Professional automotive journalism is not exclusively populated by white guys... though it often does feel that way. In an effort to start changing that, do yourself a favor and check out some of the folks on this big list of Black personalities in the car scene.
I’m not out here promoting diversity arbitrarily. Getting your automotive news and tips from a variety of perspectives will give you, dear reader, a richer appreciation of car culture and make you smarter!
What is arbitrary is the order of this list. Sort of. I tried to spread better-known and lesser-known names around a little and it starts with some folks I’ve worked with, but it’s not “ranked” in any way. It’s certainly not exhaustive either, so I hope the comment section gets populated with more names after I publish this!
Some of these folks I know personally, some I hadn’t heard of before I started putting this post together. Many of them I found on Twitter thanks to the big batch of replies my bud Brad Brownell got when he asked people to share their favorite Black car content creators. (Shoutout to you if you dropped some names in that thread.)
Brown is a Jalopnik alum, he used to be our Social Media Editor and fired up our Facebook group “The Way Back.” (Which you can still join, if you want!) He’s currently Digital Editor at Road & Track. You might find him buzzing around New York in a WRX. Check out this R&T story he did about buying a BMW E30, or peep his Twitter.
Holland can be seen racing around the Nürburgring or Colorado mountains. He also reviews high-performance cars and has done a few track tests for us. You may have also seen his byline recently covering sim racing at The Drive or as a presenter on FASTER if you get the Sky TV channel. Check out this writeup he did about how fast his salvage-title Corvette was up Pikes Peak. (Very!)
Foley’s a former Detroiter, currently New York-based writer not completely focused on cars, but he has so many Jalopnik bylines I’d be remiss to not shout him out here.
Here’s a throwback to 2015 and his classic: “How To Drive In Detroit Without Being A Jackass,” which Erin assures me still holds up. His book, by a similar name, is on Amazon. How To Live In Detroit Without Being A Jackass is described as: “The guidebook that you coastal transplants, wary suburbanites, unwitting gentrifiers, idealistic starter-uppers, and curious onlookers desperately need.”
Thigpen writes car reviews and industry news stories at A Girl’s Guide To Cars, where her author bio describes her as: “...a sassy south Florida lifestyle influencer with a love for travel, music and stylish/sleek cars. Additionally, she is obsessed with the growl of a souped-up engine and lives to drive fast cars.”
She recently published a post about African-American women in the auto industry where I found some more names for this list!
You won’t find Ramsey on Twitter but you can follow his car coverage at Autoblog where he’s an Associate Editor. Rumor has it he might be working on a book as well.
Ross doesn’t cover cars primarily, but he did do a great little series on Jalopnik about his Corvair restoration dubbed “Project Mongoose.” Read parts One, Two, Three, and Four when you get a chance! You can get a better idea of other things Ross is up to on his website.
Banks is the woman behind Philadelphia’s Girls Auto Clinic, which employs many female auto technicians and has a very active Instagram. Banks is regularly cited as an entrepreneur and trailblazer. Listen to her interview on the Femcanic podcast to hear more of what she’s about.
Rawlins has quite a few car reviews on Automotive Rhythms.
Armstead’s covered cars for quite a few outlets. A little cursory researched turned up his byline at Traveling Dad, The Detroit Bureau, and Black Enterprise but if anyone has more recent links of his please drop them in the comments! Armstead is on Instagram too but hasn’t updated his feed in a while.
Welburn became General Motors’ chief designer in 2003, and you can read a fairly comprehensive bio on him here. That link includes an excerpt from an interview he did with Ward’s Auto World writer Drew Winter, on how he felt about being the first black person in such a role:
“It’s interesting because it’s something I don’t celebrate,”... “because to celebrate it means there are so many years it didn’t occur.… But I know it is very important. It can’t be ignored. I know it isn’t ignored, and I know there are a lot of people in the African-American community that really, really consider this something very significant, so I don’t take it lightly. If it has an effect on young people, then I think that’s great.”
Speaking of designers, Gilles is pretty well-known as FCA’s Head Of Design and boss of Dodge’s cool cars division SRT. He’s a major fixture in the car industry and you can find dozens of interviews of him online easily. But you can read an abridged version of his origin story, in his own words, in this post he did for one of Fiat Chrysler’s blogs a few years ago.
If you enjoy Jalopnik, you’ll dig the Rich Rebuilds YouTube channel. No affiliation, but I’d like to think the ethos is similar. Rich (he seems to want to keep his last name offline) spent six months building a Tesla out of two broken Teslas and documents his projects fixing EVs as an independent mechanic. Good stuff.
NASCAR’s only Black driver has been racing professionally for many years and competing in cars since childhood. For now, he’s probably going to be best-known for motivating the racing organization to ban the confederate flag. From a recent New York Times article:
And Wallace said he finally believed that the Confederate flag should not be flown at races because it represented hate, not heritage. Two days after telling CNN that, and hours before he raced his No. 43 Chevrolet with #BlackLivesMatter logos emblazoned on it, NASCAR banned the flag.
There is only 1 driver from an African American background at the top level of our sport..I am the 1. You’re not gonna stop hearing about “the black driver” for years. Embrace it, accept it and enjoy the journey..
You might have seen Classic car historian Donald Osbourne is on Jay Leno’s Garage. He also represents Automotive Valuation Services which does consulting, appraisal, museum curation, and all kinds of interesting work involving the valuation and preservation of old iron.
You’ll find Jones’ byline all over TEN publications (the Motor Trend family) but he’s probably best known for his truck knowledge as Diesel Power’s editor.
The man behind tuner shop Bisimoto has a great Instagram page where he shares behind-the-scenes clips of his incredible builds.
“More than a host,” says his Insta bio, but you probably know Hert from his Hoonigan videos. And maybe as the man behind the wacky second-gen RX-7 known as the “Twerkstallion.” He seems like a fun guy to have a beer with. Want to do that right now? Watch his epsiode of the Hoonigans ABW series!
The Forrest’s Auto Reviews YouTube channel is updated regularly with in-depth reviews of all kinds of cars from basic transport to wild high-horsepower customs.
Goodwin’s a Reviews Editor at CNET Road Show and has done a lot of car comparison testing for that site. Also, a Miata owner!
Automotive artist and custom car designer Steve Stanford’s drawings are incredible. You can see some of them on his Facebook page, and I’d recommend watching this quick profile on him from the eGarage YouTube channel.
Since the person behind the DoctaM3 YouTube channel doesn’t have his real name on any social media platforms I won’t try to put it on blast, but he most certainly is a real person with a lot of supercar content! He’s on Insta too.
Lawrence’s byline is all over the place. He recently published a story about Brehanna Daniels, the first Black woman to join a NASCAR pit crew for GEN. Read that one on Medium, and find Drew on Twitter as well.
Daniels is on Instagram herself, so you can follow her there for some behind-the-scenes on her life in NASCAR.
I said in my intro that this list wasn’t going to be exhaustive, but luckily Jalopnik has a great comment section which will hopefully be populated with even more names and links by the time you find this blog.