American Hustle

Lately it seems I always begin a new year buried with work. Last year, it was building a new car. This year it’s more winter car projects and, well, everything else.

The white board in the garage doesn’t have nearly enough tasks crossed off. There are axles and wheel bearings to install, rear brakes to be done, a slave cylinder that should be replaced, alignment and corner weighting … oh, and a transmission, clutch and flywheel that need to be swapped.

As I write this, I have a little more than a month to get all that done, but there are all sorts of other deadlines I need to meet first, and it starts with this issue of Speed News and the March issue. If I’m going to make it, I’m going to have to hustle.

In all candor, part of the reason I’m so far behind is self inflicted. NASA’s Director of Sponsorship and Marketing Jeremy Croiset and I just returned from the Motorsports Parts Manufacturers Council media trade conference, a three-day gabfest where we met with manufacturers of all manner of things to make cars go faster, be safer or more reliable. There was lots of new stuff for tow vehicles, too.

The folks from SEMA, the same trade organization that puts on the SEMA Show and the Performance Racing Industry show, put the whole thing together. They rent out the entire Embassy Suites hotel in Santa Ana, Calif. The vendors set up shop in the suites, and writers and editors from automotive enthusiast publications shuffle from room to room learning about different products and putting together story ideas for their readers. We sat down for 42 half-hour meetings over three days.

It beats digging ditches or roofing in August, but the pace was grueling, and by the third afternoon, I was nearly punch drunk from giving the same presentation again and again.

Those three days out of the office were days I lost at the keyboard, so I’m behind. Way behind. Still, the MPMC conference is worthwhile, because we get to talk with experts on technical subjects, see what’s new on the market, and sort out what’s relevant to NASA members. You can expect to read about what we found in the coming months and throughout the year in Speed News.

You’ll also notice a few new design touches in Speed News. Our art director Ashley Horne had grown tired of certain design elements, so she has begun tweaking “the book” here and there.

We are lucky to have an art director like Ashley. She is the reason the magazine is as pleasing to the eye and easy to read as it is. When I visit different regions, lots of NASA members tell me how much they like the magazine, but for so many of their compliments, I can’t take credit. It’s all Ashley.

Starting with the March issue, we also are going to be adding a new department to Speed News this year. I don’t know yet what we’ll call it, but like all departments, it will appear regularly. Unlike the technical features we publish, the new department will be brief, digestible pieces on all sorts of technical subjects that interest racers and gear heads of all stripes.

In short, we have a lot of work ahead of us, but it all will be worthwhile, whether it’s improved performance and reliability in my car or improved content for Speed News. I’m confident we can make it happen, but we’re going to have to hustle.

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