Sam Posey’s “Where the Writer Meets the Road” is a treasure trove

Posey finished fifth in his only Indy 500, in 1972. Photo: Bull Publishing
1 Comment

Perhaps the only downside of Sam Posey’s “Where the Writer Meets the Road” is that upon reading it, as a writer yourself, you know your own words can’t quite measure up.

Your goal, then, is to come as close as possible to matching the prose, poetry and poignancy of the chapters and stories Posey outlines within his third book.

The simple description of “Where the Writer Meets the Road,” published last March by David Bull Publishing and named the Best Book of 2015 by The Motor Press Guild, is that it’s an archival history of some of Posey’s career both behind the wheel and behind the microphone over the last 50-plus years.

The more elaborate description is that Posey has, in words more than pictures, managed to bring so much to life – whether it’s the cars themselves, the people he interacted with, the places he’s been, such as the forgotten and now-gone Speedway Motel in Indianapolis for instance, or the time period which the story took place.

Photo: Bull Publishing
Photo: Bull Publishing

The flow of the book is effortless, even as it mixes some of Posey’s driving career with his commentary career and then occasional interruptions with the brief “teases” that have become staples of the last 20 years of Formula 1 broadcasts in the U.S., including the last several years on the NBC Sports Group channels.

Included are a number of Posey’s introductions to legends for the Road Racing Drivers’ Club, a dinner of which is held in Long Beach every April. Those feted by Posey included Mario Andretti, Jim Hall, Roger Penske, Dan Gurney, Parnelli Jones and Brian Redman.

Humor is interspersed at the right moments. For instance, there’s a classic story after Posey made his final major sports car start and helped as Redman secured a championship in 1982, and ended with a trip to Siebkens and a cameo from David Hobbs. We’ll leave the rest of the story to the imagination.

Redman, himself, is among the drivers truly highlighted in the book. Posey seeks to remove the “underrated” term as it’s seemingly been perpetually attached to his name.

The romance and thrill of Le Mans is captured in a handful of essays, including two notably stark and different ways year-to-year for two different outlets. A Sports Illustrated piece outlines the challenge of driving at night; meanwhile a piece for Road & Track the following year describes the buildup to the race itself, and how as you see if you ever get to Le Mans, the week is so much more than just the 24 hours.

Photo: Bull Publishing
Photo: Bull Publishing

Posey recalls glory days in Trans-Am, the rise and later fall of Mark Donohue with Penske Racing, and his own love-hate relationship with Porsche – only Posey, seemingly, can get away with the essay he penned for R&T in 2013 as a rare dissenter in a sea of praise. Then again, with Posey having contributed to R&T since 1968, he pretty much has carte blanche at his disposal with his pen and paper… or keyboard and laptop.

A story I took particular appreciation in reading was Posey’s notes on what it meant to commentate the Indianapolis 500. Fans of a certain age will remember the classic Posey/Bobby Unser banter in the ABC booth with Paul Page the lead announcer split between the two.

To see the intense amount of preparation revealed, then explore how quickly you have to adjust on in the fly in the race itself, all while communicating back and forth with the production team and not saying the wrong thing at the wrong time was simply fascinating to read.

Lastly, of course, are the teases. I touched on them briefly in one of the earlier grafs but you get to see how Posey can take several key tidbits – Monaco, for example always will have the mix of yachts, glamour, history and the knife edge of adhesion – and find a way to make the story new, fresh and captivating at every opportunity.

Posey was one of a helluva driver, but he’s also one helluva wordsmith. And for any fan of racing, or if you could care less about racing and just love a great storyteller, “Where the Writer Meets the Road” is a must-read.

Fittingly, Posey will be inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America this June, for his splendid career.

Ford unveils a new Mustang for 2024 Le Mans in motorsports ‘lifestyle brand’ retooling

Ford Mustang Le Mans
Ford Performance

LE MANS, France — Ford has planned a return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans with its iconic Mustang muscle car next year under a massive rebranding of Ford Performance aimed at bringing the automotive manufacturer “into the racing business.”

