My affection for cars: Why I want to be an automotive journalist

I have been drooling over cars for as long as I have been able to drool. I owned hundreds of model cars when I was young and would spend hours building race tracks in my basement. When I was in elementary school, I drew a Super Street Magazine cover with a Toyota Supra on it for an art competition at school (it won). I spent hours playing Need For Speed Underground 2 and Midnight Club: DUB Edition Remix, two of my favorite video games of all time. Today, I annoy my friends and family by constantly talking about cars and pointing them out on the road. All I tweet about is cars — @choffmand — and I am attending the best journalism school in the country with one ambition in mind: to become an automotive journalist.

But why do cars engulf my entire life? Why am I studying journalism to write about cars of all things? Why do I like cars so much when the fastest car I’ve ever driven is a 5.7-liter V8 Dodge Charger R/T? I’m not an engineering student for a reason. I couldn’t build or design a car, but I do know how they work. I’ve never owned or driven an exciting car (yet). I can just jump start a car and change brake pads, rotors and tires because my dad taught me when I learned to drive. Whether it’s watching YouTube videos or talking to other car guys, I’m always striving to learn more about the things that I lust over. For years I’ve been asking my dad to get any car that we can work on, but haven’t been successful. I guess I’ll have to wait until I have money to buy my own.

The main reason I love cars is that, to me, they are an art form (people will try to argue that). Cars are a huge part of our world. They surround us. They aren’t just apparatuses that haul us from point A to point B. They are gorgeous, intricate, pieces of machinery, whether it’s a Toyota Prius (chuckle) or a Pagani Huayra — which, if any car should be compared to a work of art, it should be this one. Horacio Pagani is an artist, don’t argue with me. Anyways, cars are functional, moving works of art that originate from different parts of the world, all completely different with different purposes. Oh, and they sound cool, each one is engineered different, they have different engines — from flat-fours to W16s, some are engineered solely for speed, some are meant for offroad driving, some are made for fuel efficiency and daily driving, and overall — before I go on a rant — they are just damn awesome.

There’s my favorite, the badass American cars, which are becoming just insanely powerful these days. The land of the free and the home of the brave produces: the Dodge Challenger Demon, the 840-hp — production car — king of the drag strip, the new Mustangs and Camaros, that are becoming more ‘track-focused’ — for example: the Camaro ZL1 1LE with a carbon fiber rear wing helping to create 300 lbs of downforce at 150 mph — the new Ford GT, which has to be one of the sexiest cars on the market, and the new Hennessey Venom F5 that apparently does 300+ mph (if it has the tires). Can you tell that I like American cars? Across the Atlantic, there are the British automakers, McLaren my favorite (720S), the German automakers, Porsche my favorite (918 Spyder), the French automakers, Bugatti, of course, and don’t forget the Italians, including Mr. Pagani, who have made one of my favorite supercars of all time, the front engine V-12 Ferrari F12. And last, but certainly not least, the Asain automakers, with one of the greatest cars of all time, Godzilla (the Nissan GTR).

I’ve spent hours watching car videos on Youtube just drolling over the designs and sounds of all kinds of cars. This is the closest that I can get to being in the driver’s seat of my favorite cars. Thanks to the folks at Motor Trend, /Drive and Top Gear (only naming a few). My favorite movie is APEX: Story of the Hypercar, which I have seen at least 15 times now. I constantly go through phases of obsessing over different cars (right now I’m on a Porsche kick).  And If you asked me what my favorite car was, I’d say all of them.

I’ve been watching these videos as well as reading articles about cars for years. Dan Neil, who writes for the Wall Street Journal, is by far my favorite automotive writer. I’ve been learning how important it is to have your own unique voice in automotive writing from reading Dan’s work, as well as many others (mainly Car and Driver). I remember reading about the 2017 F-150 Raptor in a Car and Driver article written by Josh Jacquot. He wrote, “we even drove the big hoss down to Ohio once or twice, but nothing exciting ever happens there.” I laughed at this because, if you know me, you know that I don’t enjoy Ohio that much. It’s this kind of writing that makes it even more enjoyable to read about cars. It feels like someone — their personality — is actually trying to communicate with me through their writing. They are describing their experience with a car with me. I’m not just reading facts and statistics — which can be fun, sometimes. That’s the kind of writing that I want to do. I want to put the reader in the driver’s seat and tell them about my experience with cars by using my personality in my writing.

I love the creative process. I’ve been learning about writing, reporting, editing, graphic design, photography, and videography from the moment I could pick up a pencil. Like I said earlier, I’m attending the best journalism school in the world not to write about politics, sports, fashion, music, or food. I want to write and report about cars. It is my dream to combine all of the skills that I have learned with something that I have been passionate about my whole life, which, if you couldn’t guess, is cars.

Follow me on Twitter @choffmand if you want to bless your timeline with my thoughts and email me: cdhoffman@mail.missouri.edu if you have any questions or comments.

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