238 episodes

Hosted by James Raia and Bruce Aldrich, The Weekly Driver Podcast dives deep into the highways and byways of the automotive world. Each week, we put you in the driver’s seat, exploring unique, unusual, and often untold stories from across the industry’s spectrum.

The Weekly Driver Podcast James Raia and Bruce Aldrich

    • Leisure
    • 4.8 • 4 Ratings

Hosted by James Raia and Bruce Aldrich, The Weekly Driver Podcast dives deep into the highways and byways of the automotive world. Each week, we put you in the driver’s seat, exploring unique, unusual, and often untold stories from across the industry’s spectrum.

    #285, Hagerty’s 40-year celebration

    #285, Hagerty’s 40-year celebration

    Tarra Warnes and her husband once owned two Yugos. The sub-compact three-door hatchback and two-door convertible are often cited as the worst vehicles in history. The Yugo enthusiast family's idea was to use one vehicle to provide parts for its counterpart's restoration as a race car.

    The outcome isn't as relevant as the irony of Warnes telling the tale. She's vice president of creative strategy at Hagerty. It's the insurance company, marketplace, magazine, website publisher and automotive event organizer focusing on classic cars and their owners.

    Tarra is our guest this week on The Weekly Driver Podcast. Co-host Bruce Aldrich and I interview Warnes about Hagerty's advancement from a small company to its current status with more than 1,700 employees.

    The company began in 1984. Husband and wife Frank and Louise Hagerty couldn't find satisfactory insurance coverage for their wooden boats, so their new Michigan company did. Insurance for cars and other vehicles followed. The couple's son McKeel Hagerty became CEO in 2000.

    "We started as a niche insurance company; it was built by people who love cars and it was built for people who love cars," said Warnes, a 15-year employee. "We have grown now in 40 years to insure about 2.4 million vehicles and we are a community and hub for millions of classic car lovers."

    From its insurance beginnings, Hagerty's magazine, the company reports, has 815,000 print subscribers and a "robust" online presence with social media channels. Hagerty is also the "steward" for multiple automotive events. The brand's most recent offering is Marketplace where consumers can buy and sell vehicles. Live auctions are also held via Hagerty's relationship with Broad Arrow Auctions.

    The company also owns the Greenwich Concours d'Elégance, Concours d’Elegance of America and the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance. It also established MotorsportReg.com and Hagerty Garage.

    The magazine's success has prompted substantially increased public brand awareness. The publication debuted nearly 25 years ago, but it was renamed Hagerty Drivers Club Magazine in 2020 and it's part of member benefits. It's also available as a stand-alone subscription.

    Published six times per year, the country's largest automotive publication has a lifestyle slant. It's largely absent of engine performance nuances, gear ratio analyses and other automotive complexities.

    Columnists include renowned collector and entertainer Jay Leno and Wayne Carini, the car restorer and television personality whose prominence arrived with the 2008 debut of the documentary series "Chasing Classic Cars."

    Warnes' responsibilities encompass marketing the Hagerty brand. The company's approach is far removed from heavy-handedness.

    "We are not trying to hit people over the head with direct marketing or product all the time," she said. "I think that really great brands can create really compelling content that people enjoy seeing and that bring a smile to their face, that puts a tear in their eyes and that sort of connects with them on an emotional level."

    Recent article headlines provide ideal examples: "Tattoo artist’s ’56 Bel Air Sport Sedan is a rolling marquee," "This restored 1969 Ford Torino is staying in the family," and "Blind at 58, one man chose to keep loving life—and his classic Plymouth."

    Hagerty's year-long anniversary campaign includes a television commercial, broadcast on various networks, titled "Keepers of the Flame." It's "to signal to the automotive world that Hagerty has 'plenty left in the tank' for the next 40 years."

    What vehicles qualify is subjective.

    • 29 min
    #284, Volvo software chief talks new EV SUV, relationship with Nvidia

    #284, Volvo software chief talks new EV SUV, relationship with Nvidia

    It was just before the opening evening session of the recent 2024 Nvidia GTC conference at the San Jose Convention Center and it got quiet quickly.

    Alwin Bakkenes, Russell Datz, the carmaker's national media relations manager, Bruce Aldrich, the co-host of The Weekly Driver Podcast, and I all stepped in and closed our respective doors of the 2024 EX90 electric SUV perched in the corner of the expo hall.

    The 2024 all-electric Volvo EX90 sport utility vehicle was presented at the recent Nvidia GTC conference in San Jose, California.

    Volvo and Nvidia, the multinational corporation and technology company headquartered in Santa Clara, California, have had a business partnership since 2016. And with the conference an in-person gathering for the conference for the first time in five years, Volvo was among several manufacturers' representatives in attendance.

    Despite his software engineering expertise and his explanation, Bakkenes didn't need to apologize for his lack of speaking abilities. He's a skilled corporate spokesperson and he was our guest on episode #284 of the podcast Aldrich and I started in August 2017.

