• 07 Sep 2023 11:37 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    We at MAMA are proud to have Zack Pradel among us and he’s the perfect choice for our quarterly Member Spotlight. Zack is a relatively new member of MAMA, but his energy and enthusiasm help make us what we are. You may have met Zack at the Spring Rally, but if you didn’t, or if you want to know him a little better, we’ve got you covered.

    MAMA: How did you get started in the automotive media industry?

    Zack: I always had a love for cars from a very young age. My dad also loved filmmaking as a hobby, so there was always a camera in the house. When I became a teenager, I managed to pair my interests together, making videos about cars. I then attended Aurora University and got a degree in Communication, doubling down on my career path. 

    MAMA: How did you find MAMA?

    Zack: One day, a handsome fellow named Robby DeGraff followed me on Twitter. We started chatting about the industry, and he recommended that I check out MAMA. I wanted to wait until I was 25, and on my 25th birthday I applied! 

    MAMA: What’s been your favorite vehicle you’ve reviewed?

    ZACK: It’s a tough choice since I have reviewed 1,200+ cars. I tend to lean towards cars from the 1980s and 1990s. If I had to pick, it would be the 1993 Nissan Skyline GTS25t. I filmed it around sunset on the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina. Safe to say it was pure bliss. 

    MAMA: What do your friends and family say about your job?

    Zack: At first, my family was very hesitant. Which totally makes sense. I was earning pennies doing what was essentially a hobby. Now, they understand and are proud of me, although I still don’t think they know how it works. It clicked for my Mom when I got recognized in public in front of her!

    MAMA:What are your long-term career goals?

    Zack: Do the same thing but… More. I love reviewing cars and I don’t see myself stopping. I just want to expand my reach, and expand my collection of reviews. Spending a month in a different country to review their cars we never got here is the ultimate goal. Holdens? Peugeots? Tatras? Sign me up! 

    MAMA: What do you like to do for fun when you’re not working?

    Zack: The honest truth is that car reviews are still my hobby. I feel weird if I go more than two or three days without driving a new (to me) car. But when I do take time off, my girlfriend and I are trying to visit as many National Parks as we can. It’s her long time passion that I have fallen in love with over the last three years. We’ve done 18 so far, with an Acadia visit planned in September. 

    MAMA: Any advice to those looking to break into the auto industry?

    Zack: Just make the thing. Whether it’s a blog post, video, podcast, or any other form of media, just make something. Your first one is going to be terrible. Your second one won’t be great. But your third one will be better, and your fourth will be even better than that. The best lessons I’ve learned have been from making the things I want to make, and slowly honing my skills over weeks, not minutes. There will always be things to learn and skills you can improve! 

    MAMA: What was your first car?

    Zack: The first car I purchased myself was a 1985 Mazda RX-7 the week I turned 18. I loved that car and it was the catalyst for me to start my YouTube channel. Six months later, I blew up the engine, and decided to swap it with a newer, fuel-injected rotary engine. Without any instructions, it was a trial-by-fire learning experience, but it worked! I owned that car for five more years after that. 

    MAMA: What is your dream car?

    Zack: What day of the week is it? I can’t stick to one car. One day I want an E30 M3, one day I want a Mustang Shelby GT350. But one constant seems to be an old air cooled Porsche 911. A 930 Turbo would be lovely.

    MAMA: Tell us about something adventurous you have done.

    Zack: Last fall I took my 2019 Mazda 3 Hatchback down a “4x4 Only” trail. I ended up 3-wheeling it and fording a small river, but the thing did it all easier than I expected. In hindsight, it probably wasn’t smart to do so with no support vehicle and two hours from any kind of cell service, but hey, it all worked out, right? (Minus the 4-foot gouge on the bottom of my Mazda from a particular boulder on the trail.)

    Here’s a link to one of Zack’s most favorite recent reviews on his YouTube channel: 2007 Lotus Exige S Review - I Found The PERFECT Sports Car!

