Born and raised in Chicago’s northern suburbs, I grew up in a house in which reading was required: My mother demanded a book report from my sister and me each week during summer vacations. My father took me into Chicago’s LOOP regularly where I divided my time looking up at buildings, and looking around at the vehicles on the streets and art work on the walls of my favorite escape, The Art Institute of Chicago.
While I started university studies in architecture, a chance to live in Paris, France, for many months between my sophomore and (delayed) junior year, permanently shifted my focus to photography and journalism.
I graduated from University of Kansas with a BS in journalism and minors in art history and psychology.
I worked for two years at the Kansas City Star, then returned to my home town for nine years with the Chicago Sun-Times. My growing interest in automobiles and their engineering and design led me to Detroit’s AutoWeek magazine for more than a year, before returning to daily newspaper journalism at the Los Angeles Times. I remained at the times for 11 years and was involved in several projects that earned the paper the Pulitzer Prize.
While at the Times, I wrote and photographed my first book, American Muscle, in 1989. I fell in love with the process and its challenges. In 1995, after completing another seven books, I left the Times and became a full-time author.
In 2011, Pete Stout, editor of Excellence Magazine, asked me to become the magazine’s Historical Editor.
I live in Santa Barbara, California. When I am not traveling I serve as a docent on alternate weekends at the Mullin Automotive Museum, an extraordinary collection of French cars, in nearby Oxnard, California.