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Tail Lights: Break Time's Over

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Opinions expressed by Bill Crittenden are not official policies or positions of The Crittenden Automotive Library. You can read more about the Library's goals, mission, policies, and operations on the About Us page.

Tail Lights
Automotive History from a Different Perspective

Volume 6, Issue 1: Break Time's Over

Bill Crittenden
15 March 2017

The family at the beginning of winter, during one of the rare snow days this season. Just my luck: I bought snow tires for the first time this year, and then I discovered what a snow drought is.

I know it's not the usual picture of tail lights, but this issue is a lot more personal.
As I began putting this together, my office chair had been sitting cold and empty for almost an entire month. I've had to take some unplanned time off, and things are still not yet back to normal.

In the context of The Crittenden Automotive Library I refer to Heidi, my wife, as our "Personnel Manager." Directly, it's basically an old-timey important-sounding title because she keeps me motivated and keeps the family organized so that I can do what I do without running out of food and clean underwear.

Side note: I hate the term "Human Resources." "Resources" are things like office paper or a can of gasoline. Attaching our formal species name to "resources" makes a supply of employees sound as impersonal to a company as a supply of copy paper...and just as expendable.

Anyway...at the end of January Heidi began having serious back pain issues and at the beginning of February it required emergency surgery.

After spending several months bogged down and not very productive on the Library due to overtime at the regular job, projects around the house, and family activities, now I was suddenly responsible for the entirety of the housework and the care of a person who couldn't lift anything for herself.

Something had to give...and I gave up trips to the gym and working on The Crittenden Automotive Library.

There's also been a lot of comfort food involved over the last month, but I don't want to turn this into a food blog!

By February 6th, already feeling overwhelmed by what life was throwing at us, I posted a message that I was permanently quitting the site. At the beginning of March the transition overtime began tapering off, the house started to get put back together, I began to find myself wondering what I would do with the extra free time I just created for myself, and with the immediate needs taken care of thoughts began to turn to just how much the hospital bills would be.

I already know that I can't handle unproductive time well under normal financial circumstances. I know enough about myself to know that I'm going to need something productive to do pretty much from when I wake up until I go to bed to keep me distracted from the bills that will start to accumulate shortly.

After spending more than ten years building The Crittenden Automotive Library online and accumulating the resources you can't see offline, it just makes sense to keep building on what's already well established rather than starting over on a new project.

My past experience has been that the extra income from the site's advertising has been extremely well timed and I'm hoping to repeat that performance. The main ads have been tweaked now that the site's not flooded with 2016 campaign ads, new mobile ads have been implemented, and the GoFundMe campaign has been restarted.

Plus, I just finished a new office at the end of January specially made for the 2017 racing season. It'd be a shame not to use it!

I've gotten a few token items online but I've still been spending time shopping for our new medical reality and assembling a lot of the things we've needed so I'm not quite ready to get back to work at the pace I used to work at let alone the pace I want to be at now. By summertime Heidi should be further along in her recovery, spring cleaning will be done, and I won't have the money left to create little fix-it distractions for myself. I plan to get back to work in a major way by the time car show season returns to the Chicago area, and I'll be out as much as I can for a lot more content that will be exclusive to The Crittenden Automotive Library.

So for this spring uploads of new material will be spotty at best, but hopefully over the summer I'll be able to sustain a pace of new material I haven't yet been able to before.


Every $100 in contributions allows me to take a night off of the "regular job" and put more time into building The Crittenden Automotive Library.

PayPal address: admin@CarsAndRacingStuff.com
GoFundMe link: https://www.gofundme.com/3gll734 (new link)

Major Additions

The Acronyms & Initialisms page has been changed to "Automobiles Decoded." The change in name reflects the addition of engine codes, chassis codes, build and option codes, and all sorts of new entries to the page. As this soon expands from a single page to an entire section, it will be a valuable resource for anyone who comes across a jumble of letters & numbers that they can't identify.

It's really random, but while I was puttering around The Internet Archive last fall for the last of the Prelinger films I found a partial collection of The Dirt Racing Connection podcast and interview clips licensed for republishing in The Internet Archive, and another 8 hours of audio has been added to the Library from 2008-2009. Also, it's a nice addition to a type of racing otherwise lacking in Library content.

From PodBay, a podcast aggregator, I found some automotive related podcast episodes from non-automotive podcasts. These are notable for expanding the horizons of "automotive-themed content" as two of them are actually about car-themed board games, and one is about people who have sex with cars!

