Pat: Welcome everybody to the Muscle car fan community . Pat Caporuscio here , I’m your host for this weeks show and I’m really excited this week because we have noted Autoweek editor Rory Carroll . he is the editor of Autoweek here in Detroit Michigan. My home town, I was born in Detroit. Auto week was founded in 1958 and called Competition Press and changed to Autoweek in 1975 and purchased by Crain Communications in 1977.
How are you today Rory?
Pat:I heard thru the grapevine that you are obsessed with cars. Is that true?
Rory: Yes , I think that would be a fair assessment . yeah.
Pat: Do you remember at what age you became interested in cars?
Rory: Yah know I’ve always been kind of interested. You know my grandfather was into cars. My dad was a little bit into cars, he was a sports car guy. But I think it really got outta control was in my early teens. It’s gotten worse since then so. I think, you know when you start tasting that first taste of freedom. The ability to go out and make trouble and meet girls and all that kind of stuff.
The car thing can take on a different weight in your life I guess.
Pat: Different importance yeah. I’m from a different era than you but we speak the same language. And you grew up in the Traverse City area?
Rory: Yeah, up there in cherry country. My family has been up there since the 1840’s. Got a huge, huge family and a lot of great roads and a great place to be a car guy growing up.
Pat: Yeah i was going to say the comparison is probably, living up there when you grew up, it’s probably like it was around here. There use to be a lot of vacant land, there still is where I live. There were a lot of places to go . It was safe.We use to go to a place called Short Cut Rd. It was an abandoned military facility in Marine City. There use to be a place called Motor City dragway, you probably never heard of it, it’s way before your time. we’d go there Saturday nights and race all the race cars for Sundays, because we would race Sundays.
Rory: That’s pretty cool
Pat: You went to college at MSU?
Rory Yep, went to college at MSU. Actually studied Political Science. What I was thinking with that selection but it worked out for me.
Pat: I also heard that you had a team and you raced the 24 Hrs of Lemonds?
Rory: That’s a photo from the archives right there.Lookin a little bit thinner than I am today.
Pat: In racing trim right?
Rory: Yeah exactly. Had to get in that racing seat and the doors were welded shut so I had to sneak thru the window.
Pat: So this little red car is your?
Rory: Yeah, still have it.
Pat: What is that, what kind of car is that?
Rory: That is a Lahta, it was sold as a Lahta Signet in Canada,during the 80’s very briefly . I think everybody kind of realized it was a mistake. But it’s actually not a bad car .It’s fairly well put together, very robust and it’s a great Lemonds car. It’s slow but it’s durable and it lasted thru the first race.
Pat: That’s a good lead in to my next thing. You won the Index of Effluence trophy for that event with that car.
Rory: That’s kind of like the team that does the most with the least. So no one expected anything out of our car. Very, very reliable and didn’t have any black flags and didn’t spend anytime off the track .I think we finished 50th overall. But Index is the trophy, that’s the one that everyone wants.
Pat: How many people are in that race approximately?
Rory: I think this one, it was a few years ago, there were 150 cars were in the race.
Pat: That’s pretty decent.
Rory:As you can imagine most of them break down or crash. Or some other horrible fate befalls them.
Pat: Kinda like a different style of demolition derby.
Rory: I guess people are trying not to wreck their cars. But the attrition rate is pretty high.
Pat: Sounds like my kind of race.
Rory: I would recommend it to anybody. especially the 24 hour races, it’s really a satisfying, really engaging experience. I would really recommend it to anybody who is into cars.
You get a lot of the same experience of a real race team. Stents and race management. As a car guy,even after taking a job at Autoweek and being able to do all the things I’ve been able to do.
It’s still one of the best car guy experiences I’ve ever had.
Pat: I’d love something like that. I’d have to come up with a car like that. I’m sure I wouldn’t find that one, It can be any car is that correct?
Rory: Any car that’s values at $500. You have to kinda be a particular kind of idiot to get into it.
Pat: Well I have a couple of Saturns and I don’t think either of those are worth over $500.
Rory: Seen plenty of Saturns out on the track.
Pat: So you get to do a lot of really cool stuff since you’ve taken this job. Tell us what is your most memorable job that you have done or place that you went to.
Rory: Last year, or I think it was last year. I did the Porshe 918 at the Circuit of the Americas and then in the same week drove the La Ferrarri for the factory. That’s obviously not something I’ll never forget. But I think one of the coolest things is I’ve ever seen is The Power Big Meet, that’s in Sweden. Which they say is the world’s largest American Car Show. And it’s in Sweden which is bizarre.
It’s in this huge multi day party up in the northern part of Sweden and the kids there are so enthusiastic about cars. You know you think about how difficult it is to own an old car in Europe . You pay for fuel and insurance and all that, But it’s all younger people who love the cars , love the culture and it was just a great thing to be around, It’s like a punk rock Woodward Dream Cruise I guess.
