Early in Jack Smith’s writing career, the Philadelphia Inquirer dubbed him “Our man on the macho beat” for his coverage of the French Foreign Legion, pro football, and lion taming, and for surviving a three-round bout with then–light heavyweight champion Michael Spinks. Since then, Smith has become better known for his observations on the world of wealth and privilege, appearing regularly in such publications as the New York Times, Town & Country, the Chicago Tribune, GQ, and M. He has advised numerous Fortune 500 corporations on branding strategies and image forging and coauthored The Fire Within with Henry Rowan, the $100 million benefactor of Rowan University. Since his Robb Report debut in 1994, Smith has contributed more than 100 articles on such diverse topics as fine wine, philanthropy, art, motoring, and fashion.
In this month’s issue, Smith again demonstrates the breadth of his curiosity with his account of skiing Austria’s Stubai Glacier (“Summer Freeze,”) and his examination of Ralph Lauren’s 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 Mille Miglia (“Alfa Tale,”). “Throughout history people have asked themselves, ‘What is art?’ ” Smith says of the Alfa, which debuted in its newly restored form earlier this year at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts and will vie for best-of-show honors at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in August. “The Alfa provides a moving response to this question.”
Now an avid skier, Smith took up the sport as an undergraduate at Dartmouth College and continued to spend his study breaks on the slopes while attending the University of Pau and the University of Freiburg. But he wishes that he had discovered glacier skiing earlier. “When I was shuddering in lift lines,” says Smith, “I never imagined skiing could be a summertime sport.” We cannot imagine that the man who tamed lions and took on a boxing champ would ever find cause to shudder. But then again, the spa at the Stubai Valley’s Hotel Jagdhof is a long way from the macho beat.
In his more than four decades as a journalist, Robb Report editor at large Paul Dean has worked as an investigative reporter, a war correspondent, a columnist, and a syndicated automotive critic whose assignments have earned him a pair of Pulitzer Prizes (as a member of the Los Angeles Times’ writing teams that covered the city’s riots in 1992 and the Northridge earthquake in 1994) and taken him to all seven continents. A writer with such a résumé is not easily impressed or surprised, but the cars that Dean drove for this issue elicited both emotions from him. Of the Ferrari F430 Spider (“Web Sight,” ), he says, “Rarely in a lifetime do you get a chance to drive a car and say, ‘This is one of the great sports cars,’ and the statement is completely defensible.” And the Maserati MC12 (“The Myth and the Machine,”), adds Dean, “was a seminal experience, being able to drive a street car designed as a racecar and quickly realizing just how fast that machine could go.” Like the other autos that Dean writes about for Robb Report, the MC12 goes fast enough to keep this frequently lauded, well-traveled scribe going.