Life is honestly too short to sit back and wait for things to happen.
I like to think this is what Sir William of Caswell was thinking when he decided to leave his previous life behind to wrench on a Bimmer tearing through a rally stage on nothing but adrenaline, booze, and booze mixed with energy drinks. I imagine when Bill isn't out lapping the Nürburgring or getting into bar fights he's a pretty normal guy. One who just happens to be living out his dream. There's no reason you can't also.
The trick to getting a press pass in a closely regarded industry secret and divulging such information is strictly verboten.
This story starts just over a month ago, a friend of mine told me I could piggyback off of him and get into the car show during the press days. He said it was an experience unlike any you have ever had at the New York International Auto Show. I was intrigued to say the least. The prospect of talking to actual company reps, seeing cars with their shift knobs still in place, and being able to spend more than 30 seconds behind the wheel of a Mini Paceman without a young pacific island child smudging his face into the driver side window seemed like a dream. But was it attainable?
It's been a day now since I attended my first press event at the NYAS. I sat down at the end of the night, knees aching from being on my feet for 14 hours straight, and dumped out the contents of my pockets. I felt pretty damn pleased with how the day had gone and how I had made it happen.
Truth be told I didn't really deserve to be at this press event, not yet anyways (This may or may not have sparked a creative interest for me). The trick to getting a press pass is a closely regarded industry secret and divulging such information is strictly verboten. I am currently a Mechanical Engineering student at Binghamton University in upstate New York. I don't write for MotorTrend nor am I a videographer for NBC. What I am is an automotive enthusiast. Armed only with my wits, a desire to park my ass in exotic bolstered leather seats, and a Canon DSLR, I set out to "Carpe Caswell". Hopped on a train into Penn Station, walked to the Javits center, followed the signs for the press check in desk. I got approved too late to have my press badge mailed to me so I was told I needed to pick it up when I checked in. Walk up to the counter with a smile, "Hi my name is..." followed by a swift kick in the nuts. "I'm sorry sir, we don't seem to have you in the system." This crap never happens to Chris Harris. I imagine when he shows up to the Geneva auto show they trip over themselves to throw keys at him. That kind of hospitality doesn't happen to us Caswells. We're still trudging through the booby-trapped rally stage at this point.
I watched a small humanoid robot dance to pop music as my first press event at an auto show.
Surely there's been a mistake, but it would take another 20 minutes of confident smiles and knowledge to con my way into a press badge. I had been told I was admitted a week prior. I came all the way into the city with my camera in hand, I'll be damned before I go home empty handed (Protip:Toyota has cool custom rubik's cubes). The automotive gods parted the seas and the head press officer okay'd my pass. I couldn't get in touch with my friends who were already there at this point. No sooner do I turn around and a horde of journalists come pouring out of the Dodge Press Conference. They moved together like sheep shuffling along to the next area. I slipped into the pack like the protagonist in Assassins Creed. Up escalators and stairs they marched, directed by the sheepdogs in yellow Auto Show shirts holding signs with arrows saying "Next Press Conference this way". Everyone is gathering in front of the Honda booth. It appears as if something will happen there. All eyes faced forward trained on the rehearsed speech from a high up from Honda. Except it wasn't really rehearsed. I was the only one who looked back and saw this teleprompter scrolling away. Maybe they all noticed it at some point and didn't care anymore. They next brought up ASIMO on stage to show off his balance features. I watched a small humanoid robot dance to pop music as my first press event at an auto show.
I was impressed, but what was most impressive is that they fed me afterwords, they thanked me for watching a 20 minute presentation that involved the HUGE BUILDUP that was the HR-V (not the vehicle itself just the name). I actually ate salmon and was reasonable satisfied. Had I ordered the same meal downstairs in the food court it would have cost me just shy of ticking the PCCB option box on a new 911. Moving on we checked out a few things at Scion looking at the new Series 1.0 FR-S. It was decked out with all the TRD options and the first thing I noticed was the
look at me yellow paint job quad exhaust tips that obviously meant that nothing substantial had been done to the power plant.
Koenigsegg. Everything changed here. The next press conference was across the hall at the Manhattan Motorcars booth. I had expected another marketing professional to be reading another rote speech. As I approached the booth I see a familiar looking sight.
Its him, its actually Christian Von Koenigsegg. Founder of Koenigsegg, owner of the FlexFuel patent (to which he receives the majority of his money and what gives him the freedom to make truly amazing cars). What is he doing here? I start snapping away pictures as he delivers his speech. *My friend nudges me* , "Look...thats Leo Parente. And there's Mike Spinelli." I've got a weird feeling now. Its not starstruck, but they're like the baseball cards I'd collect if being in the automotive industry was a sport.
