THE MOTOR PRESS GUILD AWARDS
Lifetime Achievement Award to Doug Stokes
Published on Mon, Dec 21, 2015
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
The annual Motor Press Guild Awards, held at the Petersen Automotive Museum, spanned the trending new as well as the test of time. Micah Muzio of Kelley Blue Book represented the new, earning the Dean Batchelor Award for his video review of the 2015 Polaris Slingshot. Representing the test of time was LA Car’s own Doug Stokes, who earned the MPG Lifetime Achievement Award. Managing Editor Zoran J. Segina reports.
Story and pictures by Zoran J. Segina
The threatened species scribus automoticus, also known as an automotive journalist, has returned to its natural winter habitat—the newly opened and renovated Petersen Automotive Museum. The occasion: The 2015 Motor Press Guild Awards, featuring the Dean Batchelor Award, an annual event honoring excellence in automotive journalism.
The habitat has changed. A provocatively clad venue on the corner of Wilshire and Fairfax underwent a major renovation (guest comedian Chris Titus compared the building to a German hospital). The lights are brighter, the spaces more open, the venue more interactive. The exhibits seem closer, one can walk around the cars. There is a story about Maserati design next to an enclosed space where young people design cars of tomorrow. Around the corner you bump into two Fords: a legendary Ford GT Mark III, and the next generation Ford GT production model. Another exhibit hall features alternative fuels, reaching back to a natural-gas powered Balilla from WWII. To an old-timer the Petersen feels different—much like rock music as heard by someone who grew up listening Sinatra. The entertainment is not bad, just get used to the fact that the times have changed.
The evolving change was an underlying theme at the banquet. Past featured categories involved books and articles. Then the internet happened. This year's MPG awards covered eight categories: books, video reviews, video features, audio, news article, feature article, vehicle review, and photography. The expansion does not mean diluted criteria, merely an acknowledgment that the contributions to automotive journalism are coming in so many different flavors. Peter Starr, one of the judges, challenged the old guys: "We still know what the story is, and how to tell it." And told it they did. The works were authored by venerables and young guns alike, forcing the judges to work hard.
In the end, the 2015 Dean Batchelor Award went to the new generation: Micah Muzio and COTU Productions were honored for the "2015 Polaris Slingshot Review" video review for KBB.com. Throughout the evening, through inter-generational camaraderie and professional respect, it was clear that the high quality of all submissions comes as much from talent as from continuity. Put another way: the young automotive story tellers are doing outstanding work because the old guys taught them how.
This theme dovetails to the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award and its recipient, Doug Stokes. Harold Osmer, himself an MPG award honoree, introduced Doug as a "what-do-you-need" kind of public relations guy. In his career, Doug has raced cars, directed the International Kart Federation, was the PR guy for Mickey Thompson, Team Suzuki, Honda Racing and an environmental program for General Motors. Doug helped launch the Los Angeles Grand Prix, Perris Auto Speedway and Irwindale Speedway. He has served on the board for the Motor Press Guild and edited MilePost, ran the store at Autobooks for a couple of years, and is now Editor of LA Car. Many of the kids he helped while Executive Director of the IKF back in the '70s and early '80s are now associated with Formula 1, NASCAR, NHRA, off-road, motorcycles, and know Doug on a first name basis. The unassuming Doug shared a story: when his name was mentioned at the MPG board meeting discussing the Lifetime Achievement Award, Doug thought he was being called for an assignment.
What does it mean to have Doug as an Editor? (1) Here's a suggestion to the staffers who take mobile phone videos: use landscape format to avoid annoying side bars on the website (and subsequent chastisement from the Editor); and (2) The world has definitely changed as a heretofore unapproachable media representative who, when asked for a press fleet car, replies: “Now things are different. You have Doug.”
On a personal and professional level, I have immense personal pride that Doug chose to serve as the editor of LA Car, along with an even greater sense of responsibility to meet his high professional expectations.
Congratulations, Doug, the Motor Press Guild Lifetime Achievement Award was well-selected. And now enough accolades, back to work. Our new (old?) Editor won't have it any other way. - ZJS
The following individuals who took top honors in their individual categories:
DEAN BATCHELOR AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN AUTOMOTIVE JOURNALISM & BEST VEHICLE REVIEW (VIDEO):
Micah Muzio and COTU Productions: "2015 Polaris Slingshot Review" - KBB.com
DEAN BATCHELOR LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD:
Larry P. Vellequette and Luca Ciferri: "The Coming Squeeze" - Automotive News
Hans Greimel: "Confessions of a Price Fixer" - Automotive News
Basem Wasef: "Review: The Ferocious New Corvette Z06 is an $80K Ferrari-Killer" - Wired
Charlie Vogelheim and Shawn Myers: "#35: The Best and Worst 'Cars and Coffee' Ever" - Motor Trend Audio
Sam Posey: "Where the Writer Meets the Road" - David Bull Publishing
Adam Carolla, Nate Adams, Mike August, Matt D'Andria, and Norm Pattiz: "Winning: The Racing Life of Paul Newman" - Sontalia, Mollette
BOB D'OLIVO AWARD FOR PHOTOGRAPHY:
Dale Kistemaker: "24+30" - Porsche Panorama