Several years ago, I gathered a group of my early columns and put together a book. I called it Motor Oil for a Car Guy's Soul. It was successful enough, but more importantly it won me the 2005 Ken Purdy Award for Excellence in Automotive Journalism from the International Motor Press Award. Ken Purdy was one of the pioneers of automotive writing in this country and has always been one of my biggest heroes. To win the award named for him was a humbling experience. Somewhere along the way I started a publishing company, Demontreville Press, to publish books, mostly the kind of automotive books that mainstream publishers wouldn't find profitable. I followed the first Motor Oil book with Volume II in 2006, mainly because I still had plenty of columns left that I wanted to put into a form that people could easily access. My final book in the Motor Oil trilogy, Volume III, is on the market as you read this and has yet more columns and stories, mostly from the pages of ec.
When you write for a newspaper, the best you can hope is that the next day someone will wrap fish or line the bottom of a birdcage with your prose. If you write for a magazine you can hope that your brilliance will grace a bathroom for a month or two. When you write a book, you can live with the hope that a copy will sit on a dusty shelf in some forgotten library a hundred years from now.
During 2007 and 2008, I was selected for an eight-month Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellowship at the University of Michigan. I like to think that my ongoing work at ec was a significant factor in my selection for this honor. While there, I studied alternative fuels, hybrid cars, energy and infrastructure, resulting in another book I called The Crooked Mile: Through peak oil, biofuels, hybrid cars, and global climate change to reach a brighter future. The process of doing the research for this book changed me in a number of ways, not the least of which was a realization that I enjoy the academic world.
On returning home, I enrolled in a master's program at Hamline University to study environmental education, and I've recently become more involved in research through that institution's Center for Global Environmental Education. I've come to realize that we as a society have significant problems we need to face. Most of these problems were created by those of us who are now middle-aged adults. We are so entrenched in our way of life that we cannot be counted on to solve the problems we've created-that will fall to upcoming generations. As a car guy, engineer, writer, publisher, and journalist, I feel a responsibility to find a way to communicate with future generations, and by learning how teachers teach, I'm hoping to learn to be a more effective writer and a publisher of works that will help mold young minds.
Alas, with a budding academic career on my plate and a publishing house to run, something has to give. This is my last column for european car magazine, a place that has been my home for nearly a decade and a half. I tried everything I could think of to keep my monthly column in these pages, but the truth is I couldn't devote the proper effort to you, the reader, and I didn't want to produce something that you wouldn't want to read. Les has been more than understanding about my decision and has offered to let me contribute from time to time for whatever special projects or stories might benefit from my idiosyncrasies. To say I have enjoyed being a part of this magazine would understate how I feel about the people I have worked with and the readers who have made what I do such a pleasure. I will miss them and you. Thank you for all that you have given me.