I've also discovered that the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has videos of court proceedings on YouTube. This is the court made world-famous (or infamous, depending on your perspective) for their ruling against President Trump's Executive Order banning travel into the U.S. from 7 predominantly-Muslim countries.

Well, that video is not going into The Crittenden Automotive Library, but in the court's YouTube Channel I've found arguments on record regarding various dealerships, automakers, insurance companies, and trucking companies. Several of these videos have already been added to Library indices over the past few months, and there's a whole list of more to go online as time allows.

Also from YouTube, I've discovered that NASCAR has been adding Creative Commons licensing to select broadcasts. The first file I've added to the Library, last year's race at Sonoma, is only in the form of a link to the original YouTube page. The file is 2.6GB, and it's already viewable on YouTube even though embedding is disabled. I've saved the file to my own hard drive so if it's ever taken down I'll have the incentive and the ability to reupload it to our own channel but in the meantime the files are just too big to send back and forth repeatedly.

I'd always dreamed of being able to add court transcripts and full race films to the Library, and now I've got the race films from the top series in the United States and something even better than transcripts! And at a half hour to an hour per case and 3+ hours each race, expect that total number of video hours to climb rapidly...until my internet service provider cuts me off for using too much data!

History Beyond the Fenders

The Crittenden Automotive Library includes information from all aspects of automotive transportation and competition. This section highlights some new material added to the Library about a topic other than vehicles themselves.

Even with limited mobility, Heidi keeps our household running more smoothly than if it were up to me. I can be a bit of the absent-minded professor type, and it's Heidi that keeps the lights on & the internet connected, handles finances & medical forms, and keeps the family on schedule with her hand-decorated planner.

Our home is a team effort.

So that had me thinking about the people around me in the automotive media, marketing, and sales businesses.

Society likes to focus on the heroes and villains of the racetrack, actors and celebrities, designers and inventors: Dale Jr., Mary Barra, Jeremy Clarkson.

Behind all those important people have been legions more supporting them. Dale Jr. has Hendrick Motorsports. Barra has an army of GM engineers & factory workers. Clarkson still has Hammond, May, Wilman, and whatever members of his new TV program's crew he hasn't punched in the face over a plate of food.

Without racing teams NASCAR's Monster Energy Cup Series couldn't be a national touring series, General Motors would make maybe two cars per year, and The Grand Tour would be a Facebook live stream.

I can't imagine how many hours of productive time I'd lose and how much I couldn't get online if I had to learn to read health insurance forms and balance the budget every month. You don't read Heidi's contributions to The Crittenden Automotive Library directly on the screen, but they're there.

So to Heidi, and to all the folks out there who put in 40+ hour weeks in the automotive or motorsport business behind the camera or behind the wall: thank you! Your contributions are not forgotten.


The Dewey Decimal System's designation for automobiles, trucks, motorcycles, and driving fall within the 629.2 range. In addition to the online collection, Library Owner Bill Crittenden's personal collection of books, magazines, and miscellaneous papers is available for reference, and this section highlights new materials available on the online Library's Reference Desk and notices of new books being published.

Not only did I make it back to a bookstore shortly after the new year but I've even managed to put most of the books I picked up into the Reference Desk! Thanks to Leslie & John Paul Spencer for a Half Price Books gift card that let me bring home the Oldsmobile manuals and the DeLorean autobiography. The DeLorean bio is interesting because it's published by Zondervan, a name I recognized from my childhood Bible and is a publisher of Christan books so there should be plenty of religious references in Mr. DeLorean's story.

Also, the older Oldsmobile manual wasn't copyrighted, so it goes on the pile of "books to be scanned when I have more time..." If I had the time, there are several original shop manuals I could scan and post online in their entirety, including 1966 Plymouth and 1957 Chrysler.

1975 Book1975 Oldsmobile Chassis Service Manual by General Motors
1979 Book1979 Oldsmobile Chassis Service Manual by General Motors
1982 BookAmerica From the Road: A Motorist's Guide to Our Country's Natural Wonders and Most Interesting Places; The Reader's Digest Association, Inc.
1985 BookDeLorean by John Z. DeLorean with Ted Schwarz; Zondervan Publishing
1990 BookThe Verse By the Side of the Road: The story of the Burma-Shave signs and jingles with all 600 of the roadside rhymes. by Frank Rowsome, Jr.; Plume

