100 episodes

THE WEEKLY DRIVER PODCAST IS AN EXTENSION OF THEWEEKLYDRIVER.COM, ONLINE SINCE 2004

THE WEEKLY DRIVER James Raia and Bruce Aldrich

    • Automotive
    • 4.5, 2 Ratings

THE WEEKLY DRIVER PODCAST IS AN EXTENSION OF THEWEEKLYDRIVER.COM, ONLINE SINCE 2004

    New drink honors iconic Laguna Seca turn 8

    New drink honors iconic Laguna Seca turn 8

     



    (At the top of this post is an encore presentation of our recent podcast with Barry Toepke, the marketing and communications director at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Several changes for the 2020 season were announced after the orginal podcast brodcast April 14, 2020.)



    Like all businesses, WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca has altered its plans several times this year as the COVID-19 pandemic situation remains ever-evolving.



    When the multi-disciple racing season finally begins this summer, visitors to the Monterey Peninsula may wish to taste a new cocktail, created to celebrate the delayed-but still-scheduled season.



    The Corkscrew Paradise is a new drink created to celebrate the iconic corkscrew turn 8 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.



    To commemorative the start of the unique season, Estéban restaurant in downtown Monterey has created the Corkscrew Paradise. It celebrates the iconic corkscrew turn 8 on the raceway.

    Cheers: Laguna Seca honored by drink

    The cocktail pairs El Jefe Tequila with ginger ale and raspberry puree. El Jefe is distilled in Jalisco, Mexico at Casa Maestri from 100 percent Blue Weber Agave. The goal of El Jefe is to strike the perfect balance of quality tequila made by traditional methods that will appeal to the American palate.



    The Corkscrew Paradise will on the Estéban cocktail menu from June through December, in honor of our extended racing season.



    The 2020 premier event schedule: the Monterey Motorsports Pre-Reunion August 7-9, Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion August 13-16, the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship featuring the Hyundai Monterey Sports Car Championship September 4-6, and the NTT IndyCar Series featuring the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey Doubleheader September 18-20, the Ferrari Challenge September 24-27, the GEICO Motorcycle MotoAmerica Superbike Speedfest at Monterey October 23-25, and the Trans Am SpeedFest December 1-3.



    The 2020 Season Pass offers savings on admission to all six premier events on the schedule.



    Here's the Corkscrew Paradise official recipe:



    • 2 oz El Jefe Reposado Tequila

    • 1.5 oz Fever Tree Smoky Ginger Ale

    • 0.5 oz House-Made Raspberry purée



    Pour tequila and ginger ale over ice in an 11 oz rocks glass, top with purée and stir. Garnish with a lime wheel and fresh raspberries.



    For information about VIP hospitality packages, multi-day and individual day tickets, and preferred parking, visit: www. WeatherTechRaceway.com or by calling 831-242-8200.



     

    • 34 min
    #135, Buying a new car like it’s 2019

    #135, Buying a new car like it’s 2019

    If you're interested in purchasing a vehicle, why not considering buying a new car that's nearly two years old?



    There's a huge inventory of 2019 vehicles available, particularly for consumers interested in Dodge.



    Here's the deal. The covid-19 pandemic stalled production of 2020 models for carmakers and resulted in the temporary closing of many car dealerships. Sales suffered.



    The 2019 Dodge Caravan is available for sale as a new car despite being nearly two years old.



    But a positive emerged from the health crisis, and Julie Blackley, an analyst at iseecars.com, is our guest on this week's episode of The Weekly Driver Podcast to discuss the issue.

    Dodge Caravan: New Car, Nearly Age 2

    Co-hosts Bruce Aldrich and James Raia talk with Blackley and she details the reasons why such large inventories of 2019 vehicles are available from different manufacturers.



    According to iSeeCars.com, the online automotive search engine and research website based in Woburn, Mass., there’s a 10.8 percent industry average of new 2019 vehicles still in inventory.



    Surprisingly, some models, dubiously led by the Dodge Grand Caravan, have six times the national average of 2019 vehicles still in inventory. The top-20 vehicles on the list all have at least 20 percent of 2019 inventory available. Of course, not all of the list's vehicles are available in every state.



    iSeeCars.com analyzed its national inventory of more than 1 million new cars for sale to determine which models have more inventory from the 2019 model year available.



    “These cars provide opportunities for buyers to get a good deal on a new vehicle and are likely to come with generous incentives,” the website’s analysts wrote.



