About Us

The Phoenix Automotive Press Association, fondly known as PAPA, began as an informal, Wednesday night pizza group in 1999. It has come a long way from those pizza times at Nello’s in Ahwatukee with a variety of events and diverse membership of about 75 at its peak.

Larry Edsall (left) chats with fellow member Nick Calderone

Programming has become somewhat informal in the last couple years, the highlight of 2018 being participation in the Southwest Media Lifestyle ride and drive. A group of longtime members now are working to ensure PAPA’s future. 

Back to the early days. Founding president Larry Edssall says,  “Actually, those Wednesday night pizza dinners started long before I arrived in Phoenix.” Auto writer Nina (Padgett) Russin and automotive spy photographer Brenda Priddy both lived in Ahwatukee, and every Wednesday night they would get together, with their families, for pizza. Usually, they were joined by Bob Golfen, then auto writer for The Arizona Republic.

“When I came to Phoenix in December 1999 and bought my house in the far western ‘Ahwatukee foothills,’ I was invited to join the Wednesday night get-together,” Edsall says.

“One Wednesday, we got to talking about the automotive press associations in other major cities – the Automotive Press Association I belonged to in Detroit, the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) in Chicago, where Nina used to work, and the Motor Press Guild in Los Angeles. I wondered if there were other automotive journalists in Phoenix and Nina, Brenda and Bob each came up with a few names. The idea of a Phoenix automotive press association was germinated.”

The first official meeting of the Phoenix Automotive Press Association (PAPA) came in early 2001. “We gathered at the historic San Marcos resort near downtown Chandler to hear our first speaker, champion auto racer turned driving school manager, Bob Bondurant,” Edsall recalls.