  • 10 Aug 2023 9:21 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    With approximately 30 MAMA members in attendance at the Chicago Automobile Trade Association (CATA) headquarters in Oak Brook IL and another 12 watching on-line, MAMA Vice President Robby Degraff introduced Monica Gorgas (Nautilus Brand Manager), Kelly Wysocki (Lincoln Communication), and Anika Salceda-Wycoco (Manager, Lincoln Communications) to the group.  The topic on hand was the introduction of the absolutely beautiful -inside and out- all-new 2024 Lincoln Nautilus.  

    The Lincoln team explained that the brand is really focusing its “sanctuary” theme for the driver and passengers where everything is geared, not only to luxury, but to the enjoyment and the “revitalization” of the drive. Additionally, the new Nautilus is aimed at younger buyers with lots of on-board tech and a hybrid powertrain option. Some key features of the Nautilus include:

    • Two engine choices: a 2.0L turbo 4-cylinder producing 250hp/275 lb.-ft torque mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission OR a 2.0L turbo hybrid version with 310hp total system power coupled to a CVT transmission.

    • The exterior gets a sleeker look with a more prominent grille and less chrome accents. The door handles now sit higher where the glass and sheet metal meet. The new Nautilus is a few inches longer and wider than the outgoing model, yet is actually lighter.

    • Arguably, the star feature of the new Nautilus is the full wrap interior curved display screen that sits up high and spans the entire width of the SUV.  This eliminated the need for a head-up display and really gives an open and immersive feel to the cockpit. 

    After the slideshow, the spotlight was then turned to MAMA members for a Q&A session, followed by everyone getting to explore the two examples of Nautilus prototypes. Monica Gorgas, Nautilus Brand Manager, provided vehicle walkarounds and demos to MAMA members of the redesigned Nautilus’s cutting-edge technology and sumptuous features. This was a great way to get inside the vehicles and really see and touch everything the new SUVs have to offer.  At the end of the presentation, all attending members were given a sample of one of the three new digital diffuser fragrances available in the Nautilus.  

    We cannot thank Lincoln enough for bringing the all-new Nautilus to the luncheon presentation ahead of its official release into showrooms.  This gives MAMA members a huge advantage to be able to create content and showcase these vehicles before they are even available to the general public - adding value and importance to our organization. 

  • 08 Aug 2023 11:26 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    All of MAMA is mourning the passing of Enrique Ramirez, a longtime MAMA member and supporter. He shifted into the high gear of the sky on Saturday, August 5, 2023, at his home after a 5 ½ year journey with cancer. Enrique was born in Los Angeles in 1969 and moved to Wisconsin in 2016 to join Road America as Director of Business Services.

    Enrique was passionate about cars and racing. He could always be found at events like the Chicago Auto Show, race weekends at Road America, and he was a regular participant at the One Lap of America. He drove in this event 14 times, including the last three with his son, Eric.

    Enrique was also a runner and participated in the Ragnar Relays six times and was the co-creator of the 4 Miles of Fitness event at the MAMA Spring Rally.

    Enrique is survived by his wife, Suzanne, seven children, and one grandchild. There will be a Celebration of Life at Road America this Wednesday, August 9th at noon. Donations can be made in Enrique’s name to his charity of choice, The American Cancer Society.

    For more information, please call Eric at 608-477-0771.

    The picture is Enrique and his son, Eric, celebrating their 2021 class win in the One Lap of America."

  • 08 Jun 2023 11:44 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    ELKHART LAKE, Wis.--The Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) hosted the 2023 Rally May 23-25 at Road America. 100 journalists put nearly 90 of the the industry’s latest vehicles through their paces including on-track, autocross, street drives, and a technical off-road course sponsored by Jeep. This year, MAMA added an all-new Enthusiasts’ Paddock and content creation sessions.


    MAMA’s 160 members in attendance started with breakfast, sponsored by Ford highlighting the Mustang. After the first morning of track touring laps, street drives, and off-roading, the group fueled up with lunch sponsored by Dodge when they were briefed on the Dodge Hornet. 


