Peter Egan (columnist)
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Peter Egan is an American writer known for his monthly columns, Side Glances in Road & Track magazine and Leanings in Cycle World magazine, as well as road tests and occasional features in both magazines. His columns are chiefly autobiographical and anecdotal in nature, typically cheerful, self-deprecating and sometimes displaying an ironic or dark sense of humor. He has written extensively about his many road trips, including detailed accounts of the failings of the vehicles and his interactions with the people who accompany him and those he meets. He was described in a 2010 New York Times book review as one of America's "standout auto writers."
Egan was born in Elroy, Wisconsin in 1948. He first became acquainted with sports cars from photographs of celebrities and their cars in his sister Barbara's glamour magazines. He would later watch sports car racing at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
When he dropped out of college, Egan was drafted into the US Army, entering basic training in March 1969, and eventually serving in Vietnam. Characteristically, he later described a Jeep he had that the Viet Cong hit with a mortar shell as "the only non-English vehicle I ever drove that exploded." After his tour of duty, he visited Paris, France, from which he and a friend road-tripped on bicycles to Marseille.
Upon his return to Wisconsin, Egan proposed to his girlfriend Barbara and started working as a mechanic at Foreign Car Specialists, a repair shop in Madison owned by Chris Beebe, who is frequently mentioned in Side Glances and is now a neighbor and close friend.
Motor journalism career
In the early 1980s, Egan wrote a freelance article about a motorcycling trip with his wife, which he submitted to Cycle World. When the article was published, editor Allan Girdler offered him a position as a staff writer. Egan accepted and he and Barb relocated to southern California.
While writing for Cycle World, Egan also wrote for the automotive magazine Road & Track, part of the same organization, and had its headquarters in the same building in Newport Beach. His writing style fit well with, and may have been influenced by, those of his contemporaries at Road & Track, including Henry N. Manney III, Rob Walker, Innes Ireland, and Dennis Simanaitis.
Apart from writing road tests and reports on motor races and car shows, Egan wrote about the perils and pitfalls of repairs, restoration, and racing, illustrating his points with first-hand anecdotes. His experience of working on and his love for English cars has led him to exaggerate their faults and idiosyncrasies, though he makes it clear he prefers to work on and drive them. He has also expressed a particular interest in old English and Italian motorcycles.
Egan has since retired from the regular staff of both magazines, although he still contributes monthly columns to both and also writes features as an Editor-at-Large. Egan and his wife returned to Wisconsin in the summer of 1990, moving to a farm near Cooksville where they still live.
Egan won both the 2008 Motor Press Guild Dean Batchelor Award for Excellence in Automotive Journalism, and the 2008 International Motor Press Association Ken Purdy Award for an article published in April and May editions of Road & Track. He was a finalist for the Dean Batchelor Award again in 2012.
Peter Egan has documented several road trips, mostly in North America. These trips include:
- riding a '64 Honda C100 from Madison, WI to Pikes Peak State Park, IA and back. In his book Leanings, Egan said of the 1978 303-mile trip, "In 15 years of riding and touring on all kinds of bikes, this was my favorite trip. It was a microcosm tour, measured in time rather than distance."
- riding a bicycle from Paris to Marseilles in the early 1970s
- driving with Chris Beebe from Wisconsin to Los Angeles in a Ford Model A, after he and Beebe restored the car ("Model A Odyssey, Parts I and II")
- several trips from Wisconsin to the SCCA Runoffs at Road Atlanta and back
- driving a BMW Isetta from Wisconsin to Memphis, Tennessee, after realizing that he would not be able to make it to Road Atlanta in time for the Runoffs
- driving a Caterham 7 with his wife around New England
- driving a Jaguar E-Type with his wife as far north as the map indicated the existence of pavement
- driving a Mini in a rally across Texas
- driving a '63 Cadillac down into the Mississippi Delta Blues Country
- CHARLES McEWEN, LINDSAY BROOKE, ROB SASS, CLIFFORD GHETTI, FRED HEILER, BOB AUSTIN and JERRY GARRETT (December 10, 2010), "The Weather Is Perfect for Driving an Armchair (book review)", The New York Times, retrieved 2014-03-09,
Most of the pieces are highly engaging, insightful and often witty, as might be expected from the standout auto writers included here. The list is impressive — Ken Purdy, Tom McCahill, David E. Davis Jr., Brock Yates, Patrick Bedard, Peter Egan, Jean Lindamood Jennings, Jeremy Clarkson and L. J. K. Setright, among others.
- Egan, Peter (July 1994). "Side Glances: The olive not-so-drab Dodge Charger". Road & Track. Vol. 45 no. 11. Hachette Filipacci Magazines. pp. 36–39.
- Egan, Peter (December 1990). "Side Glances: Garages of Ill Repute". Road & Track. Vol. 42 no. 4. Hachette Filipacci Magazines. pp. 24–28.
- Bryant, Thos L. (July 1990). "Miscellaneous Ramblings". Road & Track. Vol. 41 no. 11. Hachette Filipacci Magazines. p. 41.
- Egan, Peter (July 1990). "Side Glances: Escape to Wisconsin". Road & Track. Vol. 41 no. 11. Hachette Filipacci Magazines. pp. 18–22.
- The Dean Batchelor Award for Excellence in Automotive Journalism, Motor Press Guild, 2013, retrieved 2014-03-07
- Previous Ken Purdy Award recipients, International Motor Press Association, April 10, 2009, retrieved 2014-03-07
- Edmund Jenks (December 12, 2012), 2012 Dean Batchelor Award Is Snagged By "Porsche - Origin of the Species", Technorati, retrieved 2014-03-07
- Egan, Peter (March 1993). "In Search of the Blues". Road & Track. Vol. 44 no. 7. Hachette Filipacci Magazines. pp. 92–101.
- Egan, Peter (March 1991). "New England & Seven". Road & Track. Vol. 42 no. 7. Hachette Filipacci Magazines. pp. 88–92.
- Egan, Peter (June 2001). "Lone Star Mini". Road & Track. Vol. 52 no. 10. Hachette Filipacci Magazines. pp. 118–127.