Cars and Trucks

Daniel Pund Hits the Road, Again

Michael SimariCar and Driver

From the May 2020 issue of Car and Driver.

The carpet here at Car and Driver headquarters is pretty typical commercial-grade stuff, the kind you might find in an airport lounge in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, or a dentist’s office in Eugene, Oregon. It is of no particular color. Or rather, it is woven of so many colors as to appear like none in particular. Unfocus your eyes and it’s a sort of dark-khaki/brown hue. But it’s been designed that way to coordinate with a wide variety of standard off-the-shelf modern office furniture. And it’s durable, having survived more than a decade of abuse and shuffling traffic without looking any better or worse than when it was installed.

daniel pund

Since I arrived back at Car and Driver as deputy editor about nine years ago (after a seven-year hiatus), the carpet has served as a ready metaphor for this place. When then editor-in-chief Eddie Alterman would bemoan some entrenched view of the staff, I’d say, “Man, that’s just in the carpet around here.” He seemed not to mind that this observation didn’t actually solve any problem. So I used it frequently.

Now, as I prepare to leave Car and Driver for the second time in my career, I’m going to miss using that line. I won’t so much miss the actual carpet, of course. This, even though the fibers are imbued with my own grime: shed skin cells, spilled coffee, and whatever I tracked in from our garage. There’s also probably a bit of my bodily fluids in the main north-south hallway of the building. That’s where, during a top-speed test of a Onewheel (basically a skateboard with one electrically powered go-kart tire through the center), I wiped out so hard, I ended up on the carpet facing the opposite direction with a mashed traffic cone under my ass. Only six months of physical therapy later, I was not much worse than I was before the accident. At least the skid marks we left during an impromptu Friday-afternoon race of a folding electric scooter have been removed. The lap times are still on the whiteboard by the finish line, three years after that particular bout of stupidity.

car and driver rug

Michael SimariCar and Driver

When I first walked through Car and Driver‘s door at the old Hogback Road location right at the turn of this millennium, I was honored just to set foot on that office’s equally unattractive carpet. I was in the company of giants: Brock Yates and Patrick Bedard and John Phillips still roamed the halls along with many others with less name recognition but tremendous talent. Well, Phillips was sequestered in a cold room across the atrium, but still.

The next time I looked around, I was part of the place, a fiber in the carpet. I’d been institutionalized. I was a Car and Driver guy even while I wasn’t actively employed at the place. I actually cared when perfect strangers substituted an ampersand for the “and” in our name. My daughters made Father’s Day cards with Car and Driver themes. When they built a painted-cardboard city at a summer art camp, one of the buildings was my office, with a faithfully rendered Car and Driver logo. It was sited thoughtfully across the street from a building with a giant cheeseburger on top.

I couldn’t be prouder of having become so enmeshed in the operation. I couldn’t be prouder of the staff of professionals I worked with over the years who treated Car and Driver with absolute reverence and everything else in the world with a distinct and delightful lack thereof. And I couldn’t be more thankful to you, the readers of this little project we put out. We’ve never pulled punches around this place. Neither have you. Have a look at the Backfires section of this very issue for fresh evidence of that. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

Car and Driver is in able hands; some old, some new. And the carpet will surely persist, I hope forever. It’ll just gather slightly different stains now.

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