    Afterwards, driving continued and later that afternoon a group of members participated in the third annual “4 Miles of Fitness,” sponsored by Kia, where they enjoyed the legendary track by walking, running, or biking. Honda wrapped up the day with a dinner presentation on the latest safety technology in the 2023 Honda Pilot.

    Day 2 offered up sunny skies and a breakfast presentation on the Hyundai IONIQ 6. Street drives and an autocross competition followed. Lunch, sponsored by Our Next Energy, marked the conclusion of the event.


    Immediate post-rally results indicate nearly 500 posts, articles, videos, broadcast coverage and more reaching 157M with 1.24M video views and over 24,000 engagements (metrics tracked by Meltwater). More than ever before, Rally has proven to be a robust content generator for media members. 

    This year’s rally also marked the second year of MAMA’s Favorites awards. Members chose the following winners from seven categories.

    MAMA’s Favorite Family Vehicle: Kia Telluride X-Pro

    MAMA’s Favorite Luxury Vehicle: Genesis G90

    MAMA’s Favorite Off-Roader: Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 20th Anniversary Edition

    MAMA’s Favorite Pickup Truck: Ford Maverick Tremor

    MAMA’s Favorite Performance Vehicle: BMW M2

    MAMA’s Favorite Plug-In Vehicle: Hyundai IONIQ 6

    MAMA’s Favorite Affordable Vehicle: Chevrolet Trax


    About the Midwest Automotive Media Association

    Founded in 1991, the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) comprises about 240 automotive journalists and industry professionals from approximately 25 states and the District of Columbia. Though based in the Chicago area, MAMA welcomes members from all over. The organization’s purpose is to provide a forum for newsworthy people, current issues and new products in the auto industry.

  • 01 Feb 2023 9:53 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA), an organization comprised of automotive journalists and related industry professionals, elected its 2023 Board of Directors during its annual January business meeting. 

    The newly elected board includes MAMA President Robert Duffer and Senior Vice President Robby DeGraff. Cherise Threewitt moves into the role of Vice President of Membership and Harvey Briggs becomes the  President Emeritus. 

    Kelley Enright, Treasurer, and Jim OBrill, Communications Director, continue with their second year term. Afaf Farah joins the board as Secretary.

    2023 Board: Cherise Threewitt, Robert Duffer, Kelley Enright, Jim OBrill, Harvey Briggs, and Robby DeGraff. Not Pictured: Afaf Farah

    During the annual business meeting it was reported that the association, which was founded in 1991, currently maintains a membership of 263 automotive journalists and industry professionals serving in the automotive industry or related fields.

    It was also announced that the winners of MAMA’s annual Family Vehicle of the Year and Luxury Family Vehicle of the Year awards will be revealed at the Chicago Auto Show MAMA Breakfast on February 9.

    The finalists for Family Vehicle of the Year are the  Hyundai IONIQ5,  Hyundai Palisade, and the Ford F-150 Lightning. For Luxury Family Vehicle of the Year, the finalists are the Genesis G90, Genesis GV60, and the Lincoln Navigator.

    For more information on the Midwest Automotive Media Association and related news, visit

  • 19 Dec 2022 3:55 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On November 29, Toyota presented details on the brand’s upcoming large sedan to 55 MAMA members via Zoom. MAMA President Harvey Briggs introduced Amy Chao, Senior Planning Analyst for Toyota's Vehicle Marketing Department.

    The Toyota Crown midsize sedan is all new for the 2023 model year, after a 50-year absence from the U.S. market. It will serve as Toyota’s new flagship sedan, with unique styling unlike anything else in its class – and unlike any other Toyota currently in the United States. With a fastback-like silhouette, a raised ride height, and massive wheels, the Crown intends to stand out from the crowd. 

    The Crown features standard all-wheel drive and the choice of two powertrains, both electrified. Base XLE and Limited models get a 2.5-liter four-cylinder hybrid powertrain, good for 236 combined horsepower; top-tier Platinum models come powered by Toyota’s new Hybrid MAX system (introduced to MAMA members via Zoom in April) featuring a 2.4-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine with a rating of 340 combined horsepower.

