For decades, Jean Jennings has been helping make the automotive world accessible to non-experts – or, as she puts it, “I know the secret car-guy handshake, so you don’t have to.”
Jennings is this year’s featured guest speaker at the “Evening with Automotive Restoration” dinner at 6 p.m. on Friday May 1, in Mingenback Theatre on the MC campus.
Jennings first learned about cars at the kitchen table from her father, who was editor of “Automotive News.” She went on to become an owner/operator of a Yellow Cab in Ann Arbor, Mich., and then as a test driver, welder and mechanic at Chrysler’s test track. From there, she became a writer at “Car and Driver” magazine in 1980 and helped found “Automobile Magazine” as first executive editor in 1985, becoming editor in chief in 2000 and adding the role of president of the magazine in 2006. She now focuses on the website that she created – “Jean Knows Cars” – and has signed with the “Chicago Tribune” to write a syndicated column.
In her career, she has taught Oprah and her studio audience how to change a tire and jump a battery; served as automotive correspondent for “Good Morning America”; been a guest on the “Tonight Show” with Jay Leno; and been profiled in “The New Yorker.”
On television, she’s been a regular contributor to the “Fox Business Network,” “Behind the Wheel,” MSNBC, CNN’s Headline News, and CBS This Morning and Evening News, among others.
An Evening with Automotive Restoration is one part of a full weekend highlighting the automotive restoration program at McPherson College, which is the only college to offer a four-year bachelor’s degree in automotive restoration.
May 1 will also have a “cruise-in” for classic cars, May 2 is the student-run C.A.R.S. Club Car Show – which is free to the public to attend – and on May 3 is a swap meet – a new event this year.
Amanda Gutierrez, vice president for automotive restoration, said she expects a fun evening and weekend with both Jennings speaking Friday evening and the car show on Saturday.
“As the college’s reputation grows nationwide, we are able to bring in high-profile individuals from the automotive world to spend time with our students, the campus community and area car enthusiasts,” Gutierrez said. “Jean is a remarkable woman with a lot of industry knowledge.”
Tickets for An Evening with Automotive Restoration are $35 per person, with proceeds benefiting the automotive restoration program. Tickets can be purchased online at www.mcpherson.edu/autorestoration.