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184 posts categorized "Commentary"

January 20, 2014

Honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. Day #kingday2014

Lorraine_MotelA media ride and drive event in Memphis several years ago left me with some free time in the afternoon before heading to the airport to return home. My colleague and I were wondering how to pass a few hours, when he suggested we visit the Lorraine Motel, the assassination site of Martin Luther King, Jr. which now houses the National Civil Rights Museum. It was an eye-opening afternoon for me: I was raised in Hawthorne, California, in the 1970s, and grew up with the understanding that all us kids were the same -- even though I was a white girl and I was the minority among my own diverse peer group. 

More than 40 years ago, on April 4, 1968, the Lorraine Motel was a small minority-owned business in the south end of downtown Memphis. The motel's owner, Walter Lane Bailey preserved two rooms of his hotel as a shrine to Dr. King as well as to his wife, Lorraine, who died of a brain hemorrhage several hours after King was shot. Ultimately, the hotel closed down, and group of prominent Memphians, concerned that the historic site would be destroyed through neglect and indifference, formed the Martin Luther King Memorial Foundation to save the Lorraine.

Ap-MartinLutherKingsite With support from the City of Memphis, Shelby County, the State of Tennessee, as well as many local banks, businesses, and community members, the National Civil Rights Museum opened its doors to visitors on September 29, 1991, and now houses a 12,800-square-foot exhibit titled "Exploring the Legacy." It also connects to the Main Street Rooming House across the street where James Earl Ray allegedly fired the fatal shot resulting in the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Each year, the National Civil Rights Museum provides a memorial program on Martin Luther King, Jr. day, with an entire day of programs and activities to inspire new generations of leaders to service.  

On this day each year, I'm challenged to consider how this holiday is relevant to a woman's automotive site, and I'm reminded of what things were like for black people during the 1960s. I didn't live through the Civil Rights era, so my understanding of racisim and segregation is guided largely by what I learned in history classes, by what I experienced during the Los Angeles Riots of 1992, and by considering the moving exhibits at the museum.

Ap_boarding_house The civil rights laws of the 1960s were intended to prohibit race and gender discrimination in the handful of markets -- employment, housing, and public accommodations -- in which discrimination was perceived to be particularly acute. According to Thomas J. Sugure in his Case Study titled "Driving While Black: The Car and Race Relations in Modern America" I am reminded that issues of transportation were especially significant.

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December 13, 2013

AskPatty Takes a Look at “50 Shades of Gray” -- in Automotive Paint Shades!

2014 Audi Allroad in Monsoon Gray

In the “Fifty Shades of Grey,” book trilogy written by E L James, the number fifty describes Christian Grey, a man of many moods, talents, personalities, and vehicles (including jets and yachts).

With all the buzz in the media about the upcoming “Fifty Shades of Grey” movie adaptation, I thought it would be fun to list 25 shades of grays for 25 of my favorite cars. To be sure, most cars do look super sexy in certain shades of silver.

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December 11, 2013

At The Los Angeles Auto Show, Hyundai's Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle Is The Next Big Thing

2013_Los_Angeles_Auto_Show-BAS_6950-Hyundai_Tucson_hydrogen_fuel_cellThe Los Angeles Auto show was a buzz with “Green Automobiles,” the alternatives to the gasoline-powered internal combustion engines  (ICE) we are all so accustomed to driving. Seems to me that electric automobiles have been increasing in popularity for the last couple of years!

Manufacturers have made some great progress with plug-in electric automobiles: they’ve increased the distances the automobiles are able to go on a single charge, and there are more charging station outlets available for electric car drivers to use.  Fisker and Tesla  have also made sure that frumpy style is no longer an issue. Automakers have even made great strides to reduce cost and make the electric automobile much more affordable and appealing to mainstream public. However much to my surprise electric automobile reveals were not the only big thing at the Auto show this year: it was actually the hydrogen fuel cell automobile presented by Hyundai stealing the “green” show…

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August 26, 2013

Erin Evernham asks, “What Would they Say, If These Cars Could Talk?”

