  
Jeff Sterns connected through cars, if they're bigwigs, we'll have him on the show. And yes, we'll talk about cars and everything else. Here he is now, Jeff Sterns,

Jeff Sterns  2:10  
Jeff Sterns connected through cars with my new friend, Jim Donnelly, I'm extremely excited and honored to have Jim on here I want to read from my notes. So if you see me reading, what a background in the automotive space, so multiple award winning author and researcher of automotive and motor sports history, more than 30 years of diversified writing and broadcast and lecturing hope that he lectures us here a little bit today. International assignments, award winning, whether it be local or national or worldwide, globally published photography. Very, very, very interesting. And then we're talking about prior to us, saying hi, and introducing about some of the automotive events. I mean, Jim, first of all, let's just start with just based on our prior conversation that the audience didn't hear. How many automotive events do you like? What's your schedule? Like? How many automotive events are you going to a year in a normal

Unknown Speaker  3:11  
year? It can change from day to day literally. My schedule this week in addition to working with you involves working on a story for crankshaft magazine about the Briggs Cunningham commissioned rebodied Cadillac, I guess is the is the most succinct description of it. It's famously known as a monster, and it ran Amman in 1950 and mansion 11 811. Please finish after Briggs Cunningham managed to stuffed into a sand bank at the end of on and thereby regret his decision not to follow Phil Walters advice and equip each car with a shovel. I guarantee you never made that mistake again. And I mean, I'm active in the local real estate in the local motor sports community down here. I'm an elector and sometime researcher for the Motor Sports Hall of Fame of America which is about three miles away from here daytona international speedway. Having been moved there a few years ago from Novi, Michigan. I'm active with the motor racing history associates, which is led in great measure by my friend buzzer McKim, who is the founding director of the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte. That position now being pulled held by my friend, Tom Jensen, former contributor to speed sport, like myself a little on the current contributor. I recently begun writing for performance racing industry magazine. As I said, I write for Hemmings. I'm lead writer for The Hemmings options point.

Jeff Sterns  4:58  
Let me interrupt you about Hemmings. If I'm not mistaken. You do four titles. And we met by the way, I mean, the way I found you was

Unknown Speaker  5:06  
there's more than that, but we'll get to that.

Jeff Sterns  5:09  
Okay, okay. Okay, if we're going to get to that that's great because I'm really curious about that and how I found you and became your fan and not quite groupie was crankshaft. Okay? As a matter of fact,

Unknown Speaker  5:21  
okay, I guess biographically after being raised in Brooklyn, New York, where my exposure to cars was largely dominated by salivating over Michael abbraccio Mentos gold with white wall tires. I remember 1965 I think it was series one, II type two plus two, first one I'd ever seen. He also owned a 1963 Buick Riviera, that was also painted gold and my parents moved to southern New Jersey, outside Philadelphia in 1968, and I was largely raised there through my adolescence of teen years. And once I graduated college, I actually worked in law enforcement there briefly, and pivoted into journalism, and worked for a local daily newspaper in a highly competitive market for 22 years, developing in addition to my reporting and editing duties that I held at various times, developing a readership base, I guess, I should say, by covering both new cars and motor sports. In addition to my regular duties, what year what era please.

Unknown Speaker  6:48  
I worked there full time from 1980 to 2002. In that period of time, I became acquainted with Dr. Dick Berggren, who was then the owner of stock car racing and also justice famously open wheel magazine, which he founded. And I have been reading stock car racing since I found my very first copy of it in a new stand underneath the elevated train line on Fulton Street, Brooklyn, in 1968. I can tell you exactly which is sure was, it was the one with David Pearson in the Holman moody to Reno. In the pits, it is what I think was rocking him. A dick and I corresponded for a while before he encouraged me to contribute articles to his magazine, and then later encouraged me to pick up the camera for the first time. And I was a regular contributor to stock car and open wheel for the rest of theirs existences including being named to their coverage team for the Knoxville nationals. That's still one of my proudest accomplishments in journalism, was getting to cover Knoxville for open wheel. It was a wonderful experience. And that's when I thought I I truly arrived as a journalist. regardless of whatever I'd done at the newspaper. I was actually covering the greatest sprint car race and the greatest short track event in the world. There was a it was good feeling. Yeah, that was my benchmark. That's my yardstick, the clips that I accumulated from Deke. And from working at the newspaper where I was fortunate enough, as I've been throughout my career, to have been mentored by some very skillful and generous people led me to discover that Hemmings was looking for an editor. I can't sit here and tell you really definitively that I was really willing to make a change, or preparing to make a change, especially one that involves moving to Vermont. But I did, I was able to immediately distort photographing cars in magazine quality layouts, and writing about them in depth. And I stayed with Hemmings until I accepted a an early retirement in 2017. And I've stayed with them. I'm still a contributor to them. I don't have the title senior editor anymore, but that's okay. Because I am the lead writer for their newly established auction site, which is doing a fabulous business with a with a sell through rate that's close to 90% writing about and an enormous number of highly unusual cars of the process, ranging from an all original Chrysler airflow down to a 1966 Fiat 1600. That was the PC sportsbar. Well, this guy in Miami, who was apparently Have an electrical engineer. Jerry rigged the thing into an Eevee with a battery pack between the frame rails. And he's driving this car around New York City with a $9,000. Or somebody bought it to.

Jeff Sterns  10:16  
I'm looking now the 1600, the little cab I mean, just the little,

Unknown Speaker  10:21  
exactly. Some guy, just some guy living in Miami convert one of those things into an Eevee. In fact, he brought it over, he imported it from Italy. He was from Italy, relocate to Miami, brought the car with him, apparently somehow worked in the tech industry down there and converted into an Eevee in his driveway and found a buyer. God bless him.

Jeff Sterns  10:45  
God bless him. Well, I do get a look at that Hemings auction a lot. And it's amazing how these online yet I would have never predicted at 10 years ago that cars would be setting records the way they are and the sell through rate. You mentioned Hemmings having a 90% self through rate on these auctions. That's incredible. Where you can't go to me where you can't go, I would have never, we can't go inspect the car.

Unknown Speaker  11:09  
Yeah, but that's the power of Hemmings. I learned that very early in my career there I'd learned two things. When I first showed up in Vermont, in Bennington, actually three things, which was that the blue Ben is a great diner that bakes tremendous triple berry pancakes. I learned that first, a little bit later, I also learned that Hemings as a brand enjoys enormous credibility, because it's always been true to what it is. And it's always been a trusted source of information for people who want to buy either entire old car, just a little piece of it. So it follows then logically, that by entering the world of auctions, they're going to bring some of that credibility along baked into their product. And by god it's been working out wonderfully

Jeff Sterns  11:59  
Alright, so I'm definitely not trying to be argumentative. I want to talk to you about I mean, what bring a trailer is doing what cars and bids is doing. I mean, I'm just amazed at the online auction space. And I believe that in Hemmings is the granddaddy. No doubt,

Unknown Speaker  12:14  
actually, we're really a late comer. But we're bringing a value system with us. That is well demonstrated well proven and well respected in the world. We have it.