The Friday unveil of the new Mustang Dark Horse-based race car follows Ford’s announcement in February (and a ballyhooed test at Sebring in March) that it will return to Formula One in 2026 in partnership with reigning world champion Red Bull.

The Mustang will enter the GT3 category next year with at least two cars in both IMSA and the World Endurance Championship, and is hopeful to earn an invitation to next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. The IMSA entries will be a factory Ford Performance program run by Multimatic, and a customer program in WEC with Proton Competition.

Ford CEO Jim Farley, also an amateur sports car racer, told The Associated Press the Mustang will be available to compete in various GT3 series across the globe to customer teams. But more important, Farley said, is the overall rebranding of Ford Performance – done by renowned motorsports designer Troy Lee – that is aimed at making Ford a lifestyle brand with a sporting mindset.

“It’s kind of like the company finding its own, and rediscovering its icons, and doubling down on them,” Farley told the AP. “And then this motorsports activity is getting serious about connecting enthusiast customers with those rediscovered icons. It’s a big switch for the company – this is really about building strong, iconic vehicles with enthusiasts at the center of our marketing.”

Ford last competed in sports car racing in 2019 as part of a three-year program with Chip Ganassi Racing. The team scored the class win at Le Mans in 2016 in a targeted performance aimed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Ford snapping Ferrari’s six-year winning streak.

Ford on Friday displayed a Mustang with a Lee-designed livery that showcased the cleaner, simplified look that will soon be featured on all its racing vehicles. The traditional blue oval with Ford Performance in white lettering underneath will now be branded simply FP.

The new mark will be used across car liveries, merchandise and apparel, display assets, parts and accessories and in advertising.

Farley cited Porsche as an automaker that has successfully figured out how to sell cars to consumers and race cars in various series around the world while creating a culture of brand enthusiasts. He believes Ford’s new direction will help the company sell street cars, race cars, boost interest in driving schools, and create a merchandise line that convinces consumers that a stalwart of American automakers is a hip, cool brand.

“We’re going to build a global motorsports business off road and on road,” Farley told the AP, adding that the design of the Mustang is “unapologetically American.”

He lauded the work of Lee, who is considered the top helmet designer among race car drivers.

“We’re in the first inning of a nine inning game, and going to Le Mans is really important,” Farley said. “But for customer cars, getting the graphics right, designing race cars that win at all different levels, and then designing a racing brand for Ford Performance that gets rebranded and elevated is super important.”

He said he’s kept a close eye on how Porsche and Aston Martin have built their motorsports businesses and said Ford will be better.

“We’re going in the exact same direction. We just want to be better than them, that’s all,” Farley said. “Second is the first loser.”

Farley, an avid amateur racer himself, did not travel to Le Mans for the announcement. The race that begins Saturday features an entry from NASCAR, and Ford is the reigning Cup Series champion with Joey Logano and Team Penske.

The NASCAR “Garage 56” entry is a collaboration between Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet and Goodyear, and is being widely celebrated throughout the industry. Farley did feel left out of the party in France – a sentiment NASCAR tried to avoid by inviting many of its partners to attend the race so that it wouldn’t seem like a Chevrolet-only celebration.

“They’re going right and I’m going left – that NASCAR thing is a one-year deal, right? It’s Garage 56 and they can have their NASCAR party, but that’s a one-year party,” Farley said. “We won Le Mans outright four times, we won in the GT class, and we’re coming back with Mustang and it’s not a one-year deal.

“So they can get all excited about Garage 56. I almost see that as a marketing exercise for NASCAR, but for me, that’s a science project,” Farley continued. “I don’t live in a world of science projects. I live in the world of building a vital company that everyone is excited about. To do that, we’re not going to do a Garage 56 – I’ve got to beat Porsche and Aston Martin and Ferrari year after year after year.”

Ford’s announcement comes on the heels of General Motors changing its GT3 strategy next season and ending its factory Corvette program. GM, which unlike Ford competes in the IMSA Grand Touring Prototype division (with its Cadillac brand), will shift fully to a customer model for Corvettes in 2024 (with some factory support in the IMSA GTD Pro category).