According to professional racecar driver Kim Wolfkill ’87, who took over as publisher of MSN Autos (www. autos.msn.com) in August, racing and Reed go hand in hand. “We used to zip around quite a bit when I was at school,” he says. “It may seem odd that racing is the outlet, but challenging yourself and your own limits, that fits into the whole Reed deal.” This year, Wolfkill has been racing all over the country, driving a modified Porsche 911 in the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge Series. He competes on “road courses,” which, unlike NASCAR, consist of both left- and right-hand turns.
Wolfkill made the move to Microsoft’s auto website—one of the premier internet portals in the world for buying, selling, and researching cars and trucks—after more than seven years as senior editor at auto enthusiast magazine Road & Track, where, he says, he got to race (and write about it). “I’ve raced something pretty much every year of my life,” says Wolfkill. “I raced bikes. I raced go-carts. I’ve been competitive in something since I was 10 years old.” At Road & Track, “my job was basically flying all over the world driving someone else’s car,” he says. “It was great, but once you’ve done it for a few years, that’s all there is.”
Wolfkill’s new position gives him an insider’s perspective on the future of the American auto industry, which he doesn’t see changing quickly, in spite of higher gas prices and a glut of hard-to-sell gas-guzzlers. “The problem is that their big moneymakers are pickups and SUVs,” he says. Foreign manufacturers, on the other hand, “didn’t build their business and their profitability around that.”
Wolfkill expects a gradual increase in gas-electric hybrids on American highways—though his personal preference is for new fuel-efficient diesel vehicles, which can run on biofuels and perform better on the road. But he doesn’t expect wholesale abandonment of fossil fuel-powered internal combustion engines anytime soon. As gas prices go up, he predicts, “$3 will become the new $2,” and Americans will just get used to it.
Ben Bradley ’88 is also busy racing cars in his spare time. When he’s not working in the Reed registrar’s office, he’s a full-fledged rally racer. Bradley witnessed his first performance rally in his second year at Reed and since then he has organized 10 of the last 11 Oregon Trail rallies, which are part of the national championship, and has also competed in events in the U.S., British Columbia, Mexico, and Australia. In the two-member competition team that drives each rally car, Bradley opts for the role of navigator. Equipped with safety gear (helmet and a flame-retardant suit) in a reinforced (but street-legal) vehicle, Bradley watches the odometer on the dashboard and consults route instructions to keep his car from meeting a hairpin turn at too high a speed. This year, he competed in the Oregon Trail rally in April in a Volkswagen Golf, and has plans to rebuild a 1966 Ford Cortina for future events.
Patrick Leyshock ‘97 had always wanted to be part of a motorcycle gang (well, a motorcycle community, anyway), but found that existing groups focused less on riding and racing and more on polishing their bikes. Then he joined forces with
Zach Hull ‘95 and Robert Seamans ’96, and Portland’s Sang-Froid Riding Club (www.sang-froidridingclub.com) was born. As six-year-old SFRC developed connections in the biking world,
it began to expand its horizons to include the body politic as well. It has become increasingly involved in government matters and recently hosted a motorcycle and scooter community forum with City Commissioner Sam Adams to discuss issues of importance to urban riders. In addition, Hull and Leyshock just recovered from their third year organizing Portland’s adult soapbox derby on Mt. Tabor, an event that has grown from some friends drinking beer and rolling down the hill, to a weekend spectator extravaganza with an operating budget of $10,000.
A true renaissance man, Keith Martin ’73 went from studying intellectual history at Reed and founding Oregon’s first professional ballet company, Ballet Oregon, to editing and publishing SportsCarMarket.com, the world’s largest database of collectible cars. Martin’s 30-plus-year collecting career has touched on writing, publishing, and television—he has penned a regular column in the New York Times and put out his own book series, including volumes on Ferrari, Jaguar, Alfa Romeo, and Porsche.