    “A surplus of vehicles from the 2019 model year might remain on dealer lots because a car’s popularity is declining because car buyers want to wait for an upcoming redesign, or because dealers simply have too much inventory,” said Phong Ly, the iSeeCars.com CEO.



    “More significant deals may be found on its remaining 2019 inventory, so consumers must examine their options for both model years and understand their negotiating power on 2019 vehicles.”



    Three additional Dodge models made the list including the third-ranked Dodge Journey, 11th-ranked Dodge Challenger and 18th-ranked Dodge Charger.



    “Discontinued after 2020, the Dodge Journey is limiting its trim and engine options for its final year, and is only advertising deals on its new 2019 models which include up to $5,000 off MSRP,” said Ly.



    “Meanwhile, the Dodge Charger saw record sales in 2019, but buyers may be opting for 2020 versions that have wider wheelbases including the SRT Hellcat and Scat Pack models.”



    The 2020 Dodge Grand Caravan is not available in 13 states due to emissions regulations, so dealers in those states are only selling new vehicles from the 2019 model year.



    Current offers on a 2019 Grand Caravan include $4,250 cash allowance and 0.9 percent APR financing for 84 months.



    Generous incentives are being offered on 2020 Charger and Challenger models including zero-percent financing and between $3,050 to $7,970 cashback.



    Similar to the Journey, another discontinued American car made the list: the Chevrolet Impala.



    “Although a reliable and highly-rated car, the discontinuation of the Impala shows that the large sedan isn’t in high demand,” said Ly.



    By segment, minivans, led by the Dodge Grand Caravan, have the largest available inventory, 66. 3 percent. Compact luxury SUVs have the least available inventory, 14.3 percent.

    • 27 min
    #134, Vermont artist Chris Miller’s stone truck

    #134, Vermont artist Chris Miller’s stone truck

    Chris Miller, a sculptor who lives Maples Corner, a hamlet outside Calais, Vermont, began carving about 45 years ago. He works in granite, wood and marble, and his work is featured in private collections and sculpture galleries. It all gets its share of acclaim, including one of his most unique creations — a stone truck.



    Miller's truck sculpture was inspired by a stone creation of a Volkswagen Beetle built in Ithaca, New York in 1976. It's also an homage to an automotive phenomenon.



    Chris Miller, a sculptor and stonemason in Vermont, created a stone truck in 2012.



    As our guest on this episode of The Weekly Driver Podcast, Miller discusses driving in the rural Northeast where abandon vehicles are sighted often. Sometimes they share nature with overgrown weeds. Sometimes, the vehicles carry a beautiful patina, complemented by wildflowers.

    A small town, a big stone truck

    Podcast co-hosts Bruce Aldrich and James Raia talk with Miller about his long art career, particularly the process of creating his stone vintage truck built in 2012. It was created in five weeks after Miller launched a Kickstarter campaign with a goal of $2,500. He received $3,200 from 85 backers. The truck attracts visitors from several states.



     







    According to his bio on www.chrimillerstudio.com, Miller is primarily self-taught, although he studied art in college. He also studied anatomy and sculpture with the late Lothar Werslin of Sandgate Vt., and drawing and anatomy under Billy Brauer of Warren Vt. He's collaborated with several stone sculptors in nearby Barre Vt.



    There's a lot involved in making a true-to-size stone truck. Miller's piece included 8 loads of quarry stone, 2 pallets of bluestone, a marble tailgate and big chunks of granite. The truck weighs about 40 thousand pounds.



    A vintage truck showcased in rural Georgia. Image courtesy of Chris Miller/www.chrismillerstudio.com.



    While continuing our series of podcasts from Bruce's backyard in Sacramento during the coronavirus, we reached Miller in rural Tennessee. He was touring several states, including a visit with a client for another stone vehicle.



    Miller said his trip was also to cultivate inspiration for additional artworks. He forwarded the image of a truck he observed in Georgia.



    Please join us as Miller shares his world as a sculptor and stonemason.



    The Weekly Driver Podcast encourages and appreciates feedback from our listeners. Please forward episode links to family, friends and colleagues. And you are welcome to repost links from the podcast to your social media accounts.

    Support our podcast by shopping on Amazon.com.



    Please send comments and suggestions for new episodes to James Raia via email: james@jamesraia.com.