New books from Veloce Publishing...
The Ultimate Book of the Air-cooled Porsche 911 by Brian Long
Mercedes-Benz SL – The Essential Buyer's Guide by Julian Parish
Velocette 350 & 500 Singles – The Essential Buyer's Guide by Peter Henshaw
Piaggio Scooters – The Essential Buyer's Guide by Henry Willis
January's new books from Veloce Publishing:
Anatomy of the Classic Mini by Mark Huthert
Mike&Scrabble – A guide to training your new Human by Scrabble, as dictated to Mike Dicks
The Ultimate Book of the Air-cooled Porsche 911 (Leatherbound Edition) by Brian Long
How to Restore Classic Off-road Motorcycles – Enthusiast's Restoration Manual by Ricky Burns
The MG Midget & Austin Healey Sprite – High-Performance Manual (New 4th Edition) by Daniel Stapleton
Volkswagen Type 3 – Concept, Design, International Production Models & Development by Simon Glen
Toyota MR2 – Coupes & Spyders – Revised and updated Second Edition by Brian Long
A Life in Car Design – Jaguar, Lotus, TVR by Oliver Winterbottom
To Boldly Go – twenty six vehicle designs that dared to be different by Graham Hull
How to Restore Classic Car Interiors – Enthusiast's Restoration Manual

New Reprints from Veloce Publishing
Alfa Romeo Giulia GT Coupé – The Essential Buyer's Guide by Keith Booker
Fiat 500 & 600 – The Essential Buyer's Guide by Malcolm Bobbitt
Ford Mustang – The Essential Buyer's Guide by Matt Cook
Jaguar XJ-S – The Essential Buyer's Guide by Peter Crespin

New to eBook Format from Veloce Digital
Competition Car Aerodynamics – A Practical Handbook by Simon McBeath
Formula 5000 Motor Racing – Back then ... and back now by Derek Lawson
How to build your own Supercar – The Essential Manual by Brian Thompson
American Trucks of the 1960s – Those were the days ... by Norm Mort
Mike&Scrabble – A guide to training your new Human by Scrabble, as dictated to Mike Dicks
How to Modify Volkswagen Bus Suspension, Brakes & Chassis for High Performance by James Hale
Alfa Romeo Montreal – The dream car that came true by Bruce Taylor
Moto Guzzi Sport & Le Mans Bible by Ian Falloon
Alpine & Renault – The Development of the Revolutionary Turbo F1 Car by Roy Smith
BRM V16 by Karl Ludvigsen
Bugatti – The 8-Cylinder Touring Cars by Barrie Price & Jean-Louis Arbey
Russian Motor Vehicles by Maurice Kelly
Lancia Delta 4WD/Integrale by Graham Robson

To get a mention here, just email admin@CarsAndRacingStuff.com and let us know what's being published and when it'll be out.

Current Library Statistics (since 6 December 2016)

Articles: 37,273 (+861)
Images: over 34,295 estimated (same)
Publications: 716,282 pages in 8,963 documents (same)
Video: 1 week, 69:19:28 (+5:22:16)
Audio: 2 weeks, 5 days, 17:25:47 (+8:54:39)
Event Photography: 188 sets (same)

Our February statistics were a bit down due to a lack of social media activity and new material, but we still managed to keep most of the traffic flowing...

February 2017: 11,844 page views from 6,220 total users for month, daily average of 423 views from 222.1 users.
January 2017: 13,207 page views from 7,061 total users for month, daily average of 426.0 views from 227.7 users.

Page views and user information provided by Google Analytics.

Current Social Media Statistics (since 6 December 2016)

Facebook: 474 Likes (+33)
Google+: 68 Followers (+1)
Instagram: 590 Followers (+55)
Pinterest: 30 Followers (+6)
Tumblr: 207 Followers (+29)
Twitter @CrittendenAuto: 1,760 Followers (+85)
Twitter @Crittenden_RT: 90 Followers (new)

About The Crittenden Automotive Library

The Crittenden Automotive Library @ CarsAndRacingStuff.com, based in Woodstock, Illinois, is an online collection of information relating to not only cars, trucks, and motorcycles, but also the roads they drive on, the races they compete in, cultural works based on them, government regulation of them, and the people who design, build, and drive them.  We are dedicated to the preservation and free distribution of information relating to all types of cars and road-going vehicles for those seeking the greater understanding of these very important elements of modern society, how automobiles have affected how people live around the world, or for the general study of automotive history and anthropology.  In addition to the historical knowledge, we preserve current events for future generations.

The Library currently consists of over 716,000 pages of books, periodicals, and documents, over 37,200 individual articles, more than 9 days of video and 19 days of audio, more than 34,200 photographs & other images, and a Reference Desk with more than 225 book volumes and thousands of advertising brochures & documents kept available for the information they contain but can't be copied into the online Library for sharing due to copyright.

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