Tony Borroz grew up in a sportscar-oriented family. Although he currently writes for an automotive website, his professional background is in film and television production. He also has some experience in corporate communications as well.
Over the decades, Tony has spent a lot of time around sportscars and antique cars. When he is not writing feature articles or working as a consultant for various clients, Tony enjoys spending lots of time driving on back roads early on Sunday mornings; going to car club functions; and watching races on TV. As an automotive journalist, Tony has written articles for Mecum Auto Auctions, Wired.com, Automoblog.net, CarThrottle.com, and CarReview.com. He has also worked as a content expert and researcher for Turn 10 Studios, makers of the popular Forza Motorsports franchise and for Healey Motorsports, a sponsorship company. Journalism-wise, Tony has worked for many popular broadcasting firms like American Broadcasting Company (ABC), British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and others.
I recently had the opportunity to ask Tony Borroz 10 questions on topics like his love for sportscars; work experience as an automotive journalist; and others.
The Early Years
Rahul Raman: What was the first car you learned to drive in and if you had the opportunity, would you buy it again?
Tony Borroz: That’s sort of hard one to answer, since I grew up around things like go-karts and riding lawn mowers and tractors and stuff like that. The first automobile I ever drove was an AMC Hornet (my dad had an affinity for Rambler/AMC products ever since owning their predecessor’s Hudson Hornet (the first car that Mario and Aldo Andretti ever raced, by the way)). The first car I ever owned was a Mercury Capri with the 2.6 liter V6. It was a good car in a lot of ways, even though it was a handful in the rain and this particular example was root beer brown, which is a terrible color for a car. Would I even want to own an AMC Hornet? No.
RR: Since you are a big fan of European, and especially British sportscars, which make and model stands out the most to you?
TB: Well I’m not necessarily a fan of British cars above all others, I just grew up around them. And that was more a matter of economic necessity for my blue-collar family, rather than an overt choice. We all desired Italian cars, but they were more expensive, so British cars it was.
The British one that always stood out for me (and for various members of my family) were Lotus. They were sort of the technological groundbreaking cars when I was a kid. Collin Chapman was the first guy to make a full monocoque racing car, he was best at exploiting the “rear-engined” concept (actually mid-engined, but that’s what they called it back then). The Lotus Elan was pretty much everything a sportscar (which, in my opinion, is one word, and not two) should be: Light, tight and handles right.
RR: Since you come from a car-oriented family, what was the conversation like over dinner when it came to talking about cars?
TB: Mostly about how to fix them. No, that’s a joke (half-joking, anyway). Mostly we talked about racing. Who was hot, who was not, who was rolling out the cool new car that would be tough to beat, things like that. If not talking about racing, it was talking about which cars we desired (which were usually Italian cars) and which cars we could afford (which were generally British). Since my dad was Italian, to outsiders the conversation could seem very heated. But that was for people who didn’t know what a typical Italian dinner conversation is like. “What’re you crazy?! There’s no way a Lancia Aurelia has the chassis set up as good as an Alfa Berlina! No way! Yer nuts! The Alfa will chew it up and spit out the pieces.” Chew it up and spit out the pieces, but the way, was a favorite expression of my dad’s.
Living the Automotive Journalist Life
RR: Over the years, you have worked for many clients within and outside the automotive industry, so which client you worked for stands out the most?
TB: Probably working with Bill Healey at Healey Motorsports. He’s still a close friend to this day. The company didn’t work out, long-term, but while it was up and running it was a total gas. It was a motorsports sponsorship company, so we went to a lot of races and spent a lot of time in places like Speedway, Indiana and Mooresville, North Carolina. Bill is personal friends with scores of team owners, race drivers, mechanics, entire crews even. Thanks to that gig, I got to talk chassis set up with Paul Newman, crack jokes with Rodger Penske and shake hands and talk with A.J. Watson.
RR: As an automobile enthusiast, having only one car is almost impossible, but if you were forced to, which one would it be and why?