Pat:That’s sounds like fun too. You get to cover all the Auto Shows. Do you go personally?
Rory: Yeah I go to quite a few. I don’t go all of them personally. I try to spread those opportunities out among our staff. But I sure go to a lot.
Pat: How did you get involved in automotive writing?
Rory: That’s a weird story. I worked in politics for a long time, which I would not recommend to anyone. I did that and then I was working as a lobbyist for Haggerdy Insurance.A friend of mine who also worked there Rob Seais had a deadline coming up for the New York Times. He had a deadline coming up and he was going to miss because he was actually racing for my Lemonds team. I filled in for him. Then got a spot contributing there at the wheel for the New York Times. they taught me how to write and I did some auction catalogs after that and got I picked up by Autoweek right after. I’ve really only been full time for about 4 years.
Pat: Obviously you enjoy it?
Rory: It’s the nest job I could imagine having.
Pat: My grandson has been obsessed with cars since he has been about 2. He must have 500 Hot Wheels and matchbox cars. So I think he is going to grow up and be like you.
Rory: That’s great. You know for everything thats out there in media and kinda pop culture about kids not being interested in cars anymore. In surveys data everywhere you see a tremendous amount of interest in young people . Old cars, new cars. If you go on Instagram right now you’ll find millions of cars from youngsters everywhere out there. You know it’s a big part of their lives. So that’s what Autoweek;s banking on. That’s what I’m banking on. It’s good to know there will be future Autoweek contributors. We’re going to need people to do that.
Pat: I totally agree with you. All the teenagers out here are in love with cars . A lot of their dads have older muscle cars . The kids have em because in this area there’s a lot of mechanical people. A lot of people have stuff in their garage to build their own cars. they pass that down to their kids.
I wasn’t even aware that the younger generation wasn’t interested in cars cuz I assumed they all are.
Rory: That’s been my experience too. You know we have a lot of experience with car companies. Certainly the larger media is in love with this narrative with car sharing and kids aren’t renewing their licenses or getting their license at the same rates historically.
People that aren’t car enthusiast have other options now where they didn’t 30 years ago. But I think the number of people who are enthusiasts are higher than they’ve ever been. The way that we can share photos, the know how. You can fix anything with a Youtube video. The ability of people to order parts online even has enabled people to engage people to be a part of the car culture. Maybe they never could 30-40 years ago.
This show is a great example of that .Imagine being able to broadcast a car show from your house 40 years ago.
Pat: Yeah you can take an i-phone at one of the auto shows and say hey here look at this new car.
Rory: We did a little bit of a broadcast with Will Power and Simon at the Detroit Auto Show last week. Is was really really fun. Let them walk around and kind of do a tour of the show floor. they were all geeked out.It was really cool.
Pat: I went last week with my son and got a lot of good clips to use and I thought to myself where else can you go and see cars lit like this.
Rory: How about that Buick concept car.That was way better than I expected.
Pat:Did you see Bob Lutz . Did you go over to his exhibit
Rory: Yeah I did, I went and checked it out. I didn’t see him over there but I went and checked it out. That’s always been an interesting idea. We’ve proven time and time again that the small block can solve a lot of problems and that car is a great example it’s good looking, great power. It will be interesting to see how they do it.
Pat: My son loved it. He’s the one who picked it out and he looked it up online, that’s how interested he was . He’s 17.
So on to the question of the day in your opinion. What would you consider the best modern day muscle car in your opinion?
Rory: Are we going to include pony cars or just muscle cars.
Pat: Let’s include everything right now.
Rory: I would say my favorite cars to drive would have been the Chevy SS. Which is more of a muscle car format. The new Mustang and the new Camaro. But it’s really hard for me weed down the list. In my heart I’m a handling guy. So I want my power. I love the v8 sound ,but the cars got to turn, I’ve gotta be able to take it up a back road , But I tell you I had that Chevy Camaro SS last week. It blew me away. I haven’t been in a car with that kind of power that handles like that . That has the commercial muscle car proportions. I mean that car really blew my mind. So I’d have to say among the crop of modern muscle cars I’d say the Camaro SS.
Pat:Camaro, you know that’s always been at the top of the list. It’s funny what you say about handling because I remember the old muscle cars like the Road Runners you could only go in a straight line. If you tried to turn you were going off the road.
Rory: Yeah and that’s amazing as much as cars weigh these days. It’s incredible how they can make em handle. Even the Hellcat which has reputation as a straight line car. You can take it on the track and it’s a lot of fun. But that Camaro I think I have to give the nod to. It feels almost like a great BMW three series. More power, looks cooler and obviously doesn’t cost you what a BMW cost you.
Pat: So your car would be the Chevy SS?
