I’m a senior editor for Design News, which is an engineering publication. It was previously a print magazine, but shifted to digital only in recent years. I cover the automotive beat, looking at technical innovations and trends, as well as profiling engineers and highlighting their work. I’ve also continued as a periodic contributor to Popular Science for automotive coverage.
Can you tell us what types of stories, trends or issues are on your radar now? Electric drive technology, combustion engine innovations, sensors for driver assistance systems and the pursuit of autonomous capabilities are probably some of the bigger items, along with interesting projects that engineers are developing for their companies.
Describe the craziest or most fun story you have written. I really liked the story I wrote last year looking back at the era when Buick participated in probably more classes of racing simultaneously than any other manufacturer ever has. I think not many people know today that Buick was once huge in racing.https://www.hagerty.com/media/automotive-history/buick-racings-forgotten-v-6-juggernaut/
What story or stories are you most proud of? I appreciated the opportunity to profile the late Bill Scott for European Car magazine, describing the impressive racing history (he defeated Niki Lauda at the Nurburgring in the European Formula Vee championship race!) of the longtime owner of Summit Point raceway. I like to point out that my coverage of the 2001 U.S. Grand Prix at Indianapolis included a profile of the up-and-coming rookie Minardi driver, Fernando Alonso.
What elements or characteristics do you look for in a story? For my purposes, I generally am seeking new and emerging automotive technology. But the elements and characteristics that are the most appealing would be ones that are unexpected or surprising. Tell me why this coal-powered steam car is actually green, and prove it, and I’m interested.
How long have you been in journalism and how did you get started? I got a degree in journalism in 1988 with the goal of becoming an automotive journalist. While I worked as a staffer for various tech industry publications, I freelanced for motorcycle, motorsports and automotive outlets. When I never got the full-time job offer I thought would eventually come, I quit my tech reporting job and became a full time freelance auto writer in 1996.
Finish this sentence: If I am not reporting, I am … active. I play adult-league baseball, compete in triathlons and running events and race a Formula Ford. I have a lot more time for these things now that I’m no longer a carpool driver for various kids’ sports activities, since they’ve all grown up.
What advice do you have for PR people that want to pitch you? Make sure your pitch is relevant to me. Don’t bring me information about car-shopping sites. That’s not what I cover.
Any pet peeves with PR people? Please answer the phone/return texts and emails promptly.
Tell us a little about yourself (family, interests, hobbies, background, etc.). I live in my native Virginia with my wife and whichever of our three kids are currently living at home.
You can follow Dan on Twitter at: @autowriterdan
You might also be interested in: