Start Your Engines, Names, & A Salute To An Old Friend

Happy Monday, friends! We’re down to two weeks (or fourteen days, not that I’m counting or anything) until the green flag drops for Start Your Engines. I’m getting more excited by the day, and I hope you are, too.

Today, I’d like to talk about character names. One of the things authors are often asked is where we get the names for our characters. I’d wager every author has a system. For me, names of family and friends are often given to supporting characters, but the hero, heroine, and main supporting characters get names I’ve pulled out of the sky in some random fashion.

All that changed with Start Your Engines.

You see, Start Your Engines gave me the opportunity to tip my hat to an old friend who grew up in a family that was every bit as racing crazy as my family–Bradd Roembke.

Bradd and I literally grew up together. We were always in the same class in same elementary school. We went to the same high school, and even spent time in college working on the same major. We played ball together and were part of the Scecina Memorial School Boys Tennis team that had a pretty solid run in the early 80’s.

Scecina High School Boys Tennis 1981

Bradd was also the one who suggested we try out for the spring musical our senior year in high school. That phone call led to me landing the role of Harold Hill in “The Music Man.” Great memories.

Like me, Bradd was a race fan. He and I attended the 1980 race together and watched from paddock in front of the Tower Terrace. Though we don’t see each other often, thanks to social media, Bradd and I still keep in touch, which is nice when you’ve known someone for forty-five years.

Bradd wasn’t the only member of the Roembke family with racing in his blood, though. Bradd’s older brother Scott made a career in IndyCar, making it all the way to become COO of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.

Scott Roembke and Bobby Rahal at the 2004 Indianapolis 500.

With Scott at the helm, Rahal Letterman won the Indianapolis 500 in 2004, among many other accomplishments. He was also a key part of Emerson Fittipaldi’s 1989 Indy 500 winning effort. Heartbreakingly, we lost Scott in 2012 at the all too young age of 51. You can read a touching tribute to Scott here.

The reason I tell you all this is because when it came time to write a novel featuring open wheel racing cars, I absolutely had to include tributes to Bradd and Scott, and the Roembke family as a whole. So, when you read Start Your Engines, the hero Brad Thomas, is named in honor of my old friend Bradd. As for Gale Force Racing’s Chief Engineer Scott Remington? That’s for Scott.

Bradd

Scott

So that’s a little peek into how I come up with names for my characters. And Bradd, if you’re reading this, don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about the wiffleball book I’ve promised you!

Start Your Engines arrives in ebook format on August 7. You can pre-order your copy here. Until next time, wishing you all smooth roads and blue skies!

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