Find Me This Summer!

Formula E Long Beach 2016
Formula E Long Beach 2016

I’ll be traveling tons over the summer! You can find me at all kinds of events that explore the future of automotive and transportation issues. Three of these events explore the possibilities and pitfalls of these issues; the other two tackle them on the ground with actual cars you can buy or watch race right now.

Here are the dates:

  • June 13-15, 2017: MovinOn conference, Montreal
  • June 21-22, 2017: Drive Revolution, Portland, OR
  • June 28-July 1, 2017: Aspen Ideas Festival, Aspen, CO
  • July 13-16, 2017: Formula E, Brooklyn
  • August 6-9, 2017: National Electric Co-op Statewide Editors Association Conference, Whitefish, MT

If you’d like to meet up at an event, contact me. If you’d like me to write a story for your outlet about any of these events, contact me. If you have questions about the future of transportation, contact me. Basically, just get in touch. I’d love to hear from you.

Next Event: LA Auto Show

I’ll be flying down to Los Angeles to see all the shiny cars and shiny people at the automotive press days Nov. 18-19. The Connected Car Expo takes place the day before in the convention center, and I’ll be there too, reporting on the latest automotive tech. Fingers crossed Nissan brings in the fancy grilled cheese food cart again this year! I’ll be posting about all the coolest, shiniest stuff I find on my Take the Wheel Facebook page and on Twitter, where I’m @kristenhg. Follow me to find out if grilled cheese dreams come true!

New! Free! Content! 8 Tips for Taking a Test Drive

In honor of International Women’s Day today, I just added an excerpt of the chapter on test driving a car over on the Take the Wheel site. There are tips for new cars and used cars, and stats to back up why women are actually better at this than men.

And in the words of Annette Sykora, past president of the national dealer’s association, “It’s not necessary to bring a man along, but it is necessary to bring your confidence along.”



Take the Wheel Is Available!

How did I end up not updating my homepage? Who knows. The book came out, there were deadlines to meet, there were holidays, there were marketing moves, there were more deadlines … and my blog sat here alone and unloved.

There was lots of activity over on the Take the Wheel page, though. And more things going on at the Take the Wheel Facebook page. And as of today, I’ve got a Goodreads author page, too. So I’m everywhere — and yet I seem to never leave my writing studio.

I got advance copies made at Powell's Books on the fly.
I got advance copies made at Powell’s Books on the fly.

Mustang Runs on Girl Power

First, if you’re not a car person, and a techy one at that, you need to know that there’s a thing called SEMA. It has a big flashy show full of big flashy cars and parts and accessories in Las Vegas every November. Second, and this was news even to me, there’s a SEMA Businesswomen’s Network.

Now that you know those two things, it makes sense that Ford has teamed up with SBN to create a Ford Mustang designed and modified by a team of women. Ford provided the car, and a team of SBN members will build the redesigned one-off this summer. Internauts were able to vote on the design, and this once, called “High Gear,” was the winner.

The idea is to highlight the shocking fact that there are indeed women working in the automotive and aftermarket industries in fields as far apart as engine modifications, sound systems, and PR. The car will be auctioned off to benefit SEMA’s scholarship fund. The press release doesn’t specify that the dollars raised will go to girls, though.

Remind Me Why I Love My Job

Ah, yes. I love my job because sometimes I get to write articles with fascinating story lines, long-ish word counts, and fantastic pictures. Like this one for the New York Times Autos section, on the Allure of the Automobile at Portland Art Museum this summer.

The cars themselves were great, beautiful, worthy of art museum treatment. But the really interesting part came in talking to Don Urquhart, who was in charge of the logistics of bringing in some of the largest, heaviest passenger cars ever built. Also some of the most rare and expensive vehicles on the planet. No pressure.

I got to report this story in the way I like best. I did preliminary research and interviews to make sure I knew what I was talking about, then hung out at the museum for something like seven hours the day the first eight or nine cars were moved in. I watched Steve McQueen’s racing Jag drip oil onto the cardboard placed on the museum floor and heard the Le Mans-winning Ferrari get fired up. I watched a guy’s hand get pinched between an expensive outdoor statue and a more expensive 70-year-old tank of a car. I heard his friend make fun of him.