Jeff Sterns  12:24  
Well put, well put now you're a New York automotive journalist. But you seem a little young,

Unknown Speaker  12:31  
New Jersey. I was born and I was born in Brooklyn. I was raised in New Jersey, I identify as a New Jersey.

Jeff Sterns  12:37  
Wow. Okay. And that's funny because most people in New Jersey that went to New York one time would rather say they're from New York, so I'm proud of you for that.

Unknown Speaker  12:45  
See this shirt under my Knoxville Raceway shirt. This is a Philadelphia Eagles shirt. Just say.

Jeff Sterns  12:52  
Okay, so this is gonna lead me to ask do you know, Marty? Sure.

Unknown Speaker  12:55  
Absolutely. I know him. Well. He was my immediate contact with Buick for more than 20 years. And he took me out one of the most exciting. It wasn't even the press introduction. It was a fantastic program that they put on at Phoenix international raceway, which was not a new model rollout but it was just a recognition of what they've done in mode they had done in in both production cars and motor sports. With the turbocharged V six, I got to drive one of the last Buick gn X has ever built. At the same event. I got to get taken out a lap around the track in the Grand National with Jim Crawford. The who once held the track record in Indianapolis and I also got taken down the pit lane is superstock I think g automatic Grand National driven by Kenny duck well I learned the master of the turbocharged view of the six I'm told there's a photo of me riding in that car in the right seat botched with my head down somewhere my chin down somewhere around the lap belt buckle

Jeff Sterns  14:06  
riding in a passenger seat with a professional driver on a track can be to me very hairy were you used to it okay with it. I could never stand it like I'm thinking I'd be breaking right now i'd be breaking when you're in the passenger seat.

Unknown Speaker  14:21  
I had never experienced the launch in what was probably close to 1000 horsepower, super stocker with 588 or 620 years. But I will tell you this that at one mile track in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, which was directly next door to the one half mile track, as with Pennsylvania, at the time, known as Pennsylvania International Raceway and owned by Roger Penske. I got taken around in an Iraq cars passenger to Rusty Wallace. There was a little bit of a problem You can always see me from the chest up here I'm I'm rather large I wear like a size 46 suit. Okay and and I you know and i can i can benchpress like a fair amount of weight and things like that. So I'm, I'm not smelt by industry. Nobody's going to mix me up with one of the gymnast in Tokyo right now that said I get into the car I climb in through the passenger window because there was no window they've taken out some Iraq. At that point they were probably still Camaros they hadn't switched to dodge yet. And I climb into the car and Rusty's in the seat just looking at me. And the person who had written in it before me was a very diminutive young female TV reporter from one of the Allentown stations, and I couldn't get the belts around. I couldn't do it. I mean, they were like four or five inches short. I mean, somebody would have had taken a machete to me to get them to fit. So I just look over rusty and he looks over at me and I said, You know what? I said, Just go. I trust you. Just I said, Let's go fast. And he did. He gave me like seven laps each each one deepened, breaking more deeply than the other which which at that track was kind of a challenge because Nazareth is was actually a five cornered oval that ran uphill and downhill pretty severely. And it originally been a dirt track that measured one and a half miles to the lab. After it went bankrupt, Roger bought it so he had a place to test his Indy cars, and they had a lot of good races there under his tutelage. And also NASCAR's to Lich. But I was dumb enough to get in the car until rusty walls yeah go at scared.

Jeff Sterns  16:51  
Did you get you get scared or not? I mean, like, what I mean, even though you're trying to be cool or intellectually you understand that he's a professional, but I mean, do you get scared?

Unknown Speaker  16:59  
My credo is you only die once? Who cares? You can only get her for so long. Yeah, I was scared I figured what's going to happen it's gonna happen. I said, Don't worry, I ain't gonna sue you.

Jeff Sterns  17:09  
Well, you know I can't really see your build but you mentioned you know you're not svelte. We're not going to make you up with a Tokyo gymnast and you can benchpress quite a bit but so far on two references in a short time you talked about the best pizza in town and the best pancakes in town. So you know, I was gonna I could have made a guess. Anyway, I'm

Unknown Speaker  17:29  
six foot two and about 260 pounds, which is larger than most race drivers are?

Jeff Sterns  17:35  
Yes. And you know, it's funny I had another show with a fella named Don who ditzy and who's an ex Ferrari exact Bentley exact and he did some laps with Derrick bell in the passenger seat and I don't remember what kind of car

Unknown Speaker  17:49  
there saw. But Amelie, it looks great. Yeah, I love I love to have an experience like that.

Jeff Sterns  17:55  
Well, it's funny, because he said that making some turn. Derek missed the apex a little. And then after he missed it, he asked Don, what do you weigh? And Don said, 230 or, you know, whatever he said, and he said, okay, and the next time around, he did it perfect. And your story reminded me of it because the prior passenger in the car was somebodies teenage daughter that, you know, may have been 100 pounds. But to me, I was amazed at the story because when I drive I can't make a difference between something in my trunk or not or the size of the passenger. But imagine being able to do the calculation. There's 100 150 pound difference in the passenger seat. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker  18:41  
yeah. And, and Rusty, you know, Rusty, and I kind of like knew each other already. I mean, he knew who I was, and I knew who he was obviously. And, and the whole thing was played for laughs But I had another experience at a new car production that truly did scare the living hell out of me. And that took place in probably 1990 when the Audi 80 and 90 as they were then called, were introduced me so basically we're talking about essentially an upgraded Volkswagen facade here. They had the introduction at Bridgehampton Raceway in Long Island, which have been closed for considerable time already. At least as far as pro level Motorsports goes I think they were still actually having some some club events there. But that was the absolute limit of it. So as you rent this place out and they fly said they flew me from Philadelphia to Islip, New York. And I just remember it was a really long time to get to the track. When I got there. They went through the normal introduction and then they they they introduce the driver who's going to take us four laps around this place and and the driver was doc Bundy. dot Bundy was one of the top guys In the MC GTP series so he was used to reef. I know he drove for the Corvette MC GTP program. So you're talking to twin turbo V six here with probably on the order of 900 horsepower. And Bridgehampton was a very in terms of safety and other facilities, I guess you'd call it. Bridgehampton was really primitive. It first of all, it was a disused racetrack. And and secondly, it was it was built in an era where there was no consideration for either participant or spectator safety. And thought gets me in the right seat and just goes absolutely flat to mad around this place in and out 90 Quadro, and I really thought I was gonna die. I really did. That was a scary, it was scary and an entertaining kinda way. And I trusted God because he was obviously a proven world class race driver. But to be put in that position when you're totally helpless is, I guess it must be. It must, in some ways parallel with feeling good being born as feel like,

Jeff Sterns  21:13  
I don't know anyone that's comfortable in the passenger seat, you know, in, in these race situations. I was actually talking to Derek Bell, about that on one of these shows. And I said, just tell me the truth. Are you okay in the passenger seat or not? He said no. And he understands what's going on?

