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#takethewheel with Mr. Jason Nikic

In our #takethewheel series we ask friends, customers, and colleagues to get in the driver's seat and answer questions about who they are and what makes them tick. 

For our first #takethewheel interview, we asked longtime friend Jason Nikic to dish about what he does to escape the stresses of everyday life, his favorite hotel and where you’re most likely to find him should you go looking.

Tell us about the day job:

Jason Nikic (JN): I'm the Publisher / Chief revenue Officer of Interview, the magazine founded by Andy Warhol.

Go ahead and take a picture of your keychain for us:

#takethewheel keychain

Tell us what we're looking at here.

jn: It's from Ghurka, a gift from my Esquire Magazine colleagues at the time, for helping with an event they hosted during Monterey car week. I had it in my pocket when I came across this stunning, near perfect white Land Rover Defender 90 station wagon at Laguna Seca the next day. I was in love. I started my search almost immediately. It took me a little time to find what I wanted - there are only 500 or so NAS (North American Specification) hardtop defenders in a manual. Fast forward one year and I found my unicorn.

What other vehicles do you own?

jn: Here's the stable:  A 1978 Porsche wide body race car that's so challenging, yet so rewarding; an E36 BMW M3 race car that's built for endurance racing (enduro) and faster than the 911 in every way, but nowhere near as fulfilling; a 1995 NAS Defender 90 Station Wagon that currently serves as my daily driver; a 2013 Porsche Cayenne GTS that I drive when I care about things like being able to hear the person seated directly next to me and arriving to meetings on time; and a B6 Audi S4 that I've had for what feels like forever.  *takes deep breath*

#takethewheel Porsche 911

#takethewheel Porsche911

#takethewheel Defender 90

What drew you to the Defender?

jn: I blame you (Jon Ruti, founder of Rivay). I always loved the Defender.  When you and I would take long drives in your soft top Defender to the Adirondacks, I decided that maybe I should get a hardtop so we weren't sporting our down belay jackets in the car.

What do you love about driving the Defender?

jn: There's something romantic about every drive. Even if it's just a few miles to the train station.  When you're sitting in the drivers seat and start the car with your left hand and row through the gears with your right and feel every bump of the road through an oversized steering wheel - it's magic. Puts a smile on my face every time.

What's the one thing you dislike about driving it?

jn: Sitting in that same driver's seat when it's 20 degrees below freezing and the heater won't get going until 15 minutes into driving.

Have any other toys we should know about?

jn: My collection of bikes - the pedal kind, not the cooler kind - outstrips my cars. I've slimmed down my arsenal from a high of twelve (yes, I know - but in my defense I worked for Bicycling Magazine at the time) to just four lifetime bikes: a custom Parlee Z1 that's the definition of perfect, a Pegoretti Responsorium that Dario fit for me after a long night of drinking grappa, a Ridley Helium that was custom painted by the guys in Belgium, a team purple Stoemper Ronnie cross bike and another Stoemper Darrell aluminum race bike. They're keepsakes, ones that I will never sell. 

Have your eye on anything else?

jn: Always. Air cooled long hood 911's and 964 Turbos. A Formula Ford. Something silly but still somewhat reasonable for the street - something like a 997 Turbo (last version of Porsche's venerable Metzger motor). An NAS Defender 110.

What's the dream car?

jn: There's something about the '73 Porsche RSR that makes me second guess every impulse to live a responsible, law abiding life.

Car you most regret selling?

jn: My first Porsche, a 1978 911 Targa hotrod. The car was rough, but it drove so good. The noise, the handling, it was the car that first introduced me to the track. My first love.

You have 1 hour to escape, what do you do?

jn: Throw on some kit and hop on the bike for a quick ride. No Strava, no GPS, just the road and a lack of fitness. Regardless of how hard I try to keep it at an hour, it always ends up with me showing up late somewhere.

Now you've got 2 weeks.

jn: Folegandros, Greece. It's a tiny island still off the well-worn path of most travelers. The kind of place where you have to hike a few kilometers to reach the beach.  But it's worth it.  The beaches are raw and untouched, without a lounge chair or umbrella in sight.  A place where an email from work can't find you. 

Favorite trip not yet taken?

jn: The next one.  I'm headed to Puglia in two weeks to experience a part of Italy that feels less polished and manicured than many of the classic Italian resort towns.

A hotel that feels most like home?

jn: Hotel Budir, Snæfellsnes peninsula, Iceland. It's not at all like home, but it's the kind of view that I want to wake up to every single morning. It sits right at the edge of the coast with these towering mountains to the north. A drink in my hand, a book on my lap, my fiancé next to me and the Budir house dog at my feet - it's hard to beat.

You can teleport to any bar in the world right now. Where to?

jn: A spot in Athens called Baba au Rum that makes these incredible drinks. Maybe some of the best drinks I've ever had. But it's more than that. It's the music, the people, the atmosphere. Even in the middle of the week the people around you have this effortless style that's only made more interesting by their sole interest in the people they're with.

What's your drink?

jn: Negroni.

What will we always find on your nightstand?

jn: My iPhone, charging.  It's always dying on me.

The one item you are never without?

jn: Persol 714s. I lose a pair every year because I'm equal parts forgetful and irresponsible, but I always come back to this classic.

Your favorite travel hack?

jn: My first publisher (and good friend to this day) taught me how to fold a blazer so it won't wrinkle. Buy me a negroni and I'll show you.

Where's your hometown?

jn: Born and raised in the Bronx. Currently living in Rye, NY with my fiancé and our dogs.

Place we're most likely to find you if we're looking?

jn: My workshop. I rent a garage for the race cars, trailers and tools. There's always something on a car that needs attention.

Place we'll never find you?

jn: The kitchen.

The road you drive to take your mind off things?

jn: Dennytown Road > North to Route 301 > Down into Cold Spring, NY.

Watch or iPhone?

jn: Watch. I feel naked without it. My current favorite is a vintage '40s Omega that my fiancé purchased for me. Lately though, my Tudor Black Bay is the go-to.

Vans or Chucks?

jn: Chucks, white and lived in.

Diesel or Gas?

jn: Gas. But if weren't for race cars, it'd be diesel.

Rocks or neat? 

jn: Rock. Singular. 

Hardtop or Soft top? 

jn: Hardtop, manual tranny. 

Biggest risk ever taken?

jn: This new gig at Interview. I left my dream job as the number two at Car and Driver and Road & Track to take the reigns at magazine that’s entirely out of my comfort zone. But I know I’ll be looking back in the winter of my career and see just how smart a move it was.