Commentary: The End of Year Three

Welcome to the C7 Reveal
The "year" really started here… Photo by Randy Stern

Another "year" has transitioned at Victory & Reseda.

The review of the newest Nissan Pathfinder signals the end of an extraordinary year in this life. It was a year that brought new adventures, some challenges and a mighty yield in this career. There were plenty of losses and gains along the way – but all had made me a stronger participant in the automotive media corps.

The highlights alone were career-making moments. I keep on repeating these milestones and blessing them until you are sick of hearing of them. However, they do bear repeating. It is because of these milestones that opened new doors along this path. They continued to be blessings months after the fact.

Though in the midst of another VOTY season, allow me to look back at what made this third "year" of V&R a huge one…

NAIAS: One acronym said it all. A new automotive writer only dreamed of being in Detroit, to hobnob with the big executives and absorb what winter would yield inside Cobo Center. My invitation came before last Christmas. I accepted knowing that this would be my best shot in doing so. Two days inside Cobo, plus the experience of a launch party for General Motors' biggest product ever – the 2014 Corvette Stingray. Outside of the show, plenty happened. It opened up a new window inside Detroit for me – a side of the Motor City that is on the level of everywhere else I roamed. The story of ruin, bankruptcy and crime was supplanted by hope and pride. Was it all a dream? It certainly was not.

THE BIGGEST VOTY HANDOFF EVER: When I boarded my Thursday morning flight from Minneapolis-St Paul to Midway Airport, I still had no idea when I was to present the 2012 Vehicle of the Year Award to Chrysler Group LLC for the Dodge Dart. Nor, did I know whom I was to give it to. The answer was revealed by the time I hit the Van Buren METRA station on the Electric Line. All I had to do was catch the next train to McCormick Place and put all of the pieces together. By 11:00AM, Reid Bigland, CEO of Chrysler Canada and the Dodge brand (now running Ram Trucks), was presented with VOTY '12. It could be just another Chicago Auto Show for me – it turned out to be the best one ever.

TRACK EXPERIENCE AND MORE: Attending my first Midwest Automotive Media Association Spring Rally yielded more milestones than I anticipated. It was my first time on a racecourse – but, not as a driver. It was also the first time I drove some of the finest automobiles in the world – namely Bentley, Rolls-Royce and Jaguar. It was also the first autocross experience that was not contrived. However, the biggest yield from my experience at Road America came a month later. I received an e-mail from the CTO of – a fellow MAMA member whom I roomed with at the Osthoff Hotel during the rally – who was interested in having me write for them. It turns out that I am now writing for – some of my work is already published in their online Buyer’s Guide. That alone truly made this "year" amazing so far.

MAKING INROADS: It had been a while since the Twin Cities hosted a Concours event. I caught wind of a new one at this year's Twin Cities Auto Show and knew I had to wait until it happened. The PR team behind the Auto Show was also involved with the 10,000 Lakes Concours d'Elegance, therefore a simple announcement became a story. It was luck that I was on the spot for two outlets and had extraordinary access to this event. It turned out to be a fantastic first effort for the new Concours. I bless the people behind this event and cannot wait until the next one.

These four points on this past year's map were huge ones. Each step along the way brought this site and this writer a bit further up the map in this business. They are worth repeating, because one may never know what will be around the corner. They could be seen as bullet points on a resume.

To feed this anaconda, the lifeblood of this work and keep it relevant for you and the subject matter is the evaluation of new vehicles. This is the point that draws you in – no matter which outlet my work appears in. I will not count the number of vehicles I drove this "year." That would be mere bragging. Nor will I make comparisons between each one – that is the job of the VOTY process.

It had been a busy year in this career. The VOTY process formally concludes the work of the year. However, I am already working on material for Year Four. The vehicles have not stopped coming in for testing. In fact, you may find some that should have been included in this year's VOTY.

What would Year Four bring to V&R? Stay tuned…

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