This morning I opened my eyes and realized that yes, I had made it to LA the night before at 3am ET after an arduous flight from The Cape Fear of Wilmington, NC. Mechanical issues with the plane I was transferring onto in Dallas resulted in me sitting at an airport bar way too long; draining my wallet and filling up my belly with craft beers.
It was 7am and my phone was ringing; the name on the screen: David Tracy. “Stephen Walter Gossin! Are you here and are you alive?!” was what I heard while not-yet half-awake. After affirming that I was alive, in LA and now awake, I told David that I didn’t have any food allergies and that I was jazzed to FINALLY meet him later in the day.
Yes, that’s correct: I have been friends with and working with DT for 3 years now, yet we had yet to meet in person. The last time he and Jason were in my neighborhood, I had sadly missed their email and missed out on a face-to-face. I also hadn’t met Thomas, Mercedes, Matt and the rest of the team, since we’re all strewn about various states/countries. Well that all ends this week!
After a quick shower I realized that it was time to go downstairs in our rented AirBnB to meet my roommates for the week. Sitting on the couch with a laptop open in front of him was one of the most knowledgeable (I mean savant-level) writers in this profession: Thomas Hundal. A warm Canadian smile, a fist bump and the conveyance of how great it was to finally meet was mutually expressed. His immediate kindness rivals his writing ability and encyclopedic knowledge.
“SWG!” was then heard from behind me, voiced by a gravelly-toned tenor that I’ve heard for years. Jason Torchinsky, one of my favorite auto writers, one whom I read and followed religiously, was sitting at the kitchen table, in pajamas, drinking coffee [Editor’s Note: I was in a t-shirt and underpants, which I think I’d hesitate to call “pajamas.” Also, it was tea. – JT] and writing Cold Start. For someone like me, this was the type of experience that gives credence to the phrase “You should definitely meet your heroes, because they’re just as awesome as you expect them to be, especially in their PJs” .
Next, in walks a much-taller-than-you’d-expect Matt Hardigree, with breakfast coffees, sandwiches and a big hug. This is the same Matt Hardigree whose fans have approached me in the past, asking what working with him was like. And here he was handing me a breakfast burrito.
I’d only been here for a few hours and awake for much less than that and this was the best possible start to the LA Auto Show.
[Editor’s Note: Aw, what a peach. – JT]
Matt informed us that David had left us his Nissan Leaf with 25 miles of range on it to get around. Was this schadenfreude by David on purpose to get us to write about our transportation challenges going to and leaving from the Auto Show? It’s very possible. We grabbed some Autopian t-shirts, piled in and headed to the Galpin Hall of Customs area in the LA Convention Center (which houses the Autopian booth).
[Editor’s Note: My hair is wet. It normally looks bad, but not that bad. – JT]
With Thomas navigating (he’s a Torontonian; have you ever made your way around LA with a Canadian navigator?) and Matt and Jason in the back, we made it with about 18 miles left of range and plugged it into a rando 110V outlet we found in the Convention Center parking garage.
Once inside, I immediately found myself standing next to The Batmobile (the actual one from the Adam West show), Beau’s completely wicked collection of truly outstanding cars, The Kevin Hart Kollection, the cars from The Fast & Furious films and Daisy. In fact, I’m actually sitting next to Daisy (the last Cobra, ever), while writing this. Saying my usual statements of immense appreciation such as “wicked badass” or such doesn’t really touch on how cool this is.
David is actually on a mission in Malibu this afternoon and Mercedes arrives in a couple hours. Meeting the two of them this evening is something I’m really looking forward to. That just leaves meeting Adrian, The Bishop, Lewin Day, Laurence Rogers, Huibert, Mark Tucker, Social Media Pete, Rob Spiteri, Steven Balistreri, and Therese and I’ll finally have Autopian Team bingo.
You may see me in a few social media Reels covering the cars of the show, asking questions on the Podcast, serving as Security detail for Jason, and serving shrimp and drinks at the Autopian Happy Hour (I used to bartend in Wilmington after college – going to dust off some cobwebs and see if I still have it). This is about as cool as it gets.
I don’t think I’m going to be able to leave when the time comes.