    "This particular car is the start of the new era for Volvo Cars," said Bakkenes. "It's born electric, it's born software-defined and it's very safe. What we have done is build the software architecture based on what we call our core technology which we built with Nvidia."

    What Bakennes means, and how the soon-to-be-available EX90 is different from the current Volvo lineup, is the subject of our podcast.

    Please join us as our guest explains how the new vehicle's powertrain, chassis systems, and the driver assistance features all operate on their own computers and what that means to consumers.

    • 18 min
    #283, Veteran WSJ reporters debut insiders’ look at Formula 1 failures, successes

    #283, Veteran WSJ reporters debut insiders’ look at Formula 1 failures, successes

    Jonathan Clegg and Joshua Robinson are colleagues in The Wall Street Journal's virtual sports department. Clegg, the sports editor, is an Englishman who lives with his family in New York. Robinson is an American based in London. They share global sporting interests, particularly soccer and motorsports.

    The duo's reporting expertise has led to a long collaboration away from daily journalism. They're now book co-authors for the third time. The most recent effort, published on March 12, is titled "The Formula: How Rogues, Geniuses, and Speed Freaks Reengineered F1 into the World's Fastest-Growing Sport.” (Mariner Books, 304 pages, ISBN: 9780063318625; $29.99).

    With co-host Bruce Aldrich on vacation, I interview the two writers on this episode of The Weekly Driver Podcast.

    The once-faltering circuit is now thriving. With its focus for many years at global venues, except North America, the elite motorsports circuit now has three events in the United States. It debuted in Las Vegas last November in the first year of a 10-year contract, joining U.S. stops in Austin and Miami.

    With events also in Canada and Mexico, five of the 24 races this year are scheduled in North America. The 11-month circuit began in late February in Bahrain, and it continues through December 6 in Abu Dhabi. The 20-car circuit will travel to 21 countries on five continents.

    "Both of us grew up in Europe with F1 during its first real peak in the late 80s and early 90s," said Robinson. "We both saw it as it fell away; people got bored. It just didn't have the same cultural relevance for about 15 years. That really changed in the last five or six years."

    The resurgence was substantially assisted by "Formula 1: Drive to Survive." The documentary series on Netflix debuted in 2019 as a behind-the-scenes look at drivers and races and money. The sixth season debuted in February.

    "We thought the time was right to kind of explain the rise, fall and reinvention of a sport," said Robinson.

    Clegg and Robinson also co-authored: "The Club: How the English Premier League Became the Richest, Wildest, Most Disruptive Force in Sports,” and "Messi vs. Ronaldo: One Rivalry, Two Goals, and the Era That Remade the World’s Game."

    "We spend a lot of time before we commit a single word to paper or a computer screen," said Clegg. "We spend a lot of time sort of thinking about the characters and episodes we want to include in the book and the narrative arc we are trying to unpack with the story we are telling.”

    What's detailed is compelling. The authors are veteran reporters, skilled scene-setters and writers who write succinctly about rich subject matter. The cars, teams, and staff require extreme budgets. Drivers are charismatic, fans fanatical, rivalries intense. Races are held in opulent locales among pretty and handsome faces and bling. The sport has emerged from corruption.

    Two additional major themes of the book: Red Bull and the energy drink’s billionaire Austrian owner, Dietrich Mateschitz, and Liberty Media, the American company. It purchased F1 in 2016 in a multi-billion-dollar deal.

    Mateschitz infiltrated the sport quickly and retains supremacy in Formula 1 unlike any other brand in sport, according to Clegg.

    Liberty Media drastically changed how the sport is presented. It rebranded the logo, modernized marketing and emphasized streaming broadcasts.

    For years lapped by the popularity of other motorsports, the authors present F1 as the "world's fastest-growing sport."

    "I think we realized pretty early on that the one through line that can be tr...

    • 37 min
    #282, 2024 Nvidia Conference With Danny Shapiro

    #282, 2024 Nvidia Conference With Danny Shapiro

    The autonomous vehicle industry has reduced its speed. Its future is here, but it's not quite as in focus as the next signpost. Even the most fervent believers have re-evaluated their enthusiasm for the human-free driving mode.

    What's ahead for autonomous driving and an array of other pending driving technology is among the many topics in many industries set for explanation, examination and speculation beginning March 18 during the four-day Nvidia GPU Technology Conference (GTC).

    Danny Shapiro, Nvidia's vice president of automotive, is our guest on this episode of The Weekly Driver Podcast. With Co-host Bruce Aldrich on vacation, James Raia interviews Shapiro about the pending conference.

    "The autonomous space is progressing very nicely," says Shapiro. "It's taken longer than we initially thought. "In fact, the entire industry underestimated the complexity of being able to safely navigate."