Unknown Speaker  21:32  
No, no, I managed to scare myself pretty thoroughly on one of those events. And it was a it was a short lead Chevy introduction in 1996. That was at Road America. And they brought a bunch of experimental engineering bucks for us to drive but I got to take take out a Corvette Grand Sport and it was a new mile that year, if you remember with the chevron type stripes on the front fenders, and they're they have a succession of people who are waiting to get to get inside the car, do at least one lap and including myself. So I get a board this thing and and head out of the pits. And I'm going down on my very first lap of going down the long back street at Elkhart Lake, which as you might know, ends in about a 110 degree left hand first gear corner, treacherous. Yeah, and I'm about two thirds of the way down straight away, just like laying eyes prior and about 140. And I tap the brakes and nothing happened. So I tap them again. And it Nothing happened that time either. So by this time, I'm trying to squeeze the brake pedal down to the floor with my left foot while I'm while I've just got my, my other foot on the throttle. And the pedals just go on foot going straight to the floor. I got no brakes. There's nothing, you know, the pedals. Like, completely useless.

Jeff Sterns  23:08  
So when did you decide to take your right foot off the gas?

Unknown Speaker  23:12  
right about that. And I managed, I managed to like gently squeeze the emergency brake enough to scrub off some speed to the point where I could actually safely downshift the thing without locking up the back wheels and throw me into the spin. And it wasn't too elegant. But I did manage to make it around the corner one piece and went straight to the pistons just parked the car is done. And it was they didn't use it again. They

Jeff Sterns  23:41  
pulled the brake fluid right out of it. The no brakes thing. Yeah, that's out. Yeah, yeah, that

Unknown Speaker  23:46  
was no fun. But most of the rest of it was

Jeff Sterns  23:52  
you're able to extract the positive.

Unknown Speaker  23:55  
Oh, always. In my career, I driven a lot of cool cars, did what at least I think is some good and responsible journalism about cars and a lot of other things I was fortunate enough to be trained and mentored by some really good people. So I saw tremendous racing and saw some of the greatest people the sport has ever seen. The most talented and brave and skillful drivers to ever turn a wheel, watch them at the peak of their powers, got to write about it, got to meet them. And I have no complaints.

Jeff Sterns  24:32  
For those of us not in your business. Trying to think about this through your eyes. You've had to have been some extremely interesting places around the world if you just had to tick off four or five of them. places you've been and what was so interesting about it or romantic about it or impressive about it or you wouldn't believe because it's so low key. I mean what here

Unknown Speaker  24:56  
I'll tell you I'll tell you a good story. When I was at Hemmings For most of the time I was there we typically at least once a year had a cruise for our readers. And one year that cruise took us all around the Mediterranean, which included a stop in Monaco. And I got to walk the circuit, which was nice. In the process of walking it, I did three things. Number one, I got invited aboard some presumably Arabic guys yacht, which had a bell jet Ranger helicopter on the deck. He just I was wanting to rally by me come aboard. So I did. The next thing that happened was I went to a coffee shop across from the casino, the famous casino along the course. And I paid 12 bucks for a cup of coffee. It's the most money I ever spent for a cup of coffee in my life. And it wasn't even that great a cup of a cup of coffee, I got a better cup from Dunkin this morning, that that happened. And then while I was walking from the guy's yacht to the to the coffee shop, I passed two places, one of which was where you could hire a Ferrari F 430, which I believe was a new car back then, you know, open seat mid engine, mega buck, exotic and get taken around the course not dry, but can take it as a pasture around the course and this thing, one lap 330 euros that's on the way to the coffee shop. bypass a cafe, like most places, places in France, unlike the United States, you go by a restaurant, there's a menu outside, I took a picture of the menu, it's on my portable hard drive. Because on it, they had a cheeseburger for 32 euros. You know how much that costs into you know how much that was in 2011 about 40 bucks. So you can get it you can go to Monaco and get a cheeseburger for 40

Jeff Sterns  27:02  
bucks with a $12 cup of coffee perfect and it's what

Unknown Speaker  27:05  
with a $12 cup of coffee. You know I mean, I mean in this in that tab it you know liquors literally cheaper than coffee. So that's one that's one story but I say that kind of humorously because I can add to that story by saying what moves me watching the field line up for wide for the a main at the Knoxville nationals on the final night. And know you've just seen the most competitive qualifying in motor sport anywhere in the world. No race is harder to qualify for than the Knoxville nationals. Or to stand on the balcony at the media center of the pagoda at Indianapolis and watch the crowd stand up and scream as one when they come down to take the green which no TV image properly captures it can or to stand on what what race fans called beer Hill. It literally is a hill that overlooks turn three at Williams Grove Speedway, and have somebody who would be a good guy to do this, let's say Keith Kaufman when he was still driving the man from mifflintown who would drive deep into the cushion and stick his right rear in there full throttle, and throw up a clod of dirt about this big that would smack you right in the chest. which happened to me. Okay, that's fine. That's enjoyable.

Jeff Sterns  28:38  
So how about a road course though? Jim, how long can you watch a road course race for you're standing at your corner waiting every four and a half minutes or whatever for your car to come around?

Unknown Speaker  28:46  
pends on the road course I'd like I've asked myself that question more than once because I'd like to go to Oman and I'm wondering what kind of spectator experience

Jeff Sterns  28:56  
your car comes around about every four and a half minutes at Lamont?

Unknown Speaker  28:59  
Yeah, well, it's not it's and it's more than that because I just was exchanging emails with a gentleman in France, named Graham gold who's a journalist and I just bought Graham robes since history of Cosworth. from him, he advertised in the Facebook group for auto racing book collectors. Anyway, he said to get credential for women basically, you have to have a full fire suit to get anywhere into the park for me or anything like that. My road course experiences, however, include places like like Lime Rock Park woods, usually fun to watch a race especially if you get a big pack of cars trying to negotiate Big Bend at once in the Edit down the hill, under the bridge. It's not going to take them for Miss get back. Maybe the teachable lesson here is that in many cases a shorter course tends to produce more readily digestible racing that you can consume all at once with a smile on your face.