Female-race-car-driver-erin-evernhamBy Erin Evernham

Having spent most of my life around race cars and collector cars, I often wonder about the stories behind each car. Yeah I know they are inanimate objects but I still like to use my imagination now and again... or maybe I just watched movies like “Cars” and “Christine” one too many times.

Old-race-carTake an old race car for instance... Wouldn’t it be neat to hear the stories about when it was in its heyday?  About the characters who drove the car, about its “injuries and burns,” about its “surgeries,” about its arch rivalries on the track, about getting soaked in champagne in Victory Lane, about the day its owner moved on to a newer and younger model… And what about the rest of the story? Did it end up getting refurbished and reincarnated for a museum or did it head to the graveyard like most? Or even worse: did it end up in the crusher?

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August 23, 2013

"Naked Paddock" Book Review: Drawing from life as a race car driver's wife

Naked-Paddock-Book-CoverArt mimics life in Kristin (MK) Ducote’s newly released book "Naked Paddock." In this novel Ducote’s main character and the events surrounding the lead's life are very similar to what Ducote herself has experienced. Throughout "Naked Paddock" there are many ‘true tales’ regarding a woman’s insights (and juicy behind-the-scenes drama) that occur within the fast and flashy world of motorsports, and nobody can tell it better than the wife of Le Mans driver Chapman Ducote.

Although Kristin Ducote grew up riding horses on a little farm in Florida, her humble (and very grounded) childhood and later adulthood helped to train and prepare her to be the amazingly successful 30-year-old she is today.

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April 05, 2013

Breaking News: Fisker Fights for its Future

Henrik-FiskerIt was a bad sign recently when Henrik Fisker, co-founder and executive chairman of Fisker Automotive, stepped down from the company that bears his name. Reported to be the result of "disagreements with management," Fisker's resignation was “not expected to impact the company’s pursuit of strategic partnerships and financing to support Fisker Automotive’s continued progress.”

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March 18, 2013

Toyota's Great Give-Away: 100 Cars for Charity

Noted. Facebook works for everything from keeping up with friends, keeping track of trends, to learning about great deals on cowboy boots.

Facebook also works for philanthropic outreach. Toyota’s 100 Cars for Good, a Facebook initiative, launched in 2011 and repeated in 2012, awarded 100 cars to 100 nonprofits over the period of 100 days to charitable organizations. In 2012, you helped Toyota give 100 vehicles to nonprofits. Daily winners were determined by popular vote on Now those vehicles are on the road and helping those in need.

Toyota is currently in discussions about how to repeat the plan for 2013. A representative from Toyota just this week explained that "the program will be placed on hold until further notice due to internal changes.  We're pleased that the program has helped many organizations and will continue to build on the program’s success while supporting nonprofit organizations.



Five nonprofits were profiled each day at Facebook users voted for the cause they feel would do the most good with a new vehicle. At the end of each day, the winner received a new vehicle and the four runners-up will receive a $1,000 cash grant from Toyota.

“The average person doesn’t think about a non-profit needing a vehicle to get its work done,” remarked Michael Rouse, Vice President of Diversity, Philanthropy and Community Affairs for Toyota Motor Sales USA.

Rouse explained that the idea for 100 Cars for Good – a Facebook site for voting–was the result of a brainstorming meeting at the end of 2010. “We looked at what was going on in social media with non-profits and realized that, while we didn’t have a dollar budget to contribute, we do have cars and trucks. This program puts our products as the star of the show to help keep non-profits going.”

“Over the past 20 years, Toyota has contributed more than half a billion dollars to non-profits throughout the United States. 100 Cars for Good allows us to build on that commitment in new ways, putting the public in the ‘driver’s seat’ as we work to help community organizations make an even bigger impact,” offered Jim Lentz, President and Chief Executive Officer of Toyota Motor Sales.


In the past, local causes included Central Vermont Humane Society, A Child’s Place of Charlotte (helps local homeless children with school work, socialization and more), All Hands Volunteers (aids communities struck by natural disasters), Special Olympics Illinois, and Abby’s House (provides women and children across Central Massachusetts with shelter, housing and advocacy).
“In year one, when we announced that we were giving away 100 cars, perhaps people didn’t realize it was the real deal. Now everybody knows that it’s a legitimate program,” explained Rouse.

