The Crittenden Automotive Library - Contact Us
The contact person for CarsAndRacingStuff.com/The Crittenden Automotive Library is Bill Crittenden.
: Bill Crittenden
: The Crittenden Automotive Library
The Crittenden Automotive Library Personnel
As written by CarsAndRacingStuff.com/The Crittenden Automotive Library owner Bill Crittenden...
About Us? There's not much of an "us" to speak of. However, most operations with this sort of page seem to refer to it as an "About Us" page. And if I said the page was "About Me" you'd expect it to be about, well, myself (and not about this Library).
My name is Bill Crittenden
. A 1999 graduate of Universal Technical Institute (Automotive Technology) and 2007/2010 Newsletter Editor of IPMS/C.A.R.S. in Miniature, I am the sole operator of The Crittenden Automotive Library and CarsAndRacingStuff.com. I organize & compile the Library information, publish it and maintain the functionality of the website. This website is not my "day job," although I actually work at night. My occupation helps me develop computer skills that have made administering the Library easier and the skills learned in creating the Library have helped me on the job.
Oh, and one very important thing. I'm incapable of writing anything short. As you will now see...
There are others who don't have an official position with the Library but whose support has been very important:
My father, Dave Crittenden
, a retired Signode strapping tool engineer with several patents to his name, who took me to Rockford Speedway and Wilmot and The Milwaukee Mile more times than I can remember, taught me how to drive, and supported my automotive education at Universal Technical Institute in addition to the general non-automotive responsibilities of being my dad, Webelos Cub Scout Den Leader, and so much more. I credit my interest in all things mechanical, my ability to think in three dimensions, and my ability to read technical writing to being his son. From him I learned how to read blueprints, which was a dying skill in the days when AutoCAD was replacing the drafting table but has oddly enough come in handy doing historical research into things that were built before computers were small enough to fit on desktops.
Leaving home in my early twenties I married Heidi Walczak
. She was the daughter of a "car guy" (more on that later) and so quite a few of our activities involved cars and NASCAR. Just a month younger than myself, she's currently a Personnel Manager for a Walmart store. Her first car was a Chevrolet Chevette woody, and since then she's owned an early production first-year Chrysler PT Cruiser. One of her dream cars is a 1972 Chevrolet Chevelle, one of which was supposed to be her first car until it was damaged in a flood. In her spare time she scrapbooks under the design name Luckybug Creations
She unknowingly became an early photographic contributor to the Library by taking pictures of our trips to the Chicago Auto Show, NASCAR races at Chicagoland Speedway, and a few car museums years before the website or Library were even created. Before we went digital, when my trial and error method would have cost us film and developing fees, Heidi was the one carrying the camera. Tolerant and supportive of my "hobby" she has allowed me to turn most of our basement into an office packed with computer equipment, Hot Wheels cars, a model car building desk, the storage racks for hundreds of old car magazines, several file cabinets of car brochures and newspaper clippings, a bookshelf filled with old grease-smudged manuals for cars I never even drove, and all that decades-old paper that gives the basement that certain musty smell that newer construction homes such as our 2005 duplex usually take much longer to develop. I thank her for her patience and tolerance of my obsessive love of cars.
As I said, she was the daughter of a car guy, and through her I met John Walczak
. Now a retired mortgage banker, he is also a former short track stock car driver. He was a track champion in his class at Lake Geneva Speedway in Wisconsin, occasionally an over-the-wall pit crew man for J.D. McDuffie, and since leaving stock car racing he's been in the model car decal business and held offices for various model car organizations over the years, most notably IPMS/C.A.R.S. in Miniature. He's a living encyclopedia of model cars and has helped point out some very interesting photographic subjects I might otherwise have missed.
I'd also like to mention Chris Knight of Knight Motorsports Management. In a time when my site was just getting started, he provided content, advice, and the inspiration to believe that my little basement operation could succeed on a higher level. Of course, I'm literally still operating out of a basement but figuratively The Crittenden Automotive Library is a much more respectable entity.
Organization Makes the Difference
The Crittenden Automotive Library is indexed in the way it is, with topic pages found by clicking links from lists rather than running a search and information coded directly onto the pages instead of being pulled from a database because I actually wanted to bring a human touch back to finding information online. Originally, before search engines automatically swept the internet for every available website and compiled what they found into massive searchable databases, human-created and human-managed directories were the way to find your way online. While search brings nearly the entire internet to your fingertips in less than a second's time, it also sometimes brings you parts of the internet that you weren't looking for. A search for a Packard Executive usually results in a list of websites about the executive management of the HP (Hewlett-Packard) computer company. Searching Flickr by image tag is also unreliable, as it depends upon what tags are entered by the used. Don't get me wrong, searches are very useful and definitely have their place in the online world (a Google-based site search feature is available for the entire CarsAndRacingStuff.com domain), however I feel that by organizing the information myself onto each page in an order that I hope makes sense to a user rather than organizing it by how a program decides what is most popular or "relevant" to the search term actually helps users find what they are looking for.
A human-created organizational structure where everything has a specific place results in being able to find information much more quickly, or in many cases helps confirm that a certain piece of information is not available at the library, but it's very time consuming to create and maintain. Which is why search engines were created in the first place. The Crittenden Automotive Library, as such, does not contain as much information as could be added in the time available if were just tagged with various keywords and uploaded. Hopefully, though, the time spent organizing the information will result in a more useful, if a bit smaller, library.
The Purpose of the Library
The purpose of The Crittenden Automotive Library is to be a useful resource of free automotive information. That's the simplest way I can state it. But there's more to it...