    All podcast episodes are archived on www.theweeklydriver.com/podcast

    Every episode is also available on your preferred podcast platform:



    Google Play

    iTunes

    Spotify

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    • 33 min
    #133, AACA Museum adapts, goes virtual during Covid-19

    #133, AACA Museum adapts, goes virtual during Covid-19

    Museums have impossible business models during the coronavirus. But in the business of celebrating history, creativity reigns. When public visits aren't feasible, creativity prevails.



    Like many museums, automobile museums can virtually present their exhibits. Car enthusiasts and history buffs can still enjoy the legacies of vintage vehicles.



     



    The AACA Museum of Hersey (Pennsylvania) offers virtual tours and videos during the coronavirus.



    Jeff Bliemeister, executive director of the AACA Museum in Hersey, Pennsylvania, is our guest this week on The Weekly Driver Podcast.

    AACA Museum features Tucker

    Co-hosts Bruce Aldrich and James Raia discuss with Bliemeister how the facility, one of the country's most prominent auto museums, maintains its online videos, tours and special exhibits without allowing physical visitors.



    Bliemeister, an avid vintage car and truck enthusiast, explains in a series of videos the exhibits featured the 71,000-square foot facility that opened in 2003. We've included Part 1 of 3 celebrating Tucker, with Bliemeister as the commentator.







    Close to the Hersey's Chocolate World, the vehicle collectors' nirvana is self-described as "Offering noteworthy exhibits and an ever-growing permanent collection and welcoming guests of all ages to enjoy the wonders of invention, interactive educational displays, famous and one-of-a-kind vehicles, and family fun."



    In addition to a half-dozen permanent exhibits, the facility has numerous classes, including learning how to drive a Ford Model-T.



    While the various galleries cover a wide range of automotive eras, the AACA is widely heralded for its designated as having the world's largest collection of Tucker Automobiles and memorabilia. It's officially called the Cammack Tucker Collection and is named after Tucker historian and collector David Cammack.



    A focus on the 1940s wouldn't be complete with a detailed examination of Preston Tucker and his innovative vehicles. The display is an interactive exhibit chronicling Tucker’s vision, determination, and struggles to build the “Car of Tomorrow.” The Tucker history is presented on the AACA website in a three-part virtual tour.



    The AACA Museum, which also houses the Museum of Bus Transportation Collection, sponsors workshops and activities designed to raise public awareness and appreciation of the role the automobile has played in shaping 20th century America.



    A popular exhibit started in the spring of 2020 is The “Age of Aquarius.”



    According to the museum, the exhibition "harkens back to the era of tie-dye and muscle cars. Times were changing. So were the vehicles manufactured and marketed from 1967 (the release of the Broadway musical Hair) through the mid-1970s. The 'flower power' generation manifested itself vividly in the bold cars produced in Detroit and beyond."



    Another recent exhibit in the museum's Williams-Clyne Gallery features DeSoto. The display, guest curated by the Colonial Chapter of the National DeSoto Club, features vintage vehicles, along with an array of DeSoto dealer promotional material, magazine advertisements, and memorabilia.



    From the beginning



    Chrysler Corporation introduced the DeSoto brand in 1928 to fill the more upscale role in Chrysler’s offerings. Wanting the car to be perceived as strong and exotic, Walter Chrysler named the division after the famed Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto.



    Additional displays include elaborate collections of horn buttons, 5000 model busses and a display of Pennsylvania law enforcement vehicles. Classes for students of all ages are offered. Volunteer opportunities and membership are also available.

    • 24 min
    #132, ValChoice goal: insurance trust

    #132, ValChoice goal: insurance trust

    Dan Karr, CEO ValChoice.com, began his insurance analysis company in early 2016 in the aftermath of a near tragedy.



    A former Silicon Valley executive and avid cyclist, Karr suffered a near-fatal accident with a motorist in 2014 and endured a long legal battle with insurance companies.



    Dan Karr is CEO of ValChoice.com, an insurance company analytics company.



    Karr eventually won his case and recouped his financial losses. But the frustration of what he thought was a relationship with good insurance providers prompted the publication of his book, "Injured Money."

    Independent Insurance Transparency

    The enduring scenario further resulted in his current company. Its motto: Independent. Unbiased. Trusted.



    Karr is our guest on this week's episode of The Weekly Driver Podcast. Co-hosts Bruce Aldrich and James Raia talk with our guest about the mission of ValChoice.com.



