Los Angeles 2014: An Experience

I walked away from the 2014 LA Auto Show with some clarity. The operative word here is "some."

It was a serious show, if you consider the temper of the debuts. The subcompact crossover segment has three more entries to this emerging market. Scion is setting a new course on product with the first of two new vehicles coming to Toyota's youthful brand, and Cadillac has fired a broadside on BMW with the ATS-V. In order to become mainstream, Chrysler revised the 300 for a more aggressive stance and much needed additions to be the best of all worlds.

The highlight was the presenting of the 2014 Vehicle of The Year award to Tim Kuniskis, the CEO of Dodge. Before the photo op with 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT, Kuniskis looked at the award for longer than most people pay notice to it. I wasn't sure if he was judging the award and its small weight against others he will surely receive during this model year. But, I was glad Kuniskis and the folks at Fiat Chrysler Automobile accepted this #VOTY – its second for the Dodge brand an the OEM. Since I already had a connection with Kuniskis, the short time with the award was resonant. I felt even prouder on this hand off than any other in the past.

There were more headlines. These were the ones that stood out for me. I learned that this show can be a handful to cover, if you do not pace yourself. I always played the solo act. With James Hamel, MaryAnne Pongco Wendt and Joel Arellano of Why This Ride? – I became part of a team. This LA Auto Show also had me producing work for CarSoup.com and a local dealership chain in the Twin Cities. There were other duties and requests to fulfill here. Not sure where to start, but they are slowly being fulfilled.

There were other discussions regarding an expansion of a current freelance client. At this stage, I cannot confirm what was proposed or details of what that expansion looks like.

Even though there was a lot of progress in my professional life, one thing did hit me while working the 2014 LA Auto Show. I am not certain if I would call it being unprepared, but it certainly felt like I was. I was not in a good space to try to keep up with the pace of the show to fulfill all of my clients' needs from it.

Because of this, I ended up swept up in the tsunami of faceless media and industry folk that I became lost in the plot. That was not a good feeling. By the time I was ready to go to another presser, my body reacted. My feet, legs and left kidney acted up. Perhaps it was the long corridor connecting both halls that compounded a quick response to covering everything.

It is hard to say what I could do differently the next time I attend the LA Auto Show. Understanding the pace between press conferences and the layout of the two halls, it would be best to approach this on a team basis with another outlet. It would also be prudent not to load up on outlets wanting this work and to think that I have to deliver everything to them. It would be great to stick with being professional and not worry about "competition," whoever likes you or not, and wanting to inflict pain on a questionable person brandishing a tape measure on a door sill as you are about to photograph that vehicle.

This is a job for a lot of us – not another day at high school.

There was some balance at the show. It happened after the 2015 Chrysler 300 presser. The brand's CEO Al Gardner is a witty man and my interactions with him involve laughter…and more laughter. Our discussion relayed some feedback to Ralph Gilles (do we need to identify his position at FCA other than "coolest man in the auto industry?") on what I loved about the revisions. We got to thinking: How about dropping the 6.4liter "392" V8 into the new 300. It does not necessary have to be a SRT model, but perhaps a paean to the 60th anniversary of the original by giving a "Letter" designation. Then, the discussion went on to suggest a paean to the Three Hundreds (spelled out during the "Fuselage" body years). Gardner was astonished we even discussed the Fuselage bodied full-sized Chryslers. Someone at FCA should have warned the executives that I know my Mopar history very, very well…

Being it is my first LA Auto Show, I walk away with an experience and some lessons learned. That is all of the clarity I got from it. I suppose it is on to the next one.

All photos by Randy Stern, except for the cover photo by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles for Victory & Reseda

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