Since I'm newer to the whole racing world than most of you out there (and most of the racing fans I meet), I'm often playing catch-up. Which is what happened this weekend.
At the urging of a Facebook connection, I finally headed up to Glendale to a wonderful bookstore: Autobooks-Aerobooks. It's, you guessed it, a bookstore that focuses on print and video about cars and airplanes. A bookstore? Focusing on cars and racing? That might just be where I belong.
And I'm really playing catch-up. The store has been around since 1951, and it seems to still be going strong, even in this era of digital books. As Tina van Curen, the current owner, said to me, "The kind of books people buy here, they want to look at in large format, not read on a little screen." And she's right.
My excuse for finally getting up there this weekend was a signing by Vel Milatich and Parnelli Jones for their large-format, coffee-table book, The Cars of Vel Milatich and Parnelli Jones (photographer Dean Kirkland was also signing). In the hour I was in the shop—overwhelmed by the variety of materials and the people eager to stand around talking about cars and racing—the place was buzzing, and Parnelli was kept busy signing that book and his autobiography (and taking photos with us).
But the store doesn't just have signing events, they also have an informal car show every Saturday morning. And it's not just any car show, it's one that Jay Leno routinely appears at. I'd heard "Leno is often at the bookstore," in the past, but I was still astonished to walk into the store at 11:15 Saturday morning and find him there—on his way out, but stopping to sign books and take photos with anyone who asked. Nicest guy ever.
So, anyone who's into cars? This place should be on your list of places to stop when you come to LA. I'll probably take you there myself. (And Simon? Tina's interested in doing a signing event of "car-guy novels" with fiction writers next year ... maybe you can come down?) And if we get there on a Saturday, we might just run into LA's biggest car guy and one of his treasures.