Jeff Sterns  30:09  
Don't argue that at all. No. Speaking of llama, Derek Bell was named, he'll be grand marshal at the upcoming llama that was just announced. So very fitting choice. Yeah, good for him. Yeah, good for him. So I'm gonna look at. I don't have to look at my notes. I just there's some things I don't want to forget to ask you about. One of the things we were talking cars and trucks in Brooklyn. Aside from

Unknown Speaker  30:33  
Mike Brashear Meadows Jaguar. My actual earliest exposure to auto racing is linked to Brooklyn, which once used to have a very famous sports Speedway in Sheepshead Bay. And we're Ralph De Palma, who lived in Brooklyn for a very long time. Was was a frequent winner. When I was a kid, I can remember I used to go my father went away to see because he was a he was an engine board room Officer of oil tankers he had served in what's commonly called the merchant marine during World War Two, and fall It was a Mariner all his life. So he was gone for extended periods, and I was kind of the man the house, when I would go shopping for my mother, which, believe it or not included buying cartons of cigarettes from the key food when I was about six years old and bring them home to work. I have vivid memories of a still in service, shame drive, a C Mac, the infamous legendary Mac Bulldog, with a huge steak body on it, bring in crates of vegetables, and back then that's what they were in. They were actually in wooden crates that were nailed shut and bailed up with wire. And he would bring them to this key food supermarket on Liberty Avenue and just offload them he was if I had to guess he was most likely coming from where most proofs in the New York metro area comes from today. The Hunts Point market in the South Bronx. This truck had an open exhaust with it with an exit plate that was probably you know, this big round and no muffler. And it had pneumatic tires. I do recall seeing some solid tire trucks still as a kid growing up. That wasn't one of them. But when when he actually cranked that engine after they offloaded the crates into the back loading dock of the supermarket, it just echoed off the buildings and down a few blocks away from there was I'll tell you what I can even show you. a filing cabinet was the firehouse that dated back to the bid the 1860s where this company was based. This fire truck I'm showing you right now, it was engine 236 on Liberty Avenue. And in those days, that engine company used a word with France pumper, which also had an open exhaust and completely obviated the need for a siren on truck. Because you could hear that thing coming down the street from the minute they pulled it out of the apparatus Bay. By the way, the firehouse had a key stone over the apparatus store. It was a single Bay firehouse. It dated back to the Forster on a tour of the building was so old, it's still in use is still an active New York City firehouse. There's a be engraved into key stone. And that stands for Brooklyn Fire Department. So the building actually predated the organization of FDNY into a single agency, which was in 1865. So that was a great thing to see. And my mother was originally from a little town between Johnstown and Altoona in Pennsylvania, and typically once a year, we'd head out there to visit and it was, to me it was so long it might have been might as well have been a lunar mission even though it was probably only about a five hour drive, going down the Pennsylvania Turnpike and looking up at these Macs and peterbilts. And internationals and also what the German bill costs brought our motor coaches custom motor coaches the Continental trailways us back then the first Silver Eagle pluses and hearing the rumble they're diesels smelling the smoke from their exhausts at watching them just Just arc by and wondering where they were going. It was it put me on a journey that is never ending. Yes, it really hasn't ended. It was a wonderful place. And I never know where my destination is and that's half the fun.

Jeff Sterns  35:16  
That's fabulous, which I think we talked about but you tell me and we can edit you know, leave things in, leave things out, but we're talking about discovering motorsport, Langhorne East Windsor, etc. Did we sort of cover that or should we talk about that?

Unknown Speaker  35:31  
No, actually, we didn't because we kind of touched on it because this actually is involves a story to one day when I was kid I was probably going to zips candy store. a candy store is something that's in every Brooklyn neighborhood you get a cream get cigarettes, get candy, get newspapers and some you get a bed nap. And I was walking down there and or riding my bicycle and all of a sudden I saw going the opposite way going eastbound on Liberty Avenue which led to the parkway setting out well now I saw a pickup truck hauling what was a 1949 to 51 Ford totally gutted out painted red yellow, including with the disc wheels have painted yellow and half painted red on opposite sides. If I remember right was number 71. I didn't know what to make of except it excited me like and it was God just as quickly as I saw it. Much later, I found out that he was probably heading toward a track called Freeport Stadium, which was at sunrise highway, not far from New York City, probably realistically about a half hour away. And where I'm actually writing today about a driver who started his career there. His name was Ted tappet. Okay, he was a major driver and under his given name, Phil Walters, he was America's first true post war road racing star and was a mentor to a very young Dan Gurney. I also found out much later that New York City had a stock car track, which very few people know about. It was a little either 1/5 or one six mile oval on Staten Island, called y square stadium. Think it was named after the neighborhood because there was also a waste glass dairies on long on Staten Island have very long time. And it was kind of near the Bayonne bridge that went over to New Jersey. I didn't know this track existed until well after I moved to New Jersey to track close but one of the big guns of that track was a guy named buddy Laredo, who son Roger later became a major dirt modified star in New Jersey and whom I saw just barely lose a Flemington. 202 billion pouch. One year. Buddy Laredo was the big star of Weis glass stadium. When we moved to New Jersey, one time we were driving on the turnpike, and near exit eight hightstown was a junked. I shouldn't say jumped it was jumped at that time, but it was jumped 37 or 36 Ford coupe. And it was painted red and white and it was up on a berm on along the north, the northbound lanes and I managed to get a glimpse of it said stock car racing East Windsor Speedway Friday night 7:30pm. And I managed to find area auto racing news which was already doing a good business in one of the local like grocery stores around where we live. And I did find an ad for East Windsor in there and my father took me and it was like nothing I'd ever seen before my life. There were pre war coupes and sedans, coupled with these wildly chopped up Ford Mustangs and Ford Falcon bodied open wheel cars that were blasting at each other on a dirt track, crammed sideways, full contact racing. Every car different from every other car back then, though Pinto bodies yet the Pinto Pinto was still few years away. And I was just absolutely throttled by it. I mean, it was it was one of those moments in your life where you know your life is never going to be the same again. It had that level of power on me.

Jeff Sterns  39:58  
It was your destiny. Most It was your life before that and your life after that.

