Our purpose in developing this automotive Web site is to not only provide up-to-date and informative vehicle reviews, but to offer other features that are not available at many of the hundreds — perhaps thousands — of sites on the worldwide web.
We seek to entertain our visitors as well as inform them. Our primary goal is to offer automotive reviews based on road testing and real-life testing an average of 100 new cars and trucks a year. But more than that, we will provide interesting tidbits from the industry, our opinions — some from the right coast and some from the left coast — and such craziness as abandoned car pictures.
Our promise — to keep the site continually updated so that when you return week after week, you will find something new and interesting.
Ted has had a life long love affair with cars and trucks. An everyman’s enthusiast Ted found his first automotive job as a 14-year old lot boy for a local used car dealer. Of course he lied and told the dealer he was 16, so he not only got to wipe the cars down, he also got to drive them.
After college (Valley State College in Northridge, Calif. and East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina) and a stint in the U.S Air Force (where Ted and Jim served together in the 1960’s) and a couple of tours in South East Asia, Ted returned to his second home in suburban Los Angeles (he’s originally from New York City) to ply his creative skills as an actor and writer.
Somewhat side tracked, because he needed a job so he could feed his young family Ted landed at the Los Angeles Evening Citizen-News where he found out he could write about cars and the auto industry and get paid for doing so.
What started as a temporary job turned into a life-long career as an auto writer, editor and columnist including a 20-year stop at Meredith Publishing and another 19-years at the Los Angeles Daily News (and sister publications of MediaNews Group).
Ted and Jim reconnected and have been writing a column together since 1999. While both are now retired from the day to day grind of newspaper work they continue to write together for the Los Angeles Daily News and a variety of newspapers and on-line sites across the country and of course Ted (and Jim) can now be found right here at motorwayamerica.com. Ted can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jim has had a passion for cars since he was a teenager...which was some time ago. He spent many years in high school study hall drawing his renditions of future cars while his math, science and English books remained closed.
Despite this prep school diversion, he managed to finish high school and earn a B.S. degree in journalism from South Dakota State University. This is a rare combination...a car guy with an actual journalism degree.
Jim then escaped the cold upper Midwest climate by joining the Air Force. He was stationed at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina, and a combination of great climate, a good job offer and a young lady kept him planted in the South.
He worked as a newspaper editor for nearly 40 years, including 15 years as a sports editor. He retired in 2006 as executive news editor of the Goldsboro (N.C.) News-Argus. But his passion has always been cars and that passion has never been stronger.
He has been driving and passing judgment on cars, trucks and sport utilities for nearly 20 years and drives and evaluates more than 100 new vehicles a year. This translates into more than 2,000 vehicles since 1990.
Jim now writes in partnership with Ted sharing a byline with Ted at the Los Angeles Daily News and a variety of other newspapers and on-line sites. Jim also continues to write a weekly automotive review for the News-Argus.
Jim says that his goal in life is a new car in the yard every week. Life would be dull without a new set of wheels to critique. Jim can be reached at email@example.com
Russ began covering the automotive industry in 1986, when he parlayed his position as a retail ad sales rep into helping conceptualize and establish a stand-alone automotive section for the Boca Raton News, a Knight-Ridder newspaper in South Florida.
In 1995 he moved to the Palm Beach Post to help develop its bi-weekly automotive pages. Leaving the Post in 2000, he freelanced car reviews to a variety of publications before assuming a senior editor position at AMI Auto World magazine in 2001. While at AMI he helped launch NOPI Street Performance Compact magazine and was appointed its managing editor.
He has been freelancing stories on a variety of topics since leaving AMI in 2004. His regular outlets have included Hispanic Magazine, the Miami Herald, the Washington Times, the Journal-Register Newspapers, AAA Go magazine, MyCarData.com, Automotive Metrics, Bankrate.com and Interest.com.
In addition to freelancing automotive reviews, from 1991 until 2001 he was supervising producer of the syndicated television series Discover America.
Russ currently resides in Greenville, SC.
Russ can be reached at Russcarguy@aol.com
CHRISTOPHER A. SAWYER
Sawyer began his automotive writing career at AutoWeek in the middle 1980s before moving over to Automotive Industries, one of the leading industry trade magazines of its day. Finding himself tiring of the daily grind to find something new to cover, and the self-importance of an industry that could, in his opinion, use a good strong enema, Sawyer took an offer from Dearborn-based Campbell & Co. to, among other things, become the Communications Director for Lotus Cars USA in late 1996.
From late 2000 to early 2009, Sawyer was executive editor of Automotive Design & Production magazine, an industry trade journal. Together with Editor-In-Chief Gary Vasilash, Sawyer helped AD&P move from an also-ran to a leading magazine in the automotive industry.
Quoted in USA Today and an interview subject on the Travel Channel’s Extreme Concept Cars, Sawyer helped increase the magazine’s visibility during his eight year tenure.
