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We're Missing Davey Johnson

John Pearley Huffman
Photo credit: Davey G. Johnson/Facebook

From Car and Driver

At its core, Car and Driver is a happy escape. It's written to be amusing, it invites readers on adventures with exotic machinery driven in far-off places, and we generate test numbers that will fuel goofball debates for decades. But 10 days ago at this writing, our friend and contributor Davey G. Johnson disappeared. There's still hope he'll be found, but it's been long enough now that despair rides alongside it. Sometimes reality hits us hard.

Davey is, like all of you and all of us, enthusiastic about his pursuits. Beyond his love of things on two and four wheels, he has an encyclopedic knowledge of guitars and rock and roll, and an independent streak that had him regularly wandering around America on epic, solo drives and rides.

When he picked up a Honda CB1000R test bike in Southern California for a Motorcyclist assignment, no one was really surprised that he headed to Las Vegas and then up the mountainous spine of California back to his home in the Sacramento area. Avoiding the freeways, that's a ride of maybe 1000 miles. But even on a bike without a fairing, with radical changes in weather and altitude, it's a ride the 43-year-old Davey was up for, and not so different from many he had done before.

About all we know about Davey's disappearance is that on Wednesday, June 5, the bike he was riding was found parked at a rest area beside California Route 49 near the Mokelumne River with its key in the ignition, and with his gloves folded inside his helmet. The rest of his gear, including his laptop, phone, and wallet, were found alongside the riverbank and by a nearby feeder stream. He had texted a friend, appending a few photos, at around 8:30 that morning saying he was sitting near that creek. Anything beyond that is speculation.

I've written before about the importance of enthusiasm. But, as with all things, there are limitations to that. Cars can bring joy and satisfaction to your life, but it's sharing that enthusiasm with other people that delivers lasting happiness. The friendships we forge over a shared love of mechanical things will be and are among the strongest and tightest in our lives. It's easy for us, distracted by that shared love, to believe those friendships are about cars. Cars are just the means, not the substance of our bonds.


Car and Driver and automotive media in general is a large extended family. As much fussing and fighting that goes on within it, we're fused together by common passion and, often, parallel stories about how that passion developed. Ultimately, though, cars are just the icebreaker, and we are humans bonding with other humans.

And human beings who invest their souls in one another are vulnerable to harm. At Car and Driver, we've lost good friends before. Back in February 2000, when I was just starting to write for the magazine, we lost senior technical editor Don Schroeder when a modified Mercedes he was driving at high speed went off-track at a large oval in Texas.

Photo credit: Car and Driver

André Idzikowski, who wrangled cars and testing for 25 years, finally lost his battle with cancer in 2007. And the generation that established the legends-David E. Davis, Jr., Brock Yates, and a dozen others-have been passing from the scene. All of those losses still hurt.

Davey's disappearance is different. We already feel the loss, but we don't have closure. There's at least some chance we may never know what has happened with, or is still happening to, him. At this point, keeping our collective imaginations in check is the best way to maintain hope.

There's a lot of pride built into every aspect of Car and Driver today. We go about putting together the comparison tests, the feature stories, the news items, and the consumer advice with the dedication that comes with enthusiasm. But it's also a dedication that comes from the love for all the people who have worked for C/D over the years and the ones who are here now. The happiness here was earned by a lot of people.

Davey Johnson is our lost brother. We miss him in the same way that we miss Don, André, Brock, and David E. And we still want him back.

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