Unknown Speaker  40:03  
Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And the life before it I basically, you know, it's nothing I even really think that much about anymore. Because before that it really didn't matter. That's what gave it meaning for me. And we found Langhorne Speedway completely by accident. You see what you have to understand, Jeff is, I grew up in New York City and I had no idea any of this stuff existed. Because there was no source of information on a this that was circulated in the city. I mean, you had to go to New Jersey, or maybe even a free port, you had to go to a track and find a newspaper like area auto racing news, or like national speed sport news, to just be aware that this prior universe of short track racing, all over the country, which you were totally oblivious about even existed. I had no idea because the only auto racing I had seen on TV was the clips from ABCs Wide World of Sports. And back then they almost never covered short track stuff. So the entire universe racing in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, upstate New York, and endpoints West New England, I had no knowledge of it. Until it I just stumbled on it all at once. And basically, my life just took an exit ramp there and just kept right on going and still going. That was

Jeff Sterns  41:34  
that was the destiny moment,

Unknown Speaker  41:36  
I guess. Yeah, forces beyond me control that. I was just along for the ride.

Jeff Sterns  41:42  
So what about East Windsor? Flemington Bridgeport, New

Unknown Speaker  41:46  
Jersey as it exists today, that there's no other way to express this. It's a very hostile environment for anybody who wants to be an auto racing. Within the past two weeks, I wrote a story for speed sport for which I'm now a regular contributor on the history of a little tiny, tiny Speedway called pine Brook stadium that used to exist on Route 46. right on the border of Mars, and I guess that's Passaic counties. A little bit West New York City on what is today a major shopping strip, very dense suburban has. Back then they ran three quarter midgets on on Friday nights and the fourth race meet they ever held. The guy who plays second in the feature was Mario Andretti. And I think the guy I would have to look at the story text to remember but i believe i believe I'm right in saying this, so please bear with me. I'm the guy who beat Mario Andretti. That night was Jim Hendrickson, who became a legend in modified stock cars on Long Island at places like Freeport, and like Islip Speedway, and Riverhead Raceway which is still operational today. pinebrook could not survive in that environment, the land underneath it was just too valuable and too highly taxed. to support us a seasonal activity, like auto racing, especially what let's face is a fringe of auto racing aimed at a highly focused audience. East Windsor was a very nice, beautifully maintained, I need to make that very clear by Don Jones and his family. beautifully maintained a half mile dirt track in an area. That's only I'm doing the math mentally right now I'd say at the most two miles from the New Jersey Turnpike exit. Well, if you have vacant land, in New Jersey, it's two miles from a Turnpike interchange. Guess what happens? You're gonna have an explosion of high priced housing and high price retail to save to serve. And that's what happened to East Windsor. All the land around there was was carved up for these gentlemen farmsteads where there's like 24 2600 square foot colonial on a house, have some on a land plot with the little barn and a rail fence or maybe a keep a pony or something like that. That's what ran the horsepower off. Little horsepower. Flemington Speedway, the most magical, unforgettable, exciting, compelling, filthy, dangerous, loud, eternally mobbed Weekly Race Track I ever experienced. It was a four quarter square racetrack. So wherever he said assuming you were sitting in the stands because they had no conventional Media Center there, there was no such thing. They had a big covered grandstand and bleachers going almost all the way around the track and gates around it through which the race teams that were pitted in the infield report. And every program started out with the golden tones of Bill singer, same clothes, all gates around the speedway, please, if you went there, you would be inevitably sitting on the outside of a corner. Because if you're ready to take the track in any kind of race and speed, you're diverting the corners to the point where the track was a circle, now, not a square. And these guys were going absolutely flat out in a sprint car. Flemington was no livetrack Doug Wolfgang who I saw both when there and hit the wall so hard, he broke a sprint car completely into call it the most frightening track you'd ever read. driven in his life. You were flat out, you could not see the eggs to the corner as a driver. So you could you could go headlong into a pile up, you can even see. And meanwhile, as far in the outside of the track, the fans are sitting in the stands getting absolutely, if you can imagine a blizzard of dirt being propelled at you by a gale force when that's what being in the stands of Flemington was like, people came there wearing goggles. And with bandana stayed over their face. I saw that, okay. So you'd be you'd be there with these copper these guys and big block modifieds going by, you're completely sideways, just a few feet away. And if somebody got into the fence there and flipped, which was usually good to happen about two or three times every single night. I mean, I saw cars get into the stance there several times.

Jeff Sterns  47:04  
Talk about a visceral experience, and it was

Unknown Speaker  47:07  
a big party because I mean, if you spend enough time there, you would probably sooner rather than later realize I'm trying to put this politely as I can. that a lot of the people in attendance there were not raised. Are you are you reading me here? They were their party. They were like, they were like that, like snake Indianapolis snake pit type denizens who showed up at this track, because there was no spectator gate. You bought your tickets when you drove onto the property like a drag strip. And there was no spectator gates. So you parked in the lodge just walk to your seat. And these people walk in, they're carrying like two or three cases beard again through the night. And it was nuts. It was like it was like Woodstock or like or like Altmire every, every Saturday night there. And when Flemington first paved and then closed. All those people just disappeared. I have no idea what happened to him. I can tell you they didn't show up at the other race tracks because I looked. They didn't show up in Orange County. They didn't show up at Grandview. They didn't show up at Wells stadium to watch cars on asphalt because when Flemington closed it was a big track

Jeff Sterns  48:25  
well what do you mean you look they didn't go to the others you look like you're auditing who went to one or another

Unknown Speaker  48:31  
not auditing in the mathematical or accounting sense but I mean you could see if you walk through spectator area, I mean, you had the same groups of fans have been coming for years to put their blankets on the seats in the same location. Okay, okay. Or sign in. And none of these checks and I Oh, and also the reason I know is because I asked some of the promoters I said, Have you picked up any of the Flemington crap? I know as Bruce Rogers in Grandview that he goes, No, he goes, No, none of them analyze that crowd did come from Pennsylvania. And I asked john Snyder, who covered the races at Orange County and did and did their PR for light years. Still does matter of fact, john Snyder from air aryana Racing news. Very good calmness. I said john, you get at speed No, they disappeared they found something else to do. Maybe they took up darts or something. I don't know.

Jeff Sterns  49:25  
Okay, well, so that was a phenomena on its own that like you said, not necessarily into the racing. It was just like a social experiment.

Unknown Speaker  49:33  
I got to go to Ascot once. Dick Berger and he encouraged me to go there and I was actually I was on an automotive event out there for Volkswagen it was the introduction at of the the Jetta g Li. The first Jetta GLS has been like making at 89 fee. Let me drive one away from the event which was held at saika. And that was, that's a fun place to drive. It Certainly not going to claim any skill in the corkscrew. At least not that kind of

Jeff Sterns  50:05  
corkscrew. Now I've never driven Laguna Seca but during pebble though that's the monitor the Monterey historics. Unbelievable.