    Keep an eye out for the Toyota Crown, as well as other Toyota models, at the 2023 MAMA Spring Rally in May!

    Key specs and features of the 2023 Toyota Crown include:

    • Elevated ride height

    • Standard full-time all-wheel drive

    • Choice of two hybrid powertrains

    • Fuel economy estimates of up to 41 mpg combined

    • 12.3-inch infotainment display with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

    • Complimentary ToyotaCare standard maintenance for two years or 25,000 miles

  • 12 Oct 2022 1:58 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Chicago Automobile Trade Association (CATA), the area’s new-car dealer association and producer of the Chicago Auto Show, successfully concluded Chicago Drives Electric—its first-ever electric vehicle experiential test drive and educational event. Due to the event’s overwhelming success among EV intenders, organizers plan to bring Chicago Drives Electric indoors to the 2023 Chicago Auto Show this February, 11-20, at McCormick Place. 

    In alignment with National Drive Electric week, Chicago Drives Electric aimed to raise awareness of the many benefits of all-electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles and help consumers understand how EVs can fit individual needs and lifestyles. Featured brands and vehicles included: Alfa Romeo Tonale; Chrysler Pacifica PHEV; Chevrolet Bolt EV; Chevrolet Bolt EUV; Ford F-150 Lightning; Ford Mustang Mach-E; Ford E-transit; Hyundai IONIQ 5; Hyundai Santa Fe PHEV; Hyundai Tucson PHEV; Hyundai Kona EV; Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe PHEV; Jeep Wrangler 4xe PHEV; Kia EV6; Volkswagen ID.4; Volvo C40 Recharge; Volvo XC40 Recharge; Volvo XC60 Recharge PHEV; and Volvo XC90 Recharge PHEV.

    The event kicked off with a media day co-hosted by the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA). Over 65 MAMA members attended along with additional broadcast media to cover the event. Alfa Romeo kicked off the day with a presentation by Larry Dominique, Senior VP and Head of Alfa Romeo on the new Tonale. Immediately following was a presentation from Escalent Research's KC Boyce regarding the state of the EV Revolution. Two informative panel discussions and a lunch presentation from were also part of the day's activities. Journalists were able to get behind the wheel of the aforementioned vehicles for some direct EV comparisons. Following media day, Chicagoland new car dealers and consumers were invited to attend the rest of Chicago Drives Electric.

    In addition to putting interested parties behind the wheel of some of the latest EVs, event organizers brought in a variety of experts to help break down the various aspects of EV ownership and tackle complex topics such as range anxiety; at-home charging solutions; on-the-go charging and infrastructure; tax credits and incentives; and where people can begin their search. On-hand experts included, Charge Enterprises, ComEd and Powering Chicago.

    Organizers anticipated a range of 750-1,000 attendees. Over the course of the weekend, the event netted 947 total registered drivers and nearly 3,000 in-vehicle experiences, surpassing expectations. The buzz generated from the event carried over to social media; Chicago Drives Electric reached 4.5 million, according to initial results from media measurement firm Meltwater. 

    “We invited previous Chicago Auto Show ticket purchasers, in the form of one email, to preregister for their preferred date and two-hour timeslot,” said CATA Chairman JC Phelan. “We were shocked to find all the timeslots filled overnight! The response and interest were overwhelming, in a very good way, which is why we’re looking to enhance our indoor EV track at the Chicago Auto Show and incorporate elements of Chicago Drives Electric including consumer education and resources.” 

    “We’re planning to triple the size of our indoor EV track, adding more brands and vehicles, and building out the surrounding area with educational exhibits and panel discussions featuring industry experts,” said Chicago Auto Show Co-General Manager Jennifer Morand. “All of that rich content will translate well to social media where we’ll take in-person panel discussions and broadcast them live on our Facebook and Instagram channels, create educational Instagram Reels and TikTok videos, and partner with key influencers in the space to take over our social media channels throughout the show.”  

