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Last Look - Spring 2014

By Ro McGonegal

We're at Lions. Maybe it's Tuesday, I don't remember. The gentlemen in the photograph are Rick Voegelin (hand in pocket) and Norman Mayersohn (hand out for some sort of alms maybe?). We were there, me with camera, to see what had become of the Watermelon Project, a Maverick painted Anti-Establish Mint (the color of a wan watermelon). The car was mine and I, along with a cast of enablers, had grown it with a Crane dyno motor, a Super T-10 and a 9-inch axle that I bought from Tex Collins for $150.

But more germane to this note are the carousers with the smarmy looks. I hired them, Rick during a breezy lunch on San Francisco's Fishermen's Wharf and Norman one sweltering afternoon in the pits at York U.S. 30 in Pennsylvania—Rick a California native, Norman a Jersey Boy. I was impressed with their credentials and their unnatural yen to work at something they loved. Racers? Yes. Later, they would campaign a Modified Production Camaro. Thinkers? Yes. They are glib, humorous, and knowledgeable and have that endearing quality of self-deprecation.

Norman: "Let's see, I was fresh out of Rutgers and the Army, short hair and no beard. Came from New Jersey with an O/Stock record to my credit (don't know if it had been reset by that time) and a long-haired German shepherd. You hired me as tech editor. You fired Larry Schrieb [who went on to found prolific S-A Design tech publications] to make the room for me. I lasted a few years at CC, bounced around, freelancing, and moved north to Saratoga in 1977.

"I came back to CC as Jon Asher's hire in 1981 (I think). In 1982, I left La La Land to return to The Center of the Universe, still freelancing. Started at Popular Mechanics in 1984, later did advertising agencies and was auto editor at Popular Science. I've been at the New York Times for 10 years now as deputy automobiles editor. Still have my Kawasaki cafe racer, have a (different) 1967 Camaro and have been infiltrating drag racing and bikes into the Gray Lady whenever nobody's looking."

Rick: "Yeah, you hired me in June 1972 as feature editor to replace Fred M. H. Gregory, who had ascended to writing Petersen editorials. I succeeded [John] Dianna as editor starting with Mar. 1976 issue. My last issue was Dec. 1979 before handing over the Good Ship CC to Jon Asher.

"Left L.A. in 1979 to move to central California coast so I could have a barn filled with derelict Camaros, founded High Performance Communications (freelance writing, photography, and graphic design, gradually morphed into racing PR). Managed PR for Oldsmobile drag racing program from 1988–95, and then did Oldsmobile in IMSA road racing 1995–96, Oldsmobile Indy Racing League 1997–2001, Chevrolet Indy Car 2002–05, then Corvette Racing 2005–12. Also did motorsports PR for GM Goodwrench, AC Delco, race teams, etc. Edited Chevy Thunder starting Jan. 1986, last issue was June 1998. As you can see, I have been unemployed and unemployable for 33 years."

As for the Watermelon Maverick, I don't remember if we ran it at Lions that day. I do remember almost getting killed in it when a back tire came off it at 70 late one night on the Harbor Freeway. I distinctly remember the wheel bounding across the freeway median and disappearing over the opposite lanes and down an embankment—where there were people living. Donny Green saved me that night with a spare off his Charger and the almighty jack. I sold the thing for about $12 a few days before moving back east for the first time. I never saw it again. I wish I had it now. Life's funny like that.

By Ro McGonegal
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