Unknown Speaker  50:13  
Yeah, one of the greatest sort of events in the world the greatest but I got to drive GLA away from this and I ended up at Ascot for the Don Peabody classic. First time I was ever in Los Angeles kariega jania credential agajanian credential me and I was wearing a Fleming t shirt that night, I had people coming up to me in the stands to say, Wow, you've been Flemington. I said, Yeah, so he lived near there. And what's it like? isn't as wild as they say it is? Yeah. I said, you only saw the part that got into that got into the magazines. I said, Imagine what the rest of it is like. Yeah, so it was it was a lot of fun. Yeah, Flemington was. I mean, it's one of these things in life that falls into the category of too good to last. It was an aesthetic triumph of dirt track racing because to get around there quickly, and stay out of trouble. was not an easy thing to do. If you if you if you want to major race Flemington like the 200 laughter they had every year or any world of outlaws race that they had their or URC sprint car race. That was an accomplishment. It definitely dodged a bullet. At any driver racer will tell you that. I mean, Billy patch one 114 modified features there. That tells me how good he is.

Jeff Sterns  51:40  
Guy amazing how about if you don't mind talking about your radio and book career a little bit. Let's let's

Unknown Speaker  51:46  
take them in order because I've done it I've done a number of I've never attempted to do it on anything other than really what I'm doing here as a guest on somebody else's program. That said it's I still enjoy it immensely. As a hemming senior editor, I was a frequent really upped it got to the point where as every other week guest co host on Ronda naini ins program, the car doctor, which at the time was carried on WR am in New York City. That's a 50,000 watt Clear Channel station. Wonderful, wonderful experience. I say that we'll wistfully and a little emotionally because I grew up listening to that station as a kid in New York. My mother would have it on I would listen to the gamblings and, and Dr. Bernard Meltzer, and I can't think of the lady's name right now. She was on What's My Line, she had a, she had a program on there. But a way to be able to broadcast over those airwaves was was a real point of pride. And I was humbled by it. I mean, I felt a link to those people that were a part of my past. I mean, I consider them part of my family because I heard their voices every day. Ryan, I had a really good time with that program. And it lasted until I'm going to exercise some discretion here and not disclose the company other than to characterize it is a one of the major am broadcast chains in the United States. They brought who are from the family they don't it was a family run radio station in New York City, immediately fired the entire staff, all of which was local, including Ron and even including the gambling family, which had been on the station as on air talent for three generations going back really to when it first went on the air at the end of the 1920s. Three full generations of the gambling family. Well, so as Ron said, and I've I've always tried to remember, you have worked in radio, fire. So now I have I worked for that station, and I still periodically contribute to les am station Bennington, Vermont, W btn, where my former Hemmings co worker, David Nutter has a an automotive show. It's a low power station. When I lived across the line in New York State, I couldn't pick it up because the signal wasn't strong enough. But it's still a wonderful experience to be able to connect with an audience like that using just your words, and the sound of your voice. More recently. I appear on I've been on it a couple of times, the legends of racing, a show that is hosted by buzz McKim, like I said, was the founding director of the NASCAR Hall of Fame and is now my neighbor. We present that person program when I'm on it. He presents the program I should say more More, more accurately from a restaurant called Racing's North churn in Ponce Inlet, which is actually located on the former North turn of the beach course. The turns still there. And the paralleling stretch of Florida State Route 81. A still has the pavement that the racers drove on. It still is the pavement dating back to the 50s. And I also am a more regular guests on in the pits radio, which is hosted by my friend and fellow Bishop Eustace prepare Tory's School graduate Larry O'Donoghue, and formerly included among its cast members. Our late friend Dave Ryan injure, who was a very good automotive journalist, but more notably won the Indianapolis 500 twice as a team spotter once for Dario Franchitti, and once for Tony, come on. I have an enormous amount of fun on that show talking about my newspaper past my magazine present my radio past and present. Larry and I on the last broadcast we did two weeks ago. We spent about 10 minutes, excoriating the memory of the French teacher should use this flump this both. Mr. lebrun air for story.

Jeff Sterns  56:42  
Should we talk about that?

Unknown Speaker  56:43  
Sure. If you like we put up anything like that sounds interesting. What Mr. Lestrade? Air flunking me. No, I'll tell you what I'll say. I'll tell you this when I was in France, both for Hemmings and subsequently, when my fiance and I were there on a river cruises then, a couple of years ago. I'll say this. I mean, he may have flunked me but what he did teach me stuck with me because I was able to communicate there France and be perfectly understood. No kidding after all yours. Yeah, I graduated high school in 1974.

Jeff Sterns  57:18  
Well, that's incredible to me that you failed it and didn't have any reason to use it. And then enough of it stuck with you.

Unknown Speaker  57:28  
Yeah, I never knew that chance to really try it in Montreal. I was up. I shot a couple of cars in Quebec for Hemmings, but I never really tried to do it. I was there for other reasons, obviously. Yeah, I can, I can speak it, read it and write it.

Jeff Sterns  57:43  
That's incredible. And I mean, that in the fact that it worked at all in Quebec, where it's Quebec, Wah French, not even France French. I'm in Monaco.

Unknown Speaker  57:53  
Right. And I'll say as delicately as I can my my now former wife, and I decided to take a take a train ride up to nice. next major stop north on SNCF, the National railroad of France. I'm also a rail fan. I need to get that out. I love railroading. I love trains. I love model trains. I love reading about trains and there's a Florida East Coast mainline about about three quarters of a mile down the street here that I love listening to about 3am and to try to make sure I'm up to do it. Anyway, we were going to find this which station Am I America? I don't know where we're going you know i mean i know it you know okay, you can see the Harvard's right there. I don't know where to see two paramedics there with a with a medic unit. You know an ambulance I walk up to these guys say excuse Mr. ligera. And then Oh, the train station. It's right over there. He right there. Just walk. Yeah. When we were actually in France, it's a little bit off topic because it's not. It's not really automotive subject wise, although we went through a traffic brewery that said it was 14 kilometers away from Amman on the way to Normandy. I did much better when we were there in 2018 because I had a lot more ability to interact with people who just lived in the towns that we visited including our mashes near near Omaha Beach, and oversee away which is where Van Gogh lived. And whilst we visit, we stayed in Paris for about a week. We also went to Ron and I actually had to find a pharmacy when I was there and get a get a painkiller for my for my fiance's back and be able to communicate with the with the pharmacist while we were there. So it was nice to be able to carry it off.

Jeff Sterns  59:57  
To me. It's really amazing that you retain it like I honestly,

Unknown Speaker  1:00:01  
yeah. And you know what, a lot of people really never get to experience another culture at all. A good way to start is to do it through cuisine. I mean, I was a believer in app serving, I equate myself to Anthony Bourdain. But his viewpoint that it's it's kind of a cultural gateway for a lot of people, certainly in my viewpoint for a long time, it's nice to be able to be to be able to visit a foreign land, and to be able to communicate with the people who live there and their native tongue. Simply it's a matter of respect, and show and a demonstration that you're interested enough in the world that they occupy, to learn its language.

