Mustang MonthlyNews & Views
Times of Change - Hoof Beats
I grew up in a Ford family. My parents both drove Fords, my mom a Fox-body Mustang, and my dad an F-150. When I was about 10 years old (1992) I discovered Mustang Monthly on the newsstand. I flipped through the pages, admiring the classic Mustangs that I loved so dearly—especially the '64½-'66 versions. I would even draw my version of decals, usually Shelby, on the photos in the magazine, and even on the cover. I would dream of driving these cars. Heck, I would have given my right arm to just sit in one—a red one with red Pony interior, preferably. (I'm left-handed anyway.)
Some time later, Editor Donald Farr and my mother met in a Dale Carnegie Training course. There, the two struck up a friendship that lasts to this day. The two would run into each other from time to time, and she would fill him in on how her Mustang-loving son was progressing. At that point in my life, I only dreamed that I could one day see my name on a story on the pages of the most coveted Mustang magazine. I told myself that I wanted to do it, but didn't really believe that I could.
As I grew into my teens, I became involved in agriculture. Cows, pigs, chickens, and rabbits occupied my time, and 4-H and FFA were my organizations of choice. I had a lot of fun raising (and showing) animals, and by high school, had my sights set on an Agribusiness Management degree from the University of Florida (or Auburn, or Clemson—let's face it—whichever would take me). I worked on my '73 Bronco and friends' cars as a hobby, but the thought of pursuing a career in the automotive industry had completely faded.
Then, about halfway through my senior year in high school, I received a scholarship to attend Florida Southern College in my hometown of Lakeland, Florida. This “full ride” would provide me with everything I needed to achieve academic success and a subsequent bachelor's degree in the program of my choice. Problem was, the only ag-related degree was citrus—not something that I was interested in at all.
I started in the Fall of 2001 (the week before 9/11, for reference), and pursued classes toward a degree in communication. College was fun, but I was miserable. I did have a job at a local grocery store, and was able to see my friends and family whenever I wanted. It wasn't that I felt misplaced, but I definitely felt like I didn't belong there. To this day, I couldn't tell you why.
By the end of my sophomore year, my grades were pretty pitiful. So when it came time to go back to school in the Fall, let's just say that I wasn't excited. About the same time, automotive shows like Junkyard Wars, Monster Garage, and Overhaulin' were gaining popularity. And instead of attending classes like I had planned, I did ride-alongs and sit-ins with family friends who owned their own businesses. I had made up my mind that college wasn't for me, and I was going to pursue a career in the automotive industry. I would own my own business and build hot rods and custom cars. Brilliant. To say that it wasn't a popular decision would be a gross understatement. You can just imagine.
By October 2004, I was enrolled and attending Wyotech, an automotive school that was also gaining popularity. I moved 1,000 miles from home to Blairsville, Pennsylvania, to attend. And though I was so far from my friends, family, and hometown, I felt right at home. I made friendships that will last a lifetime, worked in a restaurant, and learned a lot about cars and life. I had found my niche, and was excited about this new journey that I was embarking on. By graduation, I was 22 years old.
A few jobs over the next four years would take me from being a service advisor at a dealership, to installing A/C systems in classic cars for Classic Auto Air, and back to the same dealership as the assistant body shop manager. I was searching for that perfect automotive job that would provide me with a challenge, but would also reward me with a sense of accomplishment. By 2009, that opportunity would come along.
Mr. Farr and co-worker Joe Galloway became aware that MM's parent company, Source Interlink Media (SIM), was closing its New Jersey office, and one of the Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords staffers wasn't making the move to Tampa, where that title (among others) was relocating to. This open position needed to be filled, and I was the man for the job. After a nerve-wracking interview process, I got the job as associate editor of MM&FF.
Over the past five years I have worked for SIM, now The Enthusiast Network (TEN), on MM&FF as associate editor and technical editor; on Modified Mustangs & Fords as editor; and now on Mustang Monthly as editor. This is the magazine that started it all for me. I'm both honored and humbled to be given the reigns of MM, a magazine and brand that I hold near and dear to my heart.
Sadly, though, this first editorial is also my last. Upgrades within TEN now require all staff to be located in one central office, in Los Angeles, 2,500 miles from my home in Florida. By the time you read this, my amazing girlfriend of seven years, Gina, will be Mrs. Christ, as our wedding is planned for August 9. Both my family and hers are here in Florida, and we just can't bring ourselves to make the move away from everyone and everything we know.
This entrance (and departure) is very bittersweet for me, as Editor Farr (“The Don” as I call him) has become my mentor over the years, and I am honored to have walked (though only briefly) in his shadow.
On a lighter note, I have taken another job with a local company that will allow me to stay in Florida, and I will remain in the automotive industry. Mustangs are my passion, and I intend on remaining immersed in the hobby. As one door closes, another opens, they say. And since I'm choosing to close the door, the decision didn't come easy.
As for Mustang Monthly, it will soldier on with a new editor. Mustangs have a way of bringing us all together, so I encourage all of you to rally around whoever takes this chair.