MAMA’s first president, Jim Mateja, played an important role in Robert Duffer joining MAMA back in 2014. Duffer, who at the time was the Chicago Tribune’s Autos editor, brought back the veteran automotive journalist as a freelance writer, and with Mateja’s return, Duffer also got a mentor who was “always nudging me to be a part of MAMA.”
Thankfully, Duffer listened to Mateja and joined MAMA. He later became a rally committee member, and today, he’s MAMA’s senior VP, working with MAMA President Harvey Briggs.
Duffer is a senior editor at The Car Connection. He lives in Action Heights, a suburb of Chicago more commonly known as Arlington Heights, with his two kids and a dog.
Q: What led you to accept the senior VP role?
A: With my professional life more solidified following the Tribune, and my personal life less chaotic with my kids getting older and my dog getting less dumb, I was overdue to give back to an organization that has given me so many unique opportunities. I also wanted the challenge of serving our member journalists as well as automotive partners in expanding our reach and creating unique programs, pandemic be damned, that benefit enthusiasts, consumers, and anyone else interested in four-wheel fun.
Q: What 2021 MAMA plans have you most excited?
A: I’m looking forward to seeing my friends in the automotive world. That’s one big reason I’m looking forward to the rally in October. The other is burning rubber at Road America.
Q: What makes MAMA stand apart from other automotive organizations?
A: The people. I don’t know if it’s the goofy acronym that I’m sure Mateja is still winking at from up high, or the alleged Midwestern sensibilities, but MAMA folk are like family, and the family reunions are on race tracks and off-road courses.
Q: What’s been keeping you sane (or somewhat sane) during the pandemic?
A: Dog walks, long drives, random hikes, checking off the ever-growing list of home improvement projects, and spending a lot of unusual quality time with my kids, who both became teens during the pandemic. There’s been a lot of ping-pong and basement mini-hoop, chess and board games, and we wrote a song or two about Gingerbread the dog.
Keep up with Duffer’s Twitter musings at @DufferRobert, and read more of his work at www.robertduffer.com.