Preserving the present for future historical research
What happened yesterday, what happens today and what will happen tomorrow are likely not historically important. They might be, someday, but the events are still too current to be "history" just yet. However, without people preserving records of current events and photographs of current automobiles, historians of the future will not have the proper resources with which to work. Every historic document is available today because someone before us preserved it, including all the public domain information I've published from the very earliest days of automobiles going back into the 1890's. We would have so much more had people of the past been able to preserve more than they did.
Preserving all of automotive history
Really, there are plenty of books already on the Ford Mustang and the Chevrolet Corvette. They are great cars, but they are but a small slice of the automotive history pie. While a small percentage of the driving public actually uses such cars on a regular basis, the rest of the world is getting around on Hyundai Accents, Vauxhall Astras, Toyota Camrys and working out of white Ford Econoline vans. While a lot of preservation centers around what is interesting (because the reality is that a 1970 Chevelle SS is much more interesting than a 1982 Citation) it paints a narrow and distorted view of automotive history.
Assisting others in our purpose
While one of the stated purposes of The Crittenden Automotive Library is to "preserve all of automotive history," it's just not physically possible for one man to do, even if I worked on it 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Just as brick-and-mortar libraries form networks and assist each other because no one library has every book ever published (not even the enormous Library of Congress), anyone who seeks to create a unique automotive information resource library and contribute new information (rather than just copying what I have done) will find assistance and advice available from an experienced colleague.
The Library has always been and will always be free of charge and available for the open exchange of information relating to the topics covered. The Crittenden Automotive Library is not
a non-profit organization, we are structured this way so that we can reinvest our income to grow and by growing I mean providing more and more information to our readers.
The current main geographic area for my photography is McHenry County, Illinois. Based in Woodstock, at the center of the county, most of the events I attend are in the city of McHenry, Woodstock, Richmond, Crystal Lake, Lake in the Hills, or the surrounding area. The closest race tracks to my home are Rockford Speedway, Wilmot Raceway, The Milwaukee Mile and Chicagoland Speedway. The Library has information and photographs from 6 continents, but most of the exclusive original content will be from the northwest suburbs of Chicago.
Operations are, so far, mostly English. It's the only language I know fluently enough to be sure that I'm really reading and saying what I think I'm reading and saying. However, I have sections of articles in Italian, Spanish, German, Chinese, and Serbian. There is NO language barrier for content, and I'm more interested in what people are saying than what language they're saying it in. Thanks to several web-based translation programs (such as Google Translate) I'm able to properly identify and classify foreign-language content, provided it's in written form. It should be understood, and obvious if you've browsed some of the Library before coming to this page, that most of the terminology is in the American version of the English language. Again, it's just because that's what I'm most familiar with, however, you will see British English terminology used in many of the articles (which are posted unedited) as many of them are from the UK.
Sponsorship & Advertising
We recover our expenses mostly through advertising and occasionally from our "Tip Jar" (like the tip jar at the donut shop it's not a tax deductible donation - hence the name - but it's always appreciated and helps us continue the service). Any additional income gets reinvested into the Library, either in the form of technology or time (I recently upgraded from a 15" CRT computer monitor to a widescreen LCD thanks to one generous donation, and the wide screen allows me to process racing results faster by having more information on the screen at one time). In terms of time, if I make enough sponsorship money I can leave my "day job" and make the Library my occupation. I wouldn't do this to sit on a beach sipping from an umbrella drink (although I reserve the right to take occasional vacations) but so that I can spend the time I am out of the house for my current job, currently 50 hours a week counting commuting, on new material for the Library instead of the couple of hours here and there that I currently spend on it.
Library Content Sources
Let me make one thing clear: The Crittenden Automotive Library is NOT intended to compete with Wikipedia or any other type of basic automotive information source that gives a short "biography" on each car. We are not here to copy it or replace them, either. At first glance, topic pages at The Crittenden Automotive Library have a similar look to Wikipedia pages. They're mostly white, there's a left-hand navigational bar with a background image, a topic title at the top of the main section, a summary of the topic and more detailed information organized into subheadings. Content from Wikipedia, Wikinews, and Wikimedia Commons is frequently found in the Library. What sets the Library apart from Wikipedia, however, are three things. One is the scope of the information. The Crittenden Automotive Library is limited to topics regarding automobiles, motorcycles, trucks, similar road vehicles and the roads they drive on. An encyclopedia features summaries of its topics, while this Library publishes all available information on a topic. While some of the Library's information comes from Wikipedia much of it comes from Wikipedia's companion projects - Wikimedia Commons, Wikisource and Wikinews - and doesn't appear on the Wikipedia page for a particular topic. While they are an immensely valuable source, it is a very different type of resource. As different as an encyclopedia and a library, which is what I hoped to convey with the name The Crittenden Automotive Library.
I believe that commentary and press releases can also be important to history. Whether I personally believe them to be biased or wrong, I still believe they have value to historians as an indication of public opinion at the time they are written or of a company's view of its own products or services. I also believe advertisements have value to the overall body of knowledge, and as such press releases and other advertisements are also welcome as Library material. I'd like to point out that any decent community library will have a copy of the Bible, the Torah, the Quran, and Darwin's Origin of Species...they simply provide as much information that they can with the resources they have available and leave it up to the library patron to decide which one is truth and which ones are fiction for themselves.
About Us -
Due to the enormous volume of information available most of the lists on the site are works in progress. They are great for seeing what information or products are available or what events have happened but the absence of information or a line item on a list should not be interpreted that something did not exist or did not happen. It probably just means we haven't gotten around to adding it yet.
Unless otherwise noted, photo captions are from the photographer or source, and not from The Crittenden Automotive Library.
To notify The Crittenden Automotive Library of errors, suggest topics, contribute information or to ask a question e-mail us.