"I'll trade you a Raphael Orlove and two Spinelli's for your Chris Harris"
I had just watched the /Drive video just days prior of Inside Koenigsegg 2 where Christian talked about 3D printing parts. As an Engineer who is actively working with 3D printers and an automotive enthusiast this is huge for me. It was like my brain shorted and I had a single purpose for the time being. I had to
enter WRC Mexico talk to Christian about 3D printing and aero and all sorts of nerdy stuff. After all we both have an engineering background. He gave his speech off the cuff and at the end they fired up the Agera R quickly and revved it a bit. Our colleges from across the pond like to use the word "rorty" If rorty means 1200 hp vibrating your chest then it was certainly applicable in this situation. I patiently waited as Mr. Koenigsegg talked with various large media for interviews and smooth talked prospective clients. I finally had my opportunity to talk to the man himself.
"Hi, Mr. Koenigsegg"
"I don't really belong here, I'm an engineering student...(deep breath)...but I saw the most recent video you did for /Drive talking about rapid prototyping using 3D printers..."
...I nailed my forehead getting out of the damn Agera R
For the next 10 minutes Christian Von Koenigsegg entertained all of my questions, walking me, a student through the car showing off all the technical prowess he has accumulated in the 20 years he's been making hypercars. We talked about meeting German safety standards for carbon fiber wheels, potential US regulations allowing Agera's to be sold stateside, US DOT crash test requirements, carbon monocoques, the operation of the triplex suspension. I have never met a more down to earth guy in my life. Then I asked him if I could sit in the car. No one else had done so apart from the BBC reporter who conducted an interview with the big man inside the car. He said yes as long as my jeans didn't have any rivets that could damage the interior (they didn't). I gingerly lowered myself into the soft subtle heavily bolstered leather seat and tightened my grip on the steering wheel. I am sitting behind the wheel of a $1.6 MILLION FUCKING DOLLAR HYPEROMG. My heart starts beating so fast I struggle to hold my cell phone still enough to instagram this moment which my friends would never believe if I didn't have photographic evidence. Not wanting to overextend my stay I want to get out of the car quickly so it doesn't look like I'm about to do something mischievous, the key was in the ignition after all. As I begin pulling myself out of the carbon monocoque I nailed my forehead getting out of the damn Agera R! I have a bruise on my head today because of it. But it wouldn't dampen my spirits at all.
It honestly felt great, I walked away from our technical talk with a renewed confidence. Then I spotted JF Musial and made a b-line for him. I've been wanting to get into reviewing cars as a hobby and have been trying to position myself in the right place to do so for a while. I also really enjoy filming as well so I talked to JF for a little while and offered my services and he told me to e-mail him and show him what I had. Fucking killing it right now.
I spent the next 4 hours canvasing the pavilion is peace hopping inside most vehicles. 90% of which would probably be locked tomorrow. There was a point where I could have screwed off a shift knob and kept it as a trophy, surely whatever isn't nailed down will by gone by tomorrow night. It felt so petty, "thats a public day thing, you've made it to the big leagues" I thought to myself. Before the end I sat in the one car I could realistically see myself buying in the near future. A Ford Fiesta ST. I want this car so badly but the ex-girlfriend Jetta will have to suffice for now.''
I left the show, spent an hour decompressing and recharging my dead cell phone in Starbucks reflecting on the day's events. I had to high tail it back almost to the Javits center to make it over to the BlipShift/Jalopnik afterparty that I RSVP'd to. I was desperately hoping I wouldn't have to talk to 8 different people to get in. Walk in, say my name, get a wristband. That was easy. I walk in and realize, I'm a damn commenter on an automotive blog. I know no one here. I mean I see JF, Mike Spinelli, Travis Okluski, and various other names that I'm struggling to match faces with. I can't just walk in and start talking to these guys about that great article they wrote last week. Plus some of them are chatting up girls, it is a party after all and I highly doubt that they'd like to be interrupted by some kid asking about the power-to-weight ratio of the new Z28 and if I should just buy a Miata. Headlights go up, headlights go down. Bought an awesome shirt from the BlipShift people. Honestly if you haven't checked them out yet BlipShift is a really awesome company. Then I found someone who looked a bit lost in all the commotion like me. Introduced myself and just started talking cars. Its a BlipShift/Jalopnik party you can't fail just talking about turbo's and flat sixes.
Mike Spinelli is so much more than awesome hair. Got to talking about how we want more Mike on the show, how the only person who could possibly replace him is Alex Roy, and how damn good the Z28 is (there were no girls around at this point). Honestly can't wait for the review. I am so unbelievably jealous that this guy drove a 918 around COTA chasing down Patrick Long in a 991 Turbo. The after party was filled with really awesome people from all different backgrounds. I just wish I had a business card, everyone was asking me for one. I'm just a mechanical engineering student right now. What do I put on it?
- Mechanical & Social Engineer
I think I can get used to this press thing...
This article has be reposted on my new website. Valvehalla.net