    " I vowed to fix this problem," Karr writes on the bio page of his company's website.  "I vowed to apply my technology background to make sure no other family ever experience the same thing my family went through."



    The analytics company's goal is insurance company transparency in its automotive and home insurance. It rates companies on customer service, claims payment records and price.



    As Karr explains, the data used is compiled from a comprehensive list of companies, large and small.



    We also discuss with Karr how the insurance industry and its customers are conducting business during the coronavirus pandemic.



    According to a report in the San Jose Mercury, Karr's company was compared by Forbes as "something akin to Carfax vehicle background reports."



    The Weekly Driver Podcast encourages and appreciates feedback from our listeners. Please forward episode links to family, friends and colleagues. And you are welcome to repost links from the podcast to your social media accounts.



    Support our podcast by shopping on Amazon.com.



    Please send comments and suggestions for new episodes to James Raia via email: james@jamesraia.com.

    All podcast episodes are archived on www.theweeklydriver.com/podcast



    Every episode is also available on your preferred podcast platform:



    Google Play

    iTunes

    Spotify

    Stitcher

    iheartradio

    • 28 min
    #131, Greg Griffin races a Ferrari, builds Florida homes

    #131, Greg Griffin races a Ferrari, builds Florida homes

    Greg Griffin is likely the only race car driver whose heritage features an Italian grandfather who owned 18 Ferraris including one used as a farm tractor by famed artist Andrew Wyatt.



    The owner and president of Griffin Builders in Naples, Florida, Griffin has been a custom home builder for nearly 20 years. But he's been around the supercars for as long as he can remember.



    Greg Griffin of Naples, Florida, races a Ferrari 458 and builds custom homes.



    Co-hosts Bruce Aldrich and James Raia interview Griffin in Episode #131 of The Weekly Driver Podcast.

    Greg Griffin: A family full of Ferrari

    After a two-week hiatus during the early stages of the coronavirus, Bruce and I resumed our weekly podcast with practicing social distancing from the backyard of the home Bruce share with his wife and Doberman Pinscher , Indy.



    Griffin discusses growing up Ferraris and he discusses how his passion for the vehicles began. He also talks about the intricacies of driving, his dislike of iRacing and several other topics.



    "Ferraris in the 1970s weren't nice cars, they were like little Fiats," recalls Griffin, 51. "My grandfather thought they were nice cars but they weren't as expensive as they are today. He bought one from Wyatt. He was using it on his farm because of its powerful engine."



    Griffin grew up cleaning the family collection and helping with maintenance. He remembers people saying how fast Ferraris were but he wondered why no one was taking them on tracks. Eventually, Griffin did. It’s his passion and a metaphor for his life.



    "Enzo Ferrari (the founder of Ferrari) always said, 'The cars are better than the drivers. The drivers need to learn to drive these cars,' " Griffin says. "So I became fascinated with improving myself as a driver and trying to live up to the performance of the car.



    "When you take a Ferrari on a track, it's just a different animal. It's just a different experience. You have no idea a car you go stoplight to spotlight to pick up groceries with is such as capable machine on the track. I need to improve my driving skills and that what I set put to do."



    Griffin has been "tracking" since the mid-1990s and started competitive racing 15 years ago. He owns a Ferrari 458 Challenge. Like others, his interest piqued in the mid-1980s when the television show Miami Vice debuted. The co-lead detective played by Don Johnson drove a black 1972 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona.



    "I am a pretty hardcore amateur," Griffin says. "We do really good amateur racing but on a budget."



    Although motorsports schedules have changed with the coronavirus pandemic, Griffin has several competitions planned later this year, including the Classic 24-Hour at Daytona International Speedway in November and 12-Hour Classic at Sebring International Raceway in December.



    "One thing they quickly teach you is to look where you are going, not where you don't want to go. If you are going around a corner and you're looking at the wall, you are going to hit the wall. You always look where you want to go."



    "I know it's a silly thing, but a lot of racing analogies go hand-in-hand with life. It's a little sentimental, but it's true. Life is racing. It really is. It's the same thing. I like the challenge."



    The Weekly Driver Podcast encourages and appreciates feedback from our listeners. Please forward episode links to family, friends and colleagues. And you are welcome to repost links from the podcast to your social media accounts.



    Support our podcast by shopping on Amazon.com.

    • 28 min

Customer Reviews

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Automotive talk that is fun.

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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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