Hello Jalopnik readers! I’m Lalita Chemello, the new Managing Editor. Long time reader, first-time writer.
Where to start? Born and bred in the Motor City, I grew up at the track and in garages. I blame my father for my life path (he’s on the left in my feature photo), but in the best way possible.
Aside from his single-parent need to take my brothers and I to the garage with him every weekend, his work at Roush, and their program with PPG and the IndyCar pace car was the game changer. The 1994 IndyCar Marlboro 500 at Michigan International Speedway is where my dad encouraged me to meet all the female pace car drivers (when that was still a thing), and where my two younger brothers and I were treated to a ride in a Cadillac pace car with Wally Dallenbach, Sr. behind the wheel, cowboy hat and all.
I was hooked. This experience also launched my campaign to be a pace car driver when I grew up. And many early experiences realizing no one understood what I was talking about.
I never became a pace car driver, or raced cars on a track, but here I am. My first salaried job was working in the archives at Crain Communications, Inc. in Detroit, specifically working with collections for Autoweek (where I met our Editor-in-Chief, Rory) and Automotive News. From there, I wrote for a Chevrolet advertorial magazine, New Roads, and launched two media platforms, GpGrl.com, and MiMoto Podcast, which I had run with my husband.
Somewhere in there I also co-hosted a live motorsports podcast called The Extra Mile with I.E. Sports Radio for three years. You may have also come across my work in Porsche Club of America’s Panorama; my first feature was an introduction to Formula E as Porsche arrived in the paddock. I have been extremely fortunate to have done quite a few articles for them since. I am also the Chairman of Vehicle Staging for the Concours d’Elegance of America in Plymouth, MI. I’ve volunteered there for the last decade.
For not having had a full-time job writing in several years, I have managed to do some fairly cool things on my own, like meet Mario Andretti and joke with him about almost running us over at a previous Indy 500. Two years later I had a press pass for my own site to cover the Indy 500. I took to the track at MIS a few years ago in an actual, albeit older IndyCar.
My 30th birthday was celebrated at the Rolex 24 at DAYTONA, and my husband and I nearly eloped at this year’s Goodwood Revival. We unfortunately didn’t make it, thanks to the pandemic. Instead we did a mini-honeymoon road trip for a fall drive along Michigan’s M-22. We have hopes to eventually make it to Goodwood and or the 24 hours of Le Mans soon. From there, the list goes on, and I hope to add much more to it while here.
In my garage at the moment is my 2017 Volkswagen GLI complete with DSG my 2019 Honda Rebel 300. My husband mostly drives our 2013 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon (2-door, manual, if you’d like to know), and a 2019 Suzuki SV650x. We get bored easily though and these could very well change. The only thing holding us back right now is garage space (note to large garage owners selling soon in Michigan…).
I have an affinity for odd and notably disliked vehicles. One of my dream cars that I did own, was a 2002 Pontiac Aztek—which did not have the grey trim and moldings. I’ve also owned a 2015 Fiat 500 Sport, a 1999 Mercedes E320 wagon, and my first ride, a 1992 Chevy Caprice station wagon. Tiny and odd British, French and German cars make up my list of “somedays,” with a sprinkling of the occasional Studebaker and SAAB.
I also dream of owning a Lexus LC 500 for mostly so I can get a license plate that reads “ALSO LC.”
And a quick shout out to the greats that made my being here possible. You all know who you are.