TB: Well, my dad said many true things in his life, but one of the truest things he always said was, “Finding interesting cars isn’t the problem. Finding garage space, that’s the problem.” That said, if I had to have only one, it would most likely still be the 1994 Mazda Miata R Package that I currently own. I jokingly say that “It’s the best British car I’ve ever owned.” And yeah, even though it’s built in Hiroshima, Japan, it’s sure got that British vibe down. It goes, turns and stops better than 90% of the cars out there, it’s cheap to run and is reliable as an anvil. And for someone like me, with hands of ham and feet of clay, it has the literal life-saving quality of being very forgiving to drive. It turns in like a Lotus Elan S2, but you can haul it back in line like a Triumph TR-4 IRS. And if anyone gives my guff about it being “a girl’s car” I usually offer them a ride. I’ll change their minds in three corners, have them whimpering in another three, and three more after that I can have them near catatonic. Fantastic cars.
RR: Your bio in one of the client’s list says you have worked as a stuntman, which movie was this and when?
TB: Oh, that was, and I’m not making this up, for a movie called “Shredder Orpheus” back in 1990. It was done by a skating buddy of mine named Robert McGinley. He’s still working as a writer/director in Hollywood, and is very rare in that industry: A nice guy. I was a stunt double for Jessie Bernstein and, as Robert put it, it was “a movie about a guy who goes to Hell on his skateboard to get his girlfriend back.” I got to skate in areas which would have gotten me literally arrested and thrown in jail, had I not been there with a 100-person film crew. When Robert actually paid me money at the end of my shoot, I was staggered. I thought I was doing it for free. It was $68.73 as I recall. I spent it on skateboard gear.
RR: Print vs. Television journalism, which one do you prefer and why?
TB: Well, since I don’t see much journalism on TV anymore, that’s kind of easy one. My first job out of college was working in TV news. Now, it’s sad, TV journalism used to be Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite. Now it’s Bill O’Reilly Roger Ailes; 4th rate hacks that couldn’t string a logical sentence together if their life depended on it. I’ve seen more morals from hyenas. Sure, print has it disadvantages, but at least it has standards.
RR: How much of an influence did you have as a content expert and researcher while you worked at Turn 10 studios?
TB: A pretty big one, in some ways. I was responsible for making sure things like car colors (C & C as it was called in Detroit decades ago) were right. Dashboards and given wheels for given models were correct. Things like that. I also did limited test driving. The way it worked was, if you had driven the real car, they’d sit you down at an XBox running the latest Rev of the game and say, “Okay, how does this feel in comparison to the real thing?” I was one of the few (only?) guys in the office who had been in a Superstock Dodge Dart and had driven an original Challenger with the 383 & Six Pack setup. So I influenced that at least the cars looked right.
RR: If you could just attend one motorsports event, what would it be and why?
TB: I’m going to be attending the 101st running of The Indianapolis 500 for the first time in my life this coming May. That’s at the behest of Carl and Chris, and I’ll be going with my friend Bill Healey. He lives only three blocks away from The Speedway and since he’s friends with lots of teams (like I mentioned) he’ll be getting me a “hard card” ID with Dale Coyne’s crew (a super nice guy and his team won the first race this year) so I’ll have access everywhere throughout the event. But I’ll probably spend the race itself sitting in the turn four grandstands with Bill and his extended family, They’ve had seats there since the 1930s so why would I want to sit anywhere else?
Other than that, I’d love to see the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. My blood runs Italian racing red, I live and die by the fortunes of the Ferrari F1 team, and to be there among my people, the Tifosi, would be like getting a psychic tattoo.
Advice for Future Automotive Journalists
RR: Do you have any advice on how an aspiring automotive journalist could get started in the industry?
TB: The simplest is: Write. Find an outlet, and write all the time. All. The. time. If you have to write for little money, take it – but always make them pay you. The modern, internet-driven world expects you to work for free, which is Grade A horse manure. Don’t fall for that. If they are making money off of your work, you should get paid. Period. You wouldn’t expect to walk into a McDonald’s and get a free burger because you’d “give them exposure” would you? If you’re not doing so already, hang out around car people. Ultimately, that’s where the stories are. Read. Read a lot of the best car writers you can find – and I’d highly recommend Robert Daley, Henry N Manney III, and Peter Egan – and read the best writers in general that really make you gasp when you read their stuff. Find your own voice. Sure, you can cop licks from people here and there, everyone does, but you’ve got to be you. I want to hear your opinion on the subject. Not anyone else’s.
As you can see, Tony Borroz has done it all. From writing articles for automotive websites like CarThrottle.com, appearing on broadcasting networks like ABC and BBC, and even doing some work as a stuntman, Tony Borroz’s resume reads like a lifetime checklist for any aspiring automotive journalist.