Jeff Sterns  1:00:46  
So you're not a typical American offended if someone can't speak English anywhere you go to help you out when you're

Unknown Speaker  1:00:55  
not at all because I've had people I've had people helped me out in other countries, I mean, by didn't just go to Monaco. on that trip. We also went to Croatia, and Spain, and four or five places in Italy, including Turkey, Amina and Sicily, and other on other cruises that I went on, representing Hemmings to our readers, we went to places including Jamaica, Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, there, he had a chance to go through the Panama Canal, do it, it is, is an incredible experience. It's it's as much an engineering marvel as anything you'll ever see in your life. But I got a chance to learn that, in part because I interacted with people that I just happen to meet on the street or in a bar or in a restaurant or in a shop. I'm trying, I guess not to be an arrogant or borsch visitor to their country. I mean, I'm a guest. And I need to show them respect. And I think that's one way you can really do it, is by trying to at least express an interest in learning the way that they speak. What is an idiom? What's a common greeting? You know what I learned in France? Anytime you walk into business, what's the first thing you say? Tell us phones, you're

Jeff Sterns  1:02:23  
just bozo just Hello.

Unknown Speaker  1:02:26  
That's customary. If you don't do it, they're gonna be offended. Or they're gonna think you're arrogant. I'll use that word. No kidding. is Sunday.

Jeff Sterns  1:02:36  
So Jim, tell us something. I mean, you've told us a few things. But I don't know who doesn't know what tell us something. Nobody knows about you.

Unknown Speaker  1:02:43  
I used to be a competitive bird watcher.

Jeff Sterns  1:02:48  
Oh, my goodness. Yep. How do you compete birdwatching.

Unknown Speaker  1:02:54  
In my particular case, at the newspaper I work with, I work with three guys who were interested in bird watching, unaware that they were working with other people who were also interested in bird watching, I forget how they all found out, but I ended up getting roped along with a trip to them. And we went from southern New Jersey down to the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, which is kind of like about halfway between Annapolis and Ocean City in Maryland. So it's on the Maryland eastern shore. It's a nesting place for bald eagles. That's the place I saw my first bald eagle. I've seen many others, including about 10 miles away from where I'm sitting right now.

Jeff Sterns  1:03:43  
I'm in Palm Harbor, Florida. About 20 minutes north of Clearwater, we can see a bald eagle from time to time.

Unknown Speaker  1:03:50  
Okay, well, I saw one if you're familiar with the real estate, here are the geography. I saw one. He was actually on the ground. I saw him along pioneer trail in New Smyrna Beach. And it's actually a pretty thickly settled area. So I was pretty surprised to see him there. But we went from there. On another trip we went to a place called Hawk mountain, which is at the border of skolkovo and Berks County, in Pennsylvania. So this is kind of west of the Lehigh Valley and north of Redding. Basically along I 78, little bit north of their beautiful country, again, saw many many Raptors. It took a spat an hour and a half to climb to the top of the mountain. Competitive bird watchings most prominent event takes place every year in Cape May, New Jersey, at the very tip of the bottom of the state that protrudes into the Atlantic Ocean.

Jeff Sterns  1:04:58  
How do you keep score Like, here's the 10 birds you got to see and check off when you see him.

Unknown Speaker  1:05:04  
Well, a Cape May, Cape May is a stopping off point to several 100 species of migratory birds more than any other place in the Western Hemisphere. Why not I went there, it largely worked on the honor system, it was just considered really bad form to suggest you saw a bird when you in fact you had so a lot of people, in addition to saying what they had seen, they would also describe where they saw it, and how they recognize it, which may be by its call, or by its blue image or something like that. The larger point here for me, is that if you want to be a journalist, or a reporter, that is fabulous training, because it is really going to sharpen your visual acuity is going to markedly improve your ability to take in detail in a very compressed timeframe. You may only have a burst of feathers in front of you, your field of vision that you have to identify on that brief sighting. It's really good training for a reporter. It really is because it forces you to be observed.

Jeff Sterns  1:06:18  
Well, you'd mentioned that cheating is bad form. I mean, I think cheating is always bad form. Whether you're writing down, you know, you're skipping a few strokes on your golf score, or cheating is bad, right? Cheating is bad. But really, if it's on our system, somebody in theory, could just say I saw this. And here's where I saw it. And here's how I mean, is there anyone ever been caught and dishonored? Like, is that a thing? Have I ever

Unknown Speaker  1:06:43  
been no have anybody else? Probably? Probably. Yeah, I guess I guess for me, and I can only answer for myself. Your word is really what you are. It's not a thing. It's not a commodity. It's your being it's your core against speaking for myself, I wouldn't want to put myself in a position, especially deliberately, that would cause people to question what I am. I mean, I kind of like going through life knowing secure in the knowledge that other people think I'm reliable. I can complete certain tasks within a certain time frame and do them correctly, that I can be relied on when I put when I promised to do something. Yeah, it partly flows from that. Amen. I wouldn't say it's the overriding determining factor. But yeah, that kind of formed my worldview, to a degree.

Jeff Sterns  1:07:39  
Rest assured, Jim, I'll be making a clip of this and showing it to my sons who I'm very proud of. And I don't have any problem in that department. But I always love reinforcing it dead.

Unknown Speaker  1:07:48  
I bet they're proud of you, too. I

Jeff Sterns  1:07:49  
will. Thank you. Thank you, I hope you know, that's how we live, right? Try to be the example. What would you want us to know about you that I am what

Unknown Speaker  1:07:59  
I present myself as a good journalist who worked really hard, and who respected the craft and still respects it as a foundational element of our society. And as a right, that people died in combat. So I could practice that, right. I mean, I take that very seriously, when you're working as a journalist, I mean, obviously, what unites us is an enthusiasm for, for cars and motor sports, but most of my professional existence, especially during my newspaper days, during that time period, cars really something I did on the periphery of most of my my daily duties, which frequently involve writing about crime. And government, I'm fine to saying that I spent a lot of time and a lot of energy writing about the consequences of other people's stupidity, you're still, even if somebody has done something that ends up with them being removed from political office or facing criminal charges, or potentially being injured or injuring somebody else. You're still dealing with somebody else's reputation as one of your commodities. I mean, it's something that you are presenting to the rest of the world. And that's a lot of power. And it also carries an enormous amount of responsibility, words, and thoughts, and the way that they are expressed really matter. They're really important, and they have enormous consequences. And I always tried to be aware of that and everything I said, and I did. I mean, you have through your work, the power to really elevate people and I I've tried to do that when it was warranted. But you also have the power to destroy them. You can throw a lot of weight, you need to do it very judiciously

