The past two "Driver's Seats" have been serious. You had to put up with-or ignore-my whining about not making it to LeMans in October, and the November D.S. was definitely not light reading. This installment, by contrast, should be lighter going. In reality, it's kind of a bad news-good news thing.
First, the bad. After being an integral part of Team VETTE for the past year and a half, Assistant Editor PJ Rentie is leaving. Peej was offered a position as an automotive technology instructor at a community college here in Southern California, and teaching is something he's aspired to do for years. However, although PJ is leaving, we're not going to be rid of either him or his infamous '84 Corvette, the Blubonic Plague. He'll continue to provide us with articles on the Plague's progress from disreputable and disgusting to (hopefully) definitely desirable.
A portion of those articles should be of serious interest to owners of '82 and '84 Corvettes, as we (Peej and myself) are finally about ready to initiate a series on the Cross-Fire Injected 350s. We've determined that the plague's "Cease-Fire" is in good overall condition, so the first steps will be tuning one of these misunderstood motors for optimal stock performance. Once that's done, we'll move along to finding what works-and what doesn't-to get more power out of the Cross-Fire.
Good luck with your new endeavors, Peej, and we're glad you're still going to be a part of the team!
And now for the good news! Team VETTE's intrepid editorial assistant, John Nelson, is being promoted to Assistant Editor of VETTE Magazine. The vast majority of us who work on automotive magazines have been hard-core car junkies for most of our lives. At times it seems as though one of the prime criteria for being an editor or staffer is to have a permanent layer of grease under our fingernails. Most of us are the sorts who were modifying, building, and/or racing cars while we were in high school, and never have outgrown it-regardless of what educational or careers directions we took before winding up photographing and writing about cars on a full-time basis. We live and breathe cars, often at the expense of saner, more rational pursuits.
While John has always liked high-performance and sports cars, he wasn't out there on the lunatic fringe. Then he came to work at McMullen Argus Publishing, and his sanity and rationality began to erode. I had barely parked my posterior in the Driver's Seat of VETTE when John hit me up about trying his hand at writing some of our material. Then it was taking pictures and going to events. He's definitely proved he has the right stuff, not only with the stories he's written, but with a couple of car feature shoots-and a cover-to his credit. And this was while he was working his behind off as Editorial Assistant on both VETTE and Super Chevy. That's right, J.N.'s editorial contributions have been all been done on the side, during evenings and weekends!
He has evolved into a devout Corvette fanatic over the past 18 or so months, becoming more and more knowledgeable on a seemingly daily basis. Even more important, at least to me, is that John has had a fire burning in his belly, the desire, the determination, and the initiative to do more-a lot more-than what was required of him, because he wanted to prove himself should the opportunity to move into an editorial staff position ever arise.
I'm extremely pleased that John is getting the opportunity, and I feel that he richly deserves it. As a full-timer on Team VETTE, I expect he'll contribute a great deal, with a stream of fresh ideas (once in a while, maybe even a good one!), and a lot of great material.
If you meet John at an event, or talk to him on the phone, please welcome him to the wonderful world of Corvettes, America's Sports Cars.
Congratulations, John, it's great to have you on the team full-time!
Other News of Questionable Significance
Within the next few months, you'll see the byline "Mike Petralia" on some tech articles in VETTE. Mike recently joined our sister publication, Super Chevy, as Technical Editor. SC is one of the four titles (including, of course, VETTE) in McMullen Argus' GM Performance Group, and the editor, Terry Cole, is our group Editorial Director. Mike is both a hard-core techie and a hard-core Chevy enthusiast, and has quite a few years of magazine experience under his belt. He'll be lending his expertise and experience to Team VETTE as time and the need arise. Welcome to our asylum, Mike.
Things have been creeping along on the (not so) Great White's transformation into a C5 Shark. The original L48 350 has been extracted and is now bolted up, complete with every accessory, to an engine stand. As soon as I've scrounged up a couple of factory LS1 accessory brackets and a correct LS1 alternator, I'm gonna do a point-by-point dimensional comparison of the traditional Corvette small-block and the LS1, so I can determine exactly what it's going to take to fit the new generation engine into a second- or third-gen Corvette. The motor mount "pads" are positioned further aft on the LS1 than on a traditional small-block, so some sort of adapter/mounting plate/mounting bracket will be required.
I can't be absolutely certain until I've gotten the LS1 crate engine fully accessorized, but it appears as though the accessories (A/C compressor, power steering pump, and alternator) will probably need to be repositioned to fit both under the hood and within the confines of the frame and front suspension of the old Stingray. I fervently hope to have a progress report-and, of course, plenty of data about the swap-in the January issue. Why "fervently?" Cause, every time I can amass enough material for an article, it means I've made progress on getting my soon-to-be one-of-a-kind vintage Vette back on the road!
Oh yeah-this is the December issue, so, Happy Holidays from Team VETTE!