Passing of a local legend – Peter S. Fischer – In Appreciation

By Jeff Becker – NY Region SCCA

To those of us who were active in road rallies in the late 1960s to early 1970s, this name should need no introduction. Peter Fischer, the founder and publisher of Long Island Sports Car News (later Sports Car News), the local monthly newsletter of rally, solo and other sports car events in the New York Metro area, past winning CLISCC Long Island rally champion, member of Grumman Antique and Sports Car Club, and eventually famous Golden Globe winning Hollywood writer and producer (Murder She Wrote, McMillian and Wife, Columbo etc.), passed away in California on October 30.

When I was beginning my road rally career, Peter was one of the kings of the hill, so to speak, and with driver, Ted Rehman was always the one to beat on the numerous rallies we had back then here on Long Island and in New Jersey. It was an inspiration to speak with him and to read his words in those early Sports Car News writings.

Peter founded Sports Car News in January of 1968. He sold to Steve Plant in January of 1971. After signing the transaction, they teamed up to run Porsche Clubs Snow*Flake XV, where they finished 8th overall. SCN was essential reading back then, with lengthy reports of all the last month’s events (back then, we had at least 2-3 rallies every month on Long Island) and a listing of all the upcoming events with contact information. I, for one, read every issue cover to cover as soon as it arrived in the mailbox.

In 1973, we were all sorry when he packed up and moved to California to pursue his career as a writer, but also immensely proud of the local guy who made good when he became the successful writer/producer he was. One of his episodes of MacMillian and Wife (Rock Hudson and Susan Saint James called “Downshift to Danger”, you can see it on YouTube) was focused on a road rally, and many of us guessed that several of the characters were based on local Long Island rally personalities.

His contribution to road rally on Long Island and in the New York Metro area cannot be overstated. He also chaired many a Grumman event, and Sports Car News was essential reading for anyone involved in the sports car seen on Long Island. I owe him a great debt of gratitude for helping a young guy getting interested in road rally start on a 50 + year career in the sport.

May he rest in peace.

His obituary from the New York Times is at: Peter S. Fischer, Who Helped Create Murder, She Wrote Dies at 88 – The New York Times