    Shapiro was also a guest on The Weekly Driver Podcast (Episode #123) in February 2020.

    The conference involves the advancing usages of Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) for accelerated computing and AI.

    The naming sponsor, Nvidia, is the Santa Clara-based multinational corporation that designs and supplies graphics for data science and high-performance computing. It's also the dominant global supplier of AI hardware and software.

    Founded in 1993, Nvidia took its name from invidia. It's the Latin word for envy, the ancient Greek Titan deity of hatred and jealousy. The company chose its name to symbolize its vision and innovation in the fields of graphics and computing.

    The quickly evolving automotive industry and its AI future will share the conference with similar advancing innovations in healthcare, accelerated computing and data science.

    Organizers note more than 900 talks, training sessions, workshops and panels and more than 300 exhibitors and demonstrations are scheduled.

    Any companies that are doing work in AI will have NVIDIA in their data center, in their workstations or their vehicles," Shapiro says. "We have hundreds of car companies and truck companies; robot taxi companies have our have our data platform in their vehicles."

    According to Shapiro, organizers anticipate 20,000 in-person attendees and several hundred thousand virtual attendees.

    In the automotive portion of the conference, Shapiro details AI's part in improved safety. Humans still have erratic behavior whether they are driving or pedestrians. Many companies, Shapiro notes, are integrating driver assistance platforms.

    "The owner of the vehicle, the person behind the wheel is the driver still responsible but artificial intelligence is making the road a lot safer,” Shapiro says. "It can alert them (the driver) and it can take over certain functions on the highway, lane-keeping, emergency braking, adaptive cruise control.

    "These are all very complicated software systems that are getting better and better. Now, there's the notion of a software-defined car or a vehicle that can get updates just like your phone. Vehicles are just getting smarter and smarter."

    • 27 min
    #281, Automotive legend: Ralph Teetor

    #281, Automotive legend: Ralph Teetor

    A strong argument could be made that Ralph Teetor is responsible for what is now called autonomous driving.

    Blind since he was a young boy, Teetor invented cruise control in the 1940s. It was one of more than 40 patents granted to a native of Indiana who died in 1982.

    Inventor Ralph Teetor.

    Teetor will be inducted posthumously into the National Inventors Hall of Fame on May 9 in Washington, D.C.

    Jack Teetor, the inventor's great-nephew, is our guest this week on The Weekly Driver Podcast.

    Co-hosts Bruce Aldrich and James Raia discuss with Teetor the family legacy and the fascinating life of his great-uncle.

    Teetor has spent many years making the documentary film “Blind Logic: The Ralph R. Teetor Story.” Screenings of the film are scheduled throughout the county in the coming months.

    As Teetor shares, his great-uncle was remembered primarily for his invention of cruise control. But his life was remarkable in many ways.

    In our interview, Teetor details the circumstances of his great uncle's blindness and well as how the disability didn't stop the inventor from achieving his goals.

    Please join us for an intriguing episode on Ralph R. Teetor and presented by Jack Teetor.

    For more information about Jack or Ralph Teetor, visit: www.blindlogicproductions.com.

    For more information about the National Inventors Hall of Fame, visit: https://www.invent.org

    • 32 min
    #280, Pivotal Debuts Helix Personal Flying Vehicle

    #280, Pivotal Debuts Helix Personal Flying Vehicle

    Ken Karklin, the CEO of Pivotal, has had a several-decade career in engineering, aircraft and robotics. He knows technology as license holder of multiple patents. His latest passion is the Helix.

    Highlighted at the recent Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas, the Helix is the only personal flying vehicle in production in the United States. Public sales began January 8.

    Ken Karklin is the CEO of Pivotal, the manufacturer of the Helix, the electric personal flying vehicle. Image © James Raia/2024.

    Karklin is our guest on this week's episode of The Weekly Driver Podcast. Co-hosts Bruce Aldrich and James Raia discuss with Karklin the new vehicle and his experiences flying the Helix. We examine the practical uses of the aircraft, the regulations of the ultralight and the specs of the 15-foot-long machine. It has vertical take-off and a forward-tilting design for flight mode.

    Weighing just 360 pounds, the Helix falls under the FAA Part 103 (Ultralight) classification, allowing flight without a pilot's license. The EV has dual wings housing eight motors and batteries and can fly for two hours at 62 miles per hour

    With deliveries scheduled to begin in June, the Helix base model is priced at $190,000. With extensive additional features like 4K cameras and flight-traffic control systems, the price increases to $260,000.

    Please join us for a look at the future of personal transportation.

    • 30 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
4 Ratings

4 Ratings

Indydogforme ,

Automotive talk that is fun.

I like these guys. What they say makes sense. Valuable insight into all things automotive. Interesting guests as well.

Eltomaja ,

The Weekly Driver

Easy to listen podcast about cars, trends and notables in the auto world. The two hosts have good knowledge and ask good questions.

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