In early 2009, Sawyer joined Cars In Context as Executive Editor/Associate Partner, and proceeded to create much of the content on the site. Sawyer left the site in early 2011 to start online site The Virtual Driver, which he continues to produce.
Based in Phoenix, Ariz., Jim as been an automotive journalist providing written and video reviews, advice, analysis and commentary about the automotive industry for more than 25 years.
He is an automotive spokesperson for AAA and a consultant for Costco and AAA auto buying programs. His automotive writing appears in numerous national publications.
He regularly appears on national TV stations and weekly on local Phoenix television.
You can reach Jim at JPrueter@iCloud.com
Harold Gunn has been a writer, producer and talent for thousands of radio, television commercials and programs during an on air career spanning 50 years. Currently he is producer/co-host of the syndicated “The Automotive Reporter” in its 13th year with ESPN Radio in Houston as flagship station and on-line at Stitcher SmartRadio, Facebook, Twitter and automotivereporter.com.
Also, Harold is producer/co-host of the most honored outdoor radio show in Texas for over 24 years and named in the top three in the nation, “Texas Outdoor News”, which airs weekends on ESPN and Yahoo SportsRadio in Houston and in syndication covering nearly 90% of the population of Texas/Louisiana and online at Stitcher SmartRadio, iHeart Radio, Facebook, Twitter, and texasoutdoornews.com. This program features a weekly automotive “Road Test.”
Harold has been named a “Broadcast Pioneer” by the Texas Association of Broadcasters and is a member of their “Golden Mic Club” In 2009 he was inducted into the “Texas Radio Hall of Fame” and is the recipient of many regional and national awards for journalism.
Harold is a three term past president and six year director of the Texas Auto Writers Association and in 2010 was honored by TAWA when they named their scholarship program “The Harold Gunn Scholarship for Journalism.”
Automotive journalist Al Vinikour was a friend to many people, and he was a great friend and contributor to MotorwayAmerica since its inception in 2007. His unusual wit and humor can be seen on this site in the "Driver's Side Diatribe" column that he began writing in 2009. There are more than 200 examples of his politically incorrect humor. And they will live here until the site expires. Al also inspired us to create the popular Nostalgia Highway column that continues today. Al died Feb. 18, 2016, at 71, after a long and courageous battle with cancer. This tribute was written by one of Al's very good friends and a weekly contributor to MotorwayAmerica, Chris Sawyer.
— Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman, editors, MotorwayAmerica
By Christopher A. Sawyer
(February 19, 2016) I can’t remember the first time that I met Al, or the first time we drove together on a new car launch. That has been lost to time. However, my first memory of the man dates back to a GM Christmas party, held in the lobby of its new engineering building, where we were watching a video produced to commemorate the retirement of Steven Harris, GM’s head of global PR.
It was late 2003, I think, and Al played Harris as a man who had sold his soul to Satan to get the top job. The premise of the film was to see whether those in line for the job would similarly sell their souls to get the corner office. The video was funny, and Al played the part with a subtle malevolence that made you think he had done the Devil’s deal.
Steve Harris capped his short speech with a sarcastic, “I can die in peace knowing that I have been so sympathetically portrayed by Al Vinikour.” Across the room, you could see Al beaming.
Not long after, I was attending a vehicle launch and needed a driving partner. My usual go-to pair, Tom Lankard and Ann Job, were attending and driving together, and the list of attendees the PR folks had so graciously sent me ahead of time didn’t look promising. That’s when I spotted Al’s name on the list. A quick e-mail asked if he was available. Unfortunately, Al already had “a date” as he put it, but he steered me to a safe alternative. On the trip, I was invited to join Al’s group at dinner, and we became fast friends.
Al held court, dominating the conversation with the most wildly sarcastic, foul and politically incorrect statements you could image; each delivered in a resonant voice you could hear even if deaf. It was one of the reasons many in the journalistic community hated Al.
To hear his detractors tell it, he was off color, racist, a homophobe, hate-filled, cantankerous, a conservative, and worse. Hanging with him would, I was warned, ruin my reputation and future prospects. Yet in one night I felt I had learned more about the man — and his detractors — than they'd ever know.
He had a sense of humor similar to his Uncle Barney’s, and worshipped this man who could tell a string of dirty jokes to a group of nuns, and leave them laughing. Uncle Barney was a frequent topic of conversation, as were the junkyards his family owned in and around Valparaiso, Indiana. These were the touch points in his life, the things that had shaped his character. Yet these weren’t the only things that motivated Al.
Years later, again on a press trip, I had a conversation that was, as always, profane and hilarious, but also incredibly thoughtful and deep. It was a glimpse at the Al that lived behind the facade of humor, behind the kid who was constantly seeking acceptance through his humor.
Al with friends Lisa and Greg Schmitz
It was the humor, however, that in many ways defined Al Vinikour and his approach to life. On a trip with Subaru, he had two engineers in the back seat of the car as he and his driving partner drove to the lunch stop. Traveling through farm country, Al was seized by the need to honk at every cow and sheep they passed, saying “hello” to each and asking the females what they were doing that evening. “I kept looking in the mirror to see if the two Japanese engineers had any reaction at all to what I was doing,” he said later, “but they were looking at each other with a puzzled expression, and paying strict attention to every animal I honked at.
