No. 1014
September 18, 2019

About The Autoextremist


Author, commentator, influencer. "The Consigliere." Editor-in-Chief of .

Peter DeLorenzo has been in and around the sport of racing since the age of ten. After a 22-year career in automotive marketing and advertising, where he worked on national campaigns as well as creating many motorsports campaigns for various clients, DeLorenzo established on June 1, 1999. Over the years DeLorenzo's commentaries on racing and the business of motorsports have resonated throughout the industry. Because of the burgeoning influence of those commentaries, DeLorenzo has directly consulted automotive clients on the fundamental direction and content of their motorsports programs. DeLorenzo is considered to be one of the most influential voices commenting on the sport today.

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JOHN THAWLEY: 1950 - 2018.

By Peter M. DeLorenzo

Detroit. I'm sure readers of this website have noticed that we haven't featured photography from John Thawley on our site since the Daytona 24 Hour race back in January. We - and our readers - have looked forward to John's brilliant photographic work throughout the IMSA seasons over the years, and it was a distinct honor for us to showcase his work here on And now, it is with extreme sadness that I have to report that John passed away on Sunday, after succumbing to a particularly vicious bout of cancer. 

John fell ill after returning from Daytona and battled right to the end. We communicated via email several times, with occasional flashes of optimism from him about getting back out to covering a race, but when he called me last week he could barely talk and I knew his time was near. He talked about how we'd carry forward with the site and some other logistical issues, because he was responsible for the design updates of our website in recent years, but it was brutally sad conversation with a finality that will remain with me for a long time to come.

There's a backstory to how John and I came to know each other that goes all the way back to the late 70s. In a previous life John owned and operated a exclusive men's clothing store called John Thawley, in Birmingham, Michigan. I got to know John there after buying a couple of suits as I was gearing up for my advertising career - he carried exquisite stuff - and we remained friends. Eventually he closed that store and moved on to other things, and we lost touch. Then, almost a decade ago, in the course of covering racing, I kept seeing "John Thawley" as a photography credit attached to some terrific racing images, pictures that stood out from the rest. I kept thinking about it every time I saw his name, and I finally reached out to him to see if it was the same John Thawley I knew way back when. Sure enough, he was, and we enjoyed reconnecting and he immediately offered to help with our website. 

I fondly remember me and WordGirl meeting John in a local Starbucks one morning and he was brimming with ideas to make our site visually better, understanding the maverick spirit of AE perfectly. I offered to feature his scintillating photographic work on our site and we went on from there. You can still peruse a history of John's brilliant work in our AE Galleries here

As of this writing, John's arrangements are incomplete, but we will update this column as information becomes available. Our deepest sympathies go out to John's family and his many friends in and out of the racing world. John is survived by his sister, Diane and brother-in-law, Dan, his son Marlon and his son's mother, Kristin. Our deepest sympathies go out to John's family and his many friends in and out of the racing world.

John Thawley, 1950 - 2018