    “Chicago Drives Electric validated to us the public’s enthusiasm to further their knowledge about EVs,” continued Morand. “There are many complexities associated with the topic, which is why personal service and education is needed now more than ever, and the Chicagoland new-car dealers are dedicated to assisting consumers in their EV journey.” 

    According to the 2022 EVForward Dealer DeepDive study by independent analytics firm Escalent, the dealership will remain a pivotal part of an EV intender's shopping experience. The DeepDive survey found that 74 percent of respondents prefer to buy an EV at a dealership, rather than from an auto manufacturer or third party. This research proves that the franchise dealership model works just as well for EVs as it does for traditional vehicles. 

    “The Chicagoland dealers have been behind the Chicago Auto Show for nearly a century, and we are so proud to lead the way in this EV revolution into the future,” said Phelan. “This next stage of EV adoption will look more like getting average consumers into mass-market vehicles they depend on to get to work and manage family life. Dealers will remain critical in this process to bring EVs to scale.”

  • 07 Jun 2022 10:54 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    The Midwest Automotive Media Association Hosted 87 Journalists for the 2022 Rally at Road America

    ELKHART LAKE, Wis.--The Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) hosted the 2022 MAMA Rally on May 24-26 at Road America. Over the course of two days, 87 journalists working in automotive and related industries put a variety of the industry’s latest vehicles through their paces including on-track, autocross, and scenic street drives. Due to popular demand, the technical off-road course sponsored by Jeep was expanded to a full day. 

    Auto manufacturer partners and sponsors provided nearly 65 vehicles for journalists to test and evaluate over the two-day event.

    The sky was cloudy, but MAMA members were eager to get the first day started after a breakfast presentation of Hyundai’s IONIQ 5. After the first morning of track touring laps, street drive evaluations, and muddy all-terrain off-road challenges, the group fueled up with lunch sponsored by Mazda when they were briefed on the new CX-50. 


    That afternoon, after the track went cold, a brave group of MAMA members participated in the second annual “4 Miles of Fitness,” sponsored by Kia. This event is an opportunity to enjoy the legendary track from a new perspective, walking, running, or by bicycle.

    Later that evening, Subaru hosted dinner with a presentation on the new Solterra.


    Day 2 offered up sunny skies and participants were greeted at breakfast by the new Nissan Z, with street drives and an autocross competition to follow. Lunch, sponsored by, marked the conclusion of the event.


    Preliminary voting for MAMA’s annual Family Vehicle of the Year (FVOTY) and Luxury Family Vehicle of the Year (LFVOTY) Awards also took place. The FVOTY finalists include the 2022 Hyundai IONIQ 5, 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning, and 2023 Mazda CX-50. LFVOTY finalists include the 2023 Genesis GV60, 2022 Lincoln Navigator, and 2022 BMW i4.

    A final round of online voting will take place later this year to determine the overall winner in each category. Winners in both categories will be announced at the 2023 Chicago Auto Show in February.

    This year’s rally also marked the introduction of five new awards to recognize vehicles across a wider range of categories, including vehicles that are not new or redesigned.

    “MAMA members have strong opinions, so we decided to give them another opportunity to express themselves with the MAMA’s Favorite awards.” said Harvey Briggs, MAMA President. “This diverse group of winners highlights the broad background and varied interests of our membership.”

    Members chose their “favorite” candidates in each category from among the vehicles available to drive at the rally, with the following results.

    MAMA’s Favorite Off-Roader: Gold: 2022 Jeep Wrangler 392 Xtreme Recon, Silver: 2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4xe, Bronze: 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk 4xe

    MAMA’s Favorite Street Vehicle: Gold: 2023 Nissan Z, Silver: 2023 Mazda CX-50, Bronze: 2022 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle Hybrid

    MAMA’s Favorite Performance Vehicle: Gold: 2022 Hyundai Elantra N, Silver: 2022 BMW M240i xDrive Coupe (Tie), Silver: 2022 Toyota GR86 (Tie), Bronze: 2022 Mazda MX-5 Club RF (to qualify vehicles had to be run on the track or autocross course)

    MAMA’s Favorite Luxury Vehicle: Gold: 2022 Genesis GV70, Silver: 2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer, Bronze: 2022 Lincoln Navigator Black Label

    MAMA’s Favorite BEV: Gold: 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning, Silver: 2023 Genesis GV60, Bronze: 2022 Hyundai IONIQ 5


  • 07 Apr 2022 9:17 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On April 6, Toyota presented details on the brand’s latest hybrid technology to 38 MAMA members via Zoom. MAMA VP Rob Duffer introduced Jordan Choby, VP of Powertrain Controls at Toyota. 