I had written a draft with 400 words too many the week before; when I got home that night, I had to add the precise details I had witnessed that day and cut lots of extraneous bits. I turned it in that night (only 200 words over my assigned count), it was on my editor’s desk in New York the next morning, and it was online — along with a gorgeous slide show by Leah Nash — by Friday.

Shout Out to the L.A. Auto Show!

I spent most of last week in Los Angeles for the auto show, which I attend for my job, but maybe not in the way you think. I do go to the press conferences and take pictures and notes and write stuff up immediately for and later for the likes of or anyone else I can pick up as a client. But I also work the network.

The L.A. Auto Show is one of those events where I am guaranteed to run into a lot of people I know — mostly West Coasters — who then introduce me to people I want to know (hello, Lotus PR guy!). For example, fellow About guide Jeff Zurschmeide gave me the contacts to get into the swanky FIAT party, where I saw fellow NWAPA members and MSN Autos editors Perry Stern and Mike Meredith.

At that same party, I met up with Doug Newcomb, technology writer for and also living in Oregon. It turns out our birthdays are only days apart, and we both wanted to visit Cole’s the oldest restaurant in downtown L.A. Whiskey and French dips, my friends. The necessary antidote to a day spent at a glitzy auto show.

At the Lotus booth, I ran into another guide, Aaron Gold, who worked his networking magic on the Lotus people for me, and there was yet another guide at the Mercedes-Benz press conference, Basem Wasef, who helped me out with a picture of a Lamborghini reveal that I missed.

Thanks to all these folks, I didn’t have to spend a single evening alone in L.A. watching Cake Boss reruns on TV. Which was nice, since the Cake Boss brought a giant FIAT 500-shaped cake to the party. Tasty.

Live from L.A.!

I landed in Los Angeles yesterday afternoon, way earlier than necessary. I figured I’d use my afternoon wisely and work in my room (at the Millennium Biltmore, which is lovely), but they wanted $10 per 24 hours for wi-fi. But, resourceful freelance journalist that I am, I noticed that the Central Public Library was right next door. Guess what? It has free wi-fi everywhere in the building. I found a table and set up for an hour of work, then saved a couple of web pages for working offline later. It was a slow connection, but it was free. Libraries FTW!

After taking a walk around downtown L.A., I returned to the Biltmore lobby for the lighting of the Christmas tree. There were carolers, cookies, and hot apple cider. I happened to stand next to a man who works in Texas governor Rick Perry’s office on automotive issues, among other things. We chatted for quite a while. Poor guy. If you ask me questions about new automotive technology, I’m going to tell you what I know. It takes longer than you’d think.

A couple hours later, I had an awful dinner of two oversized shrimp with the shells still on, feet and all. There was a yummy tomato sauce drizzled over the shrimp, but I defy you to get the meat out of the shells without making a tomato-sauce mess. Luckily, the bottle of Kirin was pint-plus sized, so that was really my dinner. Also luckily, the media breakfast at the show this morning was a full breakfast, with bacon and blintzes and the like. So it made up for my two big shrimp.

Bob Lutz just took his turn at the podium to open the show. He was a last-minute replacement for Fritz Henderson, who was head of GM until yesterday afternoon. It was an incredibly boring speech. Also, Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini, and Bentley pulled out of this year’s show, so I have a lot of time to myself this morning. I’ll go take pictures while everyone else is at the Chevy, VW, and Toyota conferences.

Aston Martin DB9 Volante Test Drive

I can’t believe I didn’t post this sooner. Last weekend, I had to (had to? please) take the train to Seattle to pick up a 2009 Aston Martin DB9 Volante at King Station and drive it back home to Portland. In case you aren’t hip to the Aston lingo, “Volante” is James-Bond-style code for “convertible.”

It was sunny and 71 degrees for the entire 175-mile drive. I brought my Maserati hat to keep the sun off my nose. It’s my favorite hat, and yes, I do realize that wearing a Maser hat while driving an Aston puts me in full d-bag territory. Whatever.

You can see pics of the car taken by yours truly at my Exotic Cars site. I’ve got a review to write this week, too, but that’s proving more of a structural challenge. Ah, the life of the automotive journalist.