“Car guy” is an understatement.
Jerry Burton is more than just a knowledgeable car guy — he’s an auto expert. Especially when it comes to one of the most beloved and iconic rides out there — the Corvette.
Little did Jerry know that when he joined CE in 1984 that he’d be inextricably linked to the Chevrolet and Corvette brands later in life. A copywriter by trade, his rise to auto expert stardom includes coining the famous theme line “Heartbeat of America”; becoming intimately involved in the industry’s first instant race win TV ad at the 1988 Indy 500; and launching/editing Corvette Quarterly, a 250,000 circulation magazine for Corvette owners and prospects. But it was the writing that happened outside the walls of CE that opened a new set of doors.
Through his passion for the Vette, Jerry was introduced to Zora Arkus-Duntov — a Belgian born and Russian raised famed Corvette engineer who “personified the Corvette in a physical and emotional sense.” The two became close acquaintances, often grabbing lunch to chat about cars. When Zora passed in 1996, his wife asked Jerry to write Zora’s biography.
Zora’s interesting and entertaining past endeared Jerry even more to the Corvette man. Mastering Zora’s psyche in the five years it took Jerry to write the bio was no easy feat. “You really have to get into your subject’s skin and analyze the choices he made — the risks — and speculate from his point of view,” said Jerry. “Putting together a biography is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle or following a treasure map.”
The book, Zora Arkus-Duntov, the Legend Behind Corvette, was published in 2002 by Bentley Publishers.
Jerry will spend a week in Russia this summer aiding the Russian Ministry of Culture with an exhibit honoring Zora and his achievements, and will speak at the opening event.*
With the bio and his other works completed, including Corvette: America’s Sports Car — Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow and 100 Years of Chevrolet, Jerry’s looking to get his hands wrapped around another adventure — perhaps a screenplay?
*Updates since this profile published:
5/19/12 — Photos from Jerry's trip to Russia
6/22/12 — "Champion of the Corvette, Feted in the Land He Left," by Jerry Burton appeared in The New York Times