Sam Smith is a journalist, an amateur racing driver, an American, and a former professional mechanic who once spent an entire lunch hour annoying his colleagues by walking around the shop and making a pair of safety-wire pliers appear to talk in a high and squeaky voice. In a mark of the unearned good fortune that has highlighted his life and travels, Sam’s co-workers kindly responded without violence, and then he went home and wrote intentionally bad poetry about the whole episode, because he enjoys that kind of thing.
A motoring journalist for 20 years, Smith has written for publications as diverse as The New York Times, Wired, and Esquire. He has co-hosted multiple programmes for America’s NBC Sports TV network, and from 2012 to 2020, he was executive editor and then editor-at-large at Road & Track. In the latter period, he managed to both purchase a Renault Le Car from a Chrysler dealer in rural Indiana and win several awards for his magazine work. Much to his chagrin, those events were not connected.
Smith lives in East Tennessee with his family, two leaky old European motorcycles, and an early BMW 2002tii that is 78 per cent iron oxide by weight. He once owned an S2 Lotus Elan and misses nearly everything about it very much.
Denise McCluggage. The job's ideal – eloquent, humble, a graceful writer, and quick
Changes every week. At the moment? Any one of a number of ERAs
Fondest driving memory:
A tie between qualifying on the front row at the Goodwood Revival – Spitfires overhead, castor oil in the air, the dream made real – and that time my wife and I drove my 1990 BMW M3 some 2200 miles across the country for our wedding
"The automobile is a solution to a logistical problem, but it’s also so much more. Many people have to get behind a wheel to make their lives work. A smaller group of us take some deeper meaning from moving and travelling and feeling a tyre shift under load, and for reasons rarely easy to explain. The question isn’t why we drive. It’s why so many of us see it as something more than mere motion – and how that idea continues to be relevant in a changing world"
Road America: The drive-through
Our US correspondent has a somewhat complex relationship with that all-American institution, the drive-through. Or thru. Sam Smith confesses