To learn more visit:
 You can also see a short film at:

January 11, 2013

My Shades of Grey Moment: The Aston Martin Vanquish 2014

004-aston-martin-vanquishThis story began at a New Orleans race track. I was test driving the 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish with my own driving instructor.

I could bore you with superlatives or say, very honestly, that after many years of trying out vehicles on racetracks, this time I got it! The exhilarating feel of driving at speed, the sound of the engine, the smell of the leather, the way the Vanquish catches light when it is in motion. Yes, I finally understood the lure of the racetrack and the draw of the Aston Martin. And yes --(ladies you will understand) ---it was a ‘shades of grey’ moment!

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October 19, 2012

World's Cheapest Car: The Tata Nano is Coming to the US

Tata NanoThe next big name in automobiles may not be an American, or Japanese, or even German or Italian: Believe it or not, India is poised to change the face of the US Auto Industry with the introduction of the Tata Nano to the US Market.

For those who don't know, the Nano is an adorable, no-frills, egg-shaped four seater car introduced in India in 2009 as an alternative to scooters and other super-efficient means of transportation.  It's known as the "World's Cheapest Car," and to say that it's bare-bones is an understatement:  it boasts a 4-gallon tank, a top speed of 65mph, about 3 cubic feet of storage space, and its major advertised features include "headrests" and an interior fuel warning light.  But with simple features comes a simple price tag.  In 2009 it was introduced with an unbelievable price of $2500.

The rest of the world is definitely taking notice of the little Nano that could - I learned about this adorable car from Live with Kelly & Michael, and have since learned that auto aficionado Jay Leno has already snagged one of the Indian models for his car collection.

The Nano will certainly undergo a bit of a redesign before it hits the US market, and those vital statistics seem certain to improve.  Also being added are power steering, traction control, and some other bells and whistles missing from the base model in India - AC and Heating come to mind.  All these improvements will raise the price a bit, of course, but the plan is for the Nano to hit the US market in 2013 with a price of about $8000.  That would make it the cheapest car on the market, and if it's done right, it could change the face of the industry.

The Nano is being redesigned for the European market as well.  I think they're adorable, and moreover, I think the US is ready for a new wave of super-economical automobiles.  India isn't the first nation to be experimenting with this concept - China boasts super-affordable cars with some pretty cool features, and in Japan, Nissan is reintroducing the Datsun brand, as a line of low-cost autos poised to retail for around $3000 in Asia.  I'm watching these sagas, and the Nano's, very closely, so keep an eye here for updates.

Have a great weekend, and TTFN:  tata for nano!  (I couldn't resist.)

Kaeli Gardner

October 16, 2012

Driving a Bentley is more like flying on the wings of its logo

Bentley wing logo2When I was invited to my very first Bentley event I was ecstatic to learn more about the car model which costs more than most people’s homes, (including my own).  When I stepped into the Bentley of Austin’s showroom which resembles that of an art gallery as opposed to a car dealership, I was taken aback by the beauty of the vehicles I was surrounded by.  “These cars are a work of art because they are built by artists,” John Eagle European Motors and Bentley of Austin’s Dealer Principal, T.L. ‘Sonny’ Morgan said.

The main vehicle we were invited to the boutique dealership to preview and drive was the 2013 Continental GT V8 which is equipped with a 4.0L twin turbo with variable displacement which has the capabilities to switch (unnoticeably) from a V8 to a more efficient V4. “The Continental GT V8 combines the power and performance of a sports car with the efficiency of a grand tourer,” said a recent Bentley press release.

On-hand for the reveal of this and a few other 2013 Bentley models was President and COO of Bentley Motors, Christophe Georges.  Georges shared a little history mixed with what to expect of the models we would soon be test driving.  “Bentley’s are about passion,” Georges said.  “The company was created in 1919 and our vehicles have always featured the best combination of luxury, refinement, and craftsmanship.” 

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