Like other such groups around the country, the Phoenix Automotive Press Association stages monthly member meetings covering a variety of “hot topics.” These include presentations by executives and other industry newsmakers, “backgrounders” on new technologies and social issues, and “ride-and-drive” sessions with new cars and trucks. Here’s a look at some recent PAPA events through the lens of member and professional photographer Randall Bohl (www.randallbohl.com).
PAPA members got an in-depth look at the new-for-2009 Dodge Ram pickup at an April 2008 lunch session with Chrysler Group design executive Ralph Gillies (below).
Teen driving safety was the focus of an event staged by Ford Motor Company at Phoenix’s famous Firebird Raceway in May 2008. PAPA members not only heard about a Ford-sponsored national program that shows teens how to be better drivers, they got to experience some of the actual training exercises involved, such as the emergency lane-change maneuver.
Above: General Motors design executive Bryan Nesbitt sat down with PAPA members for a dinner at the Arizona Biltmore Resort in September 2008. Mr. Nesbitt moved to GM after making his professional mark at Chrysler Group as chief designer of the PT Cruiser, among other products. The Phoenix native provided a number of “quoteable quotes” about his career, automotive design trends, and the inner workings of the GM Design Staff. Below (from left): Members Jim Preuter, Chris Poole and Ron Will gave Mr. Nesbitt their full attention, along with Dawn McKenzie of GM Public Relations.
Top Left: PAPA president Chris Poole (standing) chats with Phoenix-based automotive engineer and author Robert Q. Riley at a February 2009 meeting devoted to the whys and wherefores of alternative-fuel vehicles. Below: As part of his presentation, Mr. Riley detailed the ecology-focused design thinking that went into a prototype of his own two-seat plug-in hybrid vehicle, the XR3.
Air quality is as much a concern in the fast-growing Valley of the Sun as it is anywhere else in the country, so Phoenix media are always interested in keeping their readers and viewers up to date on hybrids and other alternative-fuel-vehicle technology. Top Left: Here, PAPA members get a detailed “walkaround” introduction to the Honda Insight hybrid sedan as part of a March 2009 luncheon presentation by American Honda executives. Below (from left): Members Nina Russin, Brenda Priddy and Chris Poole were among those getting their first, er, insights into Honda’s first four-door hybrid.
Left and below left: Busy world-class driver Darren Law gave PAPA members a fascinating glimpse into the life of professional long-distance racing in May 2009, only a few months after winning the gruelling Daytona 24 Hours. He competes in the Rolex Grand Am Series as a member of the Brumos Porsche Team and pilots a GT2-Class Porsche for Flying Lizard Motorsports in the American LeMans Series. Below right: The legendary Bob Bondurant was on hand to listen to Mr. Law, who is a former instructor at the famed Bondurant School of High-Performance Driving. The School relocated many years ago from California to Phoenix’s Firebird Raceway. Buddying up with Bob are PAPA members Cathy Droz and Bill Zervakos, the dynamic duo behind www.twofortheroadusa.com.
Everyone loves to talk about car styling, and the Phoenix area is home to a good many retired automotive designers. Among them are member Ron Will (left and far left below), formerly of General Motors and Subaru of America; veteran hot-rodder and design consultant Herb Grasse (center below); and former Chrysler staffer Bob Marcks. Thanks to Mr. Will, the three teamed up in November 2008 for PAPA’s first “Designer’s Night,” an informational forum held at the Garagetown USA “car condominum” complex in suburban Chandler. The trio, not truly “retired,” also brought along samples of their work past and present (bottom).
PAPA returned to Firebird Raceway in October 2009 for a get-acquainted session with Ford’s 2010 Raptor, a specially engineered version of the top-selling F-150 pickup that has Arizona written all over it. Dearborn’s dunes-and-desert flyer impressed with nimble, easy-drive on-road manners and amazing off-road prowess, the latter demonstrated on a demanding rocks-and-sand course built just for this occasion.
Apropos of Arizona’s famed classic-car “auction week” was PAPA’s special old-car-hobby forum staged in January 2010 at the Phoenix Art Museum. Founding president Larry Edsall (above, far left) acted as emcee for guests Don Williams of Northern California’s Blackhawk Collection (top left), Donald Osborne of Classic Car Market Newsletter (right), and McKeil Hagerty of collector-vehicle underwriter Hagerty Insurance (bottom lrft). The forum promises to be an annual event itself.
In line with PAPA’s mission of promoting excellence in journalism and journalistic education, the group’s May 2010 meeting featured Tim McGuire, a professor at Arizona State University who teaches courses in journalism ethics, diversity, and the business and future of journalism. He also holds a law degree and is the Frank Russell Chair for the Business of Journalism at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications. Previously Mr. McGuire was editor and senior vice-president of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, and the nationally syndicated columnist of “More Than Work,” which focused on ethics, spirituality and values in the workplace. His PAPA presentation touched on pressing issues such as the “creative destruction” going on in the media business; the shift in informational power from institutions to consumers; the need for journalists to collaborate as problem-solvers; and the growing importance of social networking outlets such as Facebook and Twitter. Mr. McGuire’s remarks touched off a lengthy and lively discussion.