During my tenure with 605 Magazine, I interviewed blues artist Hadden Sayers prior to his scheduled performance in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. At one point in our conversation, he remarked that being a blues star was exactly like being a rock star, only without the fame, girls, and money. We laughed but Sayers taught me something valuable that day; something that has served me well throughout my career.
You do things because you love them and because you are passionate about them. The blues are like that. So are automobiles. But really, anything can be that way, if we let it.
Day One reaffirms why I continue to invest the way I do in my automotive career. The book reminds me why I’ve no longer diversified my writing (against the advice of some) and penned strictly for this publication, in addition to helping manage and lead it. I do it because I love cars and I enjoy telling people about them. And as we begin a new year, books like Day One can inspire us no matter our chosen career fields, no matter our pursuits and passions.
In the foreword, Joe Oldham recalls the day he received his first red GTO convertible loaner. He calls it a life-defining moment when the Pontiac rep handed him the keys at that Los Angeles press event. Driving it along the Pacific Coast Highway would only reinforce that life-defining notion. Oldham’s passion (and guts) eventually landed him at Magnum Royal Publications in 1965, right at the dawn of the muscle car era.
“How did a dumb kid from Brooklyn wind up with such a cool gig,” he writes. “If you were a car guy, as I was from the time I was a little kid, it was a dream job.”
Bold Tones & Big Cars
Oldham shares being mentored by Marty Schorr, the author of Day One, then Editorial Director of Magnum Royal Publications. Since Hi-Performance CARS made its revenue from newsstand sales versus advertising, their obligation was to the reader paying for the publication. And honesty was the policy, especially if a given car had faults or was overly hyped in its marketing. It was less politically correct than rival publications, instead being written by, as Oldham puts it, the “wiseass outlaws from New York.”
Shorr keeps that brutally honest tone in Day One, walking us through his firsthand experiences with some of the greatest cars ever manufactured. Schorr tells us the inside stories of the cars we love and fantasize about owning. Some of our favorites in the book include Pontiac’s 1962 and 1963 lightweight Super-Duty 421 street and Swiss Cheese models, Chevrolet’s 1963 big block 427 Mystery Motor, Ford’s 1963 Galaxie fastback, the Cotton-Owens Hemi Coronet, and Plymouth’s original 1968 Hemi Road Runner.
Oldham passed away in October. In remembering his longtime friend, Schorr gave a fitting tribute, saying he was always impressed by Oldham’s knowledge and skill. In many respects, the title of this book – Day One – is fitting. It’s a new year and that means new promises. Guys like Oldham looked at the world in this sense when it came to pursuing what they were most passionate about: it wasn’t one day, but rather day one.
Day One: An Automotive Journalist’s Muscle-Car Memoir is available through Amazon and Motorbooks.
Martyn L. Schorr has a history with high-performance cars that dates back to the beginning of Ford’s Total Performance era over fifty years ago. He rode with Carroll Shelby and was at the press conference in New York for the debut of the Lola-built Ford GT that became the GT40. Schorr drove the GT40 on the streets of New York City and accompanied Mickey Thompson to Bonneville in 1969 to set a book full of records. Schorr is the author of Total Performance and Motion Performance, both published by Motorbooks.