Rory: Yeah, yeah it has that really kind of cool understated look. As long as you don’t go crazy ordering bright colors it’s not a car that’s going to get a lot of attention. Although I did get a fairly substantial speeding ticket in one this summer.
Pat: You don’t get out of em because your the editor at Autoweek.
Rory: No, no. I’ve heard of stories about that working in the past but it has not worked for me.
Pat: What was your very first car?
Rory: My first car was a white with maroon interior Plymouth Horizon that I bought from my grandmother for $200. It was very rusty, automatic. Extremely slow.
Rory: Well I tested that actually. I ended up totaling that car. So it wasn’t quite indestructible, but in it’s defense I did put it thru hell prior to totaling it. It proved indestructible up to that point. But it was good. It;s good I think as a kid it allowed me to ease into something that would immediately kill me.
Pat: Lotta the kids in school got that first muscle car wrecked it right away. I was lucky I had a 65 Mustang 6 cyl. That was just enough.
Rory: Just enough to get in trouble
Pat: Right, my favorite cars I ended up owning were a 69 429 CJ Nascar Torino and a 69 GTX,440 4 speed Dana rear end and a pinion snubber.
Rory: By the time I would turn 16 those cars were not in the 16 year old used car market.
Pat: Not affordable
Rory: They were already collectors items. After that I got an old Mark 2 Volkswagen GTI. For a long time I was a big Volkswagen person. Got into a couple of Volkswagens. Then got into Porshe’s. Now I have come back around to an American car person. A lot of that was driven by driving that new c7 Corvette. that car has a way of making Porshe people into Corvette people.
Pat: Where would you like to see Autoweek go? I know you said to add some younger audience to your subscription base.
Rory.That’s not actually exactly how I would put it . Car guys are car guys. You know a lot of our readers are a little bit older but I’m finding a lot of encouragement in the fact that they tend to have similar interests. For the younger guys we are encountering on social media and on the website. The overlap tends to be huge. I think getting a little bit more focused on car culture. Like I said the car sharing, ride sharing.
Parallel to that we have a very rich vibrant culture. People celebrating old cars and new cars. racing and kind of doing it themselves
We found that appeals very broadly across the readership . Young, old, really all demographics. I think thats kind of the direction we are pursuing . Like I said being focused on car culture, enthusiast culture, motor sports and obviously that’s our core from day one.
It will be interesting.
Pat : Right What I like working with Muscle Car Fan is the fact that there are so many cars just to look at. There are so many cars for sale. The articles that Ross Mills has written. He writes some really good articles. Hopefully you’ll get a chance to talk to him soon,
Same with Autoweek, lots of great information.
Rory: I never would have expected as a kid to be able to walk into a deanship and buy a 700 horsepower car. A lot of that is enable by better traction control, tires and stuff. it is still astonishing to be able to jump into a car with a warranty and that kind of power.
Pat: So you have actually driven a 700 horsepower car.
Rory: It’s incredible how easy it is to handle. You know when I was a kid 700 horsepower was tubbed
and had a parachute hanging on the back of it. Today it’s a totally different thing.
Pat: It’s a street car
Rory: Yeah, and it’s a car that idles, you can leave it the parking lot running, you can go and get your groceries with it, your mom can drive it. It’s really,really wild.
Pat: Anything else new coming out in Autoweek?
Rory: We just released a big feature and we have a new feature on the site and it’s called a spotlight. It includes some great art and a scrolling display. the big thing we are working on right now is our annual motorsports guide. It’s something we use to do and were are bring it back. We devoted an entire issue with just about every racing series. So if your a race fan or an aspiring race fan you can pick up this issue and know a little bit about each series, know who to watch, know what the main series are going to be in the future.
Also it’s got the schedules , it’s got all that practical information so you don’t miss a race. You know as a guy that was brought up with digital I’m used to Googling everything . It is nice to have something in your hand that you can put up on the fridge with all the schedules.
The cool thing for me about print is that as a digital guy there are a million opportunities for you to forget.With the magazine coming to your house you are going to have to look at it when you sort thru your mail.
It’s right there in your face and it’s a little bit more relaxing experience and not as many distractions. It forces you to sit down and engage with the product and read and look at the nice photo’s.
Pat: I totally agree with you. That’s a good point I am going to look for the magazine in my mailbox.
I was really excited about meeting and talking to you. maybe we can do a face to face interview sometime.
Rory: That would be awesome. we have a great slot car track in the office if you ever want to come down.Slot mods, David Beattie makes it. The stuff he does scale models, replica and I’m the most hyper detail .
Pat: I guess that’s it and I want to thank you for being on the show. You’ll probably neat me at the slot cars. We appreciate you being on the show . talk to you soon.
Rory: Thanks for the opportunity, talk to you soon
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