It was only when we stopped at the checkpoint to switch drivers that one of the engineers tapped me on the shoulder, pointed to a herd of sheep across the street, and said with a smile, ‘You forgot to say “hello” to them!’ That’s when I knew they had gotten it.” The rest of the drive was filled with salutations to sheep and cows, and from that trip forward honking at the livestock became a regular event.
Years later, Al and I were driving together on the launch of the BMW 1 Series. Unlike most trips where Al would throw the directions up on the instrument panel and say, “Follow those guys,” this time he was paying attention to the maps, and caught a hidden turn many others had missed. After lunch, he took the wheel of the dark blue 1 Series convertible, and handled the twisty bits from the lunch stop to the next driver change point.
Al and Chris Sawyer play acting in the "Caught in the Crossbow' episode on the RoundAbout podcast Sept. 5, 2011
Though Al could become desperately car sick (a condition I, too, have suffered from on more occasions than I care to admit), this time he was enjoying himself. Especially when he came up behind a fellow journalist at a traffic light. Second in line in the right-hand lane we drew close to the back of the BMW ahead, and Al — recognizing the driver — began honking the horn and motioning for him to get out of the way. You could see the other driver’s startled look turn to recognition, then to annoyance as Al inched closer with each fusillade from the horn.
When the light turned green, the car ahead pulled off the road into the gravel entrance for a construction business, and Al followed right behind, still honking the horn! Our colleague — a dear friend to us both who has a tendency to stutter, especially when flustered — got out of his car, walked back to our car and said: “Dddddon’t be an asshole! Ggggo around!” To which Al replied, “I wwwwould bbbut you’re in the wwwway!,” before he backed up and drove off.
I nearly wet my self laughing. Our colleague, on the other hand, soon got over his anger, cracking a smile when the story was retold at dinner that night.
Years later, Al and I traveled to Washington D.C. for a full-line drive event with Volkswagen. It was an eventful trip. First, we got to the hotel just in time for the area to be hit by an earthquake. Al, Jim Meachen and I were standing in the lobby of the hotel with VW’s event staff and journalists from California when the earthquake hit. It sounded like a subway train had just gone beneath us at a high rate of speed. This was just the start of the fun.
On the way home, where the next day we were to attend Ford’s full-line event in Dearborn, Mich., Al, Jim and I were almost home when we noticed that the plane was beginning a long, lazy right turn. Raising my window shade, I looked out at thick, dark storm clouds filled with lightning and stretching well into the sky. Detroit was being battered by a huge storm cell, and we were going to circle to see if things would clear enough for us to land. They didn’t. And, in a phrase that came to denote rough patches in our lives, we were — in the words of the captain — “Spiraling down to Cleveland” to ride the storm out.
As the rain began to lash the windows of the nearly empty terminal where we waited, other colleagues decided to rent a car and drive to Detroit. But Al, Jim, I and a few other journalists decided to ride the storm out in the terminal with the rest of the passengers. Over the next four-plus hours, Al entertained everyone in that terminal with commentary and remarks that would make Don Rickles blush.
He worked the room like an expert, getting people to share their life story, then using these facts to make jokes. We were all crying with laughter, and the woman directly across from Al — who took a good bit of the ribbing — told him that she wished the evening would never end. Raising an eyebrow and grinning that grin he said, “That’s what all you gals say. Then we have sex, and it can’t end soon enough!”
There are many more stories like this. Stories that undoubtedly will be told over and again as those of us who knew and worked with Al think of the good times as we try to hide the pain of his passing. We knew his death was inevitable. Al was suffering from advanced stage kidney cancer that had spread throughout his body over the past four years. He had kept us apprised on a semi-regular basis with his viciously funny Cancer Chronicles e-mails, and — when he was feeling up to it — would meet for lunch at a restaurant near his home. Now, unfortunately, those times are past.
Site Administrator/Motorcycle Fanatic:
Noel grew up in Eastern North Carolina and found himself on the back side of high school with a love of electronics and technical things but not much motivation for school. This situation ultimately led to six years in the U.S. Navy where he spent sixteen months in the San Francisco area followed by four years and change as a Data Systems Technician aboard the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.
After the Navy Noel did some time as a technical consultant working on radio, paging, and mobile data networks, primarily in the public safety sector, before ultimately ending up as a geek of all trades working for a U.S. arm of a large European corporation, where he remains to this day. His work days are spent mostly on computers now, doing everything from 3D graphics to technical support and software engineering.
Noel is a bit of an odd duck around MotorwayAmerica.com, since he's much more partial to fast Italian motorcycles than cars. He's frequently been accused of purchasing his current vehicle, a 2007 Ford F-150 Supercrew, as a motorcycle accessory and finds the allegation difficult to deny.
His motorcycle and computer guru musings can be found at www.swamphole.org