Jeff Sterns  1:10:09  
Did you ever feel justified in tearing down a life,

Unknown Speaker  1:10:14  
though I reported the facts as they were presented to me to the best of my ability, if a person's reputation was destroyed, it was usually, in fact, almost exclusively through their own actions. What I tried to do, if I can, if I can just give you an example here, what I tried to do, it's, it's very easy to be softened work as sensationalistic. Especially when you're covering crime, or official misconduct, newspapers and other forms of media, have leverage that, I'll use that word for very many for great many years, going back really to the rise of the daily newspaper in this country. And what I always endeavor to do is try to explain the underlying forces, or causative factors that lead to whatever calamity resulted from in the spirit of saying, Hey, don't do this, because this is how it can get you in trouble. Or to tell a reader, hey, this particular type of individual is out looking to victimize you. Here's how to spot one day, I had reader of my newspaper, call the police, and turn in. A couple of individuals who turned out to be crooked, would be contractors who were basically targeting elderly people and offering to resurface their driveways, they probably snared about 20, or 25 victims for at least $500, a piece that those people couldn't really afford to lose. What I did was sat down with the detective and came up with a step by step scenario of how one of these people are going to approach you and pitch it to you and pitch their so called services to you, which is obviously bogus. And what you need to look for the day that story ran, a person who subscribed to my newspaper was reading the story. When those two guys pulled up in the driveway of elderly of an elderly lady living across the street from them. They called the cops. It turned out the one guy was a prison scapy he escaped from prison in upstate New York. And he was going around with this other dirtbag and figured they could get some easy buys. So okay, yeah, give me 500 bucks will resurface your driveway, and they just take off. They slept in jail that night. Thanks to me,

Jeff Sterns  1:13:00  
good job.

Unknown Speaker  1:13:01  
That's a good feeling. And that is my definition of responsible journalism, anecdotally to be to be sure, but that's kind of where my mindsets always

Jeff Sterns  1:13:10  
been. Okay. But, Jim, when you talk about just presenting the facts, and you're a journalist, and you're in the newspaper business, not just car feature magazines, how do you feel today about mainstream media?

Unknown Speaker  1:13:26  
I don't know how that's defined, honestly. I mean, I have my own choices as for information sources, and they're, in most cases, they're the same ones. I've been using most of my not just professional life, my life period. I think there's a lot of intellectual laziness on behalf of both the people who some of the people who generate that content, and some of the people who consume it. I also believe that as a society, and to some extent, as a profession, as an identifiable profession, people have largely lost the ability to differentiate between news and infotainment, that line was blurred for a considerable amount of time before. I'm not sure it even exists anymore. News should not be entertainment, and I don't really think it should be a money making enterprise which a lot of purveyors, especially in the broadcast world have clearly managed to do and do very successfully. If you look at how many people watch or consume at least televised news during a natural disaster, and election, a political scandal war. Yeah, the ability exists there to monetize it, what people I think in that world are trying to do more so in the print world To try and retain the audience that they can attract with breaking news events, and keep them interested, and keep them from tuning away to whatever they were watching. Ordinarily, to track that audience, you have to hold their interest. And I think that in many cases, it's being done by glitz defying the news. By turning it into a he said, she said, conflict sometimes in the guise of fairness, there's a bromide that's out there kicking around the to seek the word of a Nazi on a story about Jewish people just in the in the spirit of attaining balance is kind of bogus. And I believe that some of that is just done to generate conflict and standards in entertainment to the audience. I don't watch live TV news, I really don't. I read a few different newspapers, not all of them from the United States, and a few different magazines. And I generally stay away from social media and a lot of like, mass consumption, information sources, such as that because I just don't think it's reliable.

Jeff Sterns  1:16:12  
If you feel like you know, since we're talking there's something you wish you brought up telling me the only

Unknown Speaker  1:16:17  
thing I was saying conclusion is, I'll say the same thing to your listeners that I said to Larry Oh, Donny hears and buzz McKenzie and and, and, and anybody else. That salami to be in a position similar to this is I think it's important to show gratitude every once in a while. I know maybe if I focused on some different things in my journalistic career, maybe I, I could have gone to work in Washington or work in New York City, or, or work for a think tank or something like that. But I really want to do my parents offered to send me to law school, full ride, no question says, I didn't want to do it. This is what I wanted to do. I want to write about topics that interests me, hopefully do it well, hopefully interest some other people in the time. And in doing so, hopefully express some gratitude to the people in my past who brought who helped to bring me to this point. I'll never lose sight of that. I'd like it if you could share that with your with your audience. I owe a debt of gratitude to a lot of people and I'm at a point in my life where I want to express that

Jeff Sterns  1:17:30  
publicly. Jim, I mean, why not? I mean, how much better could the world be if everyone had that thought to not for show show sake, not for a show to express gratitude, but to it's it's like, it's like two pieces hand in hand. It's making amends where you should make amends. It's expressing gratitude, where you should express gratitude, sincere. I mean, if you could really describe why I mean,

Unknown Speaker  1:17:58  
I'm very lucky. I'm very lucky to have been able to do what I did. And and I and I, I'd like the world to know that I appreciate that.

Unknown Speaker  1:18:10  
This has been Jeff Sterns connected through cars.

Transcribed by

Jim DonnellyProfile Photo

Jim Donnelly

Journalist / Author/ Photographer

Originally from Brooklyn, New York. Lived and worked as a journalist in southern New Jersey for more than 20 years before joining Hemmings Motor News in 2002.

Winner of more than 50 journalism awards, including Jim Hunter Award for Writing Excellence from Eastern Motorsport Press Association. Member EMPA, AARWBA, NMPA, IMPA, MPG, SAMA, WAPA, ATHS, SPAAMFAA. Specialized in crime reporting, general assignment, automotive and motorsport coverage at metro daily newspaper in Philadelphia media market, rising to deputy managing editor. Senior editor at Hemmings across all platforms; directly participated in rollout of Hemmings Classic Car, Hemmings Muscle Machines, Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car, editorial section of Hemmings Motor News, 50th and 60th anniversary issues of Hemmings Motor News, plus digital Hemmings Daily. Responsible for authorship and photography. Still active with Hemmings as contributor.

Founder and editor, Jim Donnelly On Wheels, Senior Editor, Crankshaft, Contributor, Speed Sport, Contributor, Subaru Drive Performance, Mecum Auctions. Co-host, In the Pits Media and Legends of Racing Radio. Past co-host, The Car Doctor on WOR-AM 710, New York City. Resume and photo attached. Let me know if you need more. Best, JD.