Mo­tortrend loses two cor­ner­stones

Motor Trend - - Intake - Daniel Charles Ross Ross was Detroit and na­tional ed­i­tor of Mo­tortrend from 1986 to 1995. MIKE CON­NOR

Tony Swan, 78, for­mer ed­i­tor-in-chief of this mag­a­zine, died Septem­ber 27. Then, a month later, for­mer tech­ni­cal ed­i­tor

Ron Grable, 85, died Oc­to­ber 31.

Both were tow­er­ing per­son­al­i­ties in this mag­a­zine and au­to­mo­tive jour­nal­ism at large—and both were highly com­pet­i­tive race car driv­ers, from SCCA club rac­ing to F5000, Trans Am, even NASCAR. They used their rac­ing prow­ess to bring knowl­edge, depth, and ki­netic en­ergy to their sto­ries.

Of many qual­i­ties im­bued in Tony and Ron, it was their shared con­tempt for bull that dis­tin­guished them. Swan coun­tered with an acer­bic wit that could roil with the wrath of a Vik­ing; Grable, tall and quiet, would fix of­fend­ers in a Clint East­wood gaze so icy you could see his breath. Both, how­ever, were com­pas­sion­ate teach­ers and un­hesi­tant men­tors who in­spired the very best in us.

Swan won three SCCA Di­vi­sional crowns and drove dozens of 24-hour races. I was priv­i­leged to co-drive with him at the 24 Hours of Nel­son Ledges one year. In a di­verse ca­reer, Swan was ed­i­tor-in-chief here, chief auto critic at the Detroit Free Press, a long­time top-tier free­lance writer and ed­i­tor, and ex­ec­u­tive ed­i­tor at Car and Driver.

Grable was ex­traor­di­nar­ily tal­ented— no one called him Ron, just Grable or RG. It’s no hy­per­bole to ad­mit the staff in that era idol­ized him. Whether he was writ­ing a tech piece, of­fer­ing story ideas in a staff meet­ing, or lead­ing our ex­trale­gal conga line through the moun­tains for Car of the Year, we fol­lowed him lit­er­ally and fig­u­ra­tively.

In 1993, Grable ex­pe­ri­enced per­ma­nent in­juries when he fell off a moun­tain­side while on a mo­tor­cy­cle test. It was de­ter­mined that he prob­a­bly sus­tained a mi­cro-black­out, likely brought on by years of g-forces in his aer­o­batic Pitts S-2 bi­plane. It oc­curred at the worst pos­si­ble mo­ment.

We vis­ited for years af­ter he left the mag­a­zine, al­ways pow­er­ing down sushi and get­ting caught up on cars and peo­ple. As he grap­pled with and dom­i­nated his in­juries from the bike crash, I wit­nessed first­hand the kind of per­sonal re­solve and for­ti­tude to which we all can only as­pire.

For such a quiet man, he was a force of na­ture. I’m re­minded of the Rumi quote that says, “When I am silent, I have thun­der hid­den in­side.”

We send our deep­est con­do­lences to Grable’s and Swan’s fam­i­lies, friends, and col­leagues—and mourn the loss to us all.

Ron Gable, far left, and Tony Swan, above, made ma­jor con­tri­bu­tions to Mo­tortrend and au­to­mo­tive jour­nal­ism writ large.



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