    The i-FORCE MAX hybrid system debuts on the new 2022 Toyota Tundra, providing the beefy truck with impressive horsepower and torque. The mission, Choby said, was to make the Tundra a “premium towing machine.” In the early days of development, the idea of a hybrid truck made people nervous, and the Toyota team was determined that they “don’t want a Prius truck.” The solution? Step up the Tundra’s luxury features and “double down on towing,” ensuring the new Tundra retains – or strengthens – its reputation within the large truck segment. 

    Choby said the i-FORCE MAX architecture is very modular, designed to be used with different engines and transmissions, with the goal of increasing electrification in the brand’s stable. It will be the sole powertrain on the redesigned 2023 Sequoia SUV. The system drives “powerfully and naturally,” according to Choby, and as the Tundra was designed specifically for the North American market, the team branched out into more areas of the country to evaluate its performance in different environments.

    Keep an eye out for the Toyota Tundra, GR Supra, and GR86, as well as other Toyota and Lexus models, at the MAMA Spring Rally in May!

    Key specs and features of the 2022 Toyota Tundra i-FORCE MAX include:

    • Twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 engine paired to a motor generator system located between the engine and 10-speed automatic transmission

    • 437 horsepower (an increase of 48 horsepower over the non-hybrid i-FORCE model)

    • 583 pound-feet of torque (an increase of 104 pound-feet over the non-hybrid i-FORCE model)

    • Maximum towing capacity of 11,350 pounds

    • Fuel economy ratings of up to 19 mpg city/22 highway/21 combined in 4x4 models

  • 18 Mar 2022 3:56 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    With 33 MAMA members logged on to Zoom, MAMA President Harvey Briggs and Vice President Rob Duffer introduced Carley Bly, Senior Analyst for Lexus. Bly introduced the fully redesigned 2022 LX 600, the flagship model of the brand’s SUV lineup. 

    Bly explained that the LX redesign focused on improving known pain points from the model’s previous generation, such as the outdated technology and unimpressive fuel economy. Lexus also improved functionality with fold-flat third-row seats and more efficient use of cargo space.

    In a growing segment, Bly said, Lexus has a big opportunity and plans to double the brand’s market share. However, Lexus anticipates some of those new buyers will be “Land Cruiser orphans,” moving upmarket to Lexus because Toyota has discontinued the mechanically identical, but less luxurious, legendary Land Cruiser off-roader. Lexus also plans to appeal to younger affluent couples, and features like newly-available 22-inch wheels and upgraded technology should support that goal.

    Though the Lexus LX 600 has already started to arrive on dealer lots, the brand plans to raise awareness with an upcoming national TV campaign, which Lexus has not done for the LX in 14 years.

    As usual, MAMA members couldn’t wait for the Q&A session, despite the familiar caveat that Lexus could not discuss future product. In conclusion, those of us who have already seen the new LX 600 got a great refresher with the opportunity to ask questions, and the rest of us are even more ready for our first encounter. We can’t reveal specifics yet, but Bly and the Lexus team are excited to participate in the 2022 MAMA Spring Rally.

    Key specs and features of the 2022 Lexus LX 600 include:

    • An all-new 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine and 10-speed automatic transmission
    • Standard dual touchscreen infotainment interface
    • Five available trims, including the all-new F SPORT and Ultra Luxury models
    • Available 5- and 7-passenger configurations
    • Available 25-speaker Mark Levinson audio system
    • Standard and available off-road technology and hardware
    • Towing capacity of up to 8,000 pounds

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