People often talk about particular events being seared into their minds: Pearl Harbor, JFK’s assassination, 9/11…I remember the first time I ever read an article by Jack Baruth.
It was 2009, and I was sitting in the living room of my parents’ house, on summer break from college, working a menial job as a receiver on a loading dock. I had the day off, somehow, I found myself on Speed:Sport:Life, reading Avoidable Contact #19: Rich Corinthian Swaybars. No writer had ever been able to weave so many different threads, concurrently drawing out each part into a cohesive narrative that explained the sociology of the automobile, in the most elegant prose I had seen in any automotive publication. My life was never the same again.
In the days that followed, I managed to get in touch with Jack, finally meeting him at the 2010 edition of the Detroit Auto Show. I failed to heed his advice about making this my full time job, and before I was even studying for my finals, I had a full-time auto journalism gig lined up. By the time I joined TTAC in January of 2012, Jack had become a trusted friend and mentor, someone who has been able to help me hone my voice and professional decorum as well as helping me navigate the challenges that come with learning to be an adult and a mensch in my personal life as well. Jack has shown me how to respond to criticism with magnanimity and how to remain principled and ethical in an environment that frequently tests both.
Of all the lessons Jack taught me, none has been stressed more than his words to me on the first day of our rescue mission: “your responsibility is to the readers.”
I’m cognizant of the responsibility being placed upon me. I have never so much as spoken to Robert Farago, but I intend to keep alive his legacy, by reporting The TRUTH About Cars, no matter what it may cost us in financial resources or “access”, the great stick that the auto makers use to keep journalists “on-message”.
Meanwhile, I will strive to keep learning as much as I can about the design, engineering, manufacturing, wholesale and retail sides of the business, building on the lessons taught to me by Ed, Bertel and Jack. I will be bringing in some new faces, like Prof Mike Smitka, Timothy Cain and other former and current industry authorities, to help our coverage of the automotive world, but nobody is being shown the door. We will return to our roots as a site focused on the auto industry, but we will not turn our back on the Junkyard Finds, Piston Slaps, Vellum Venoms, crapcan racing and everything else that has made TTAC what it is.
It is a privilege to have your readership, day in, day out. I will continue, as Cormac McCarthy put it, to “carry the fire”. It still burns white hot within me. I hope you can all see it.