Lessons from a Challenge
The front porch of my family's retreat overlooking Lake Tahoe is not conducive to the work ethic. But, I did not escape the office for 10 days just to transfer my job from Orange County to the Sierra Nevadas. Work? Fuggedaboudit.
However, I don't consider the writing of this column as work. I put it in a category outside the rest of european car's content, so I can justify writing it even as my lungs feast on the scent of pines and my ears swoon to the rush of a nearby waterfall tumbling down its rocky trace, even as the eponymous song of chickadees and the chirps of chipmunks punctuate the crystalline mountain air. (See how far from the work ethic I'm feeling right now?)
My column is different. I don't consider it "work" as much as a monthly purge, because I also don't know what it's going to say until just milliseconds before my fingers flog the keyboard, and because it's usually written at the last minute, just before Exec. Ed. Collins' axe tickles the hairs on the back of my neck.
The work of getting the rest of european car's content between the covers is generally well orchestrated by my loyal staff, each of whom bring to these pages singular contributions. Most of the time, each of our unique characters complement the others, and we manage to pull off an issue we can point to with some measure of pleasure.
Sometimes, however, we loathe-maybe too strong a word-we are "disappointed" with the final, printed product. It's not a good feeling. Right now, recalling even one of those limp and lame issues makes me want to cut my vacation short.
Rather than embark on an examination of how we can fall short of delivering the best possible magazine, let me approach, from a different direction, how we're dedicated to making european car as appealing as possible. Let me instead boast a bit about my team's performance at european car's 1.8T Challenge. Held at Englishtown's race complex in New Jersey last July, the two days of competition brought out an amazingly eclectic group of turbocharged tuners and privateers, facing off in a series of dynamic tests to determine the baddest 1.8T-powered car in the land.
It could have been a high-boost disaster; it wasn't. Our first try at hosting a dynamic, highly competitive event was, even in my highly biased viewpoint, extremely successful. The main reason it came off without any major glitches was the Primedia staff that stuffed itself into a few rooms of the Hilton in East Brunswick, N.J.
First, however, let me give the hotel a plug. The restaurant had a creative menu, the bar boasted all the necessities in the sufficient quantities, its staff handled the awards banquet without a hitch, and the front desk did a great job getting me into the fully booked hotel when it was discovered my name wasn't in the reservation computer (our fault, not theirs).
The 1.8T Challenge involved early mornings, long days and late nights, but any exhaustion we felt was offset by high-spirited camaraderie. To make the 1.8T Challenge happen entailed a list of logistics as complicated as any wiring loom, but, led by the Spirit of Automotive Passion himself, our own Rob Mullner, everyone pulled together to ensure that a good time was had by all the racers within the atmosphere of intense competition. It felt just like it does when a good issue of european car goes together.
What exactly makes a good issue of european car was a topic of discussion throughout the two days of the Challenge. I think Les Bidrawn said it best as we watched the cars twist through the high-speed autocross course. "These are our people, man!" he exclaimed. "These are the magazine."
Stay tuned for the December issue, when we'll bring you the full story of the cars of the 1.8T Challenge-and those people behind the cars who stimulate the fundamental essence of european car magazine.
The next issue will also feature european car's annual "Select Gear" awards, our recognition of the best of the performance aftermarket. I'm anxious to read about them myself, plus I'm always curious about the contents of the next "Ed's Column." I expect I'll know as soon as I start typing it, probably just minutes before deadline.