Jim McIlvaine was born and raised in Racine, Wis. Although his father worked for Walker Exhaust Systems, he was a CPA and not a gearhead. Through 16 years of Catholic education, the closest Jim came to an automotive shop class was “Know Your Car,” which was taught by Sister Rotarius, affectionately known to her students as “Sister Goodwrench.” Jim's first car was a 1981 Renault LeCar, which was retro-fitted with 16 deep-cycle batteries, one accessory battery and a 15-hp electric motor. This was followed by a 1979 Ford Bronco Ranger XLT and a lifted 1984 Ford F-150 the previous owner named “Dirty, Mean & Nasty.”
Jim's first new vehicle purchase was a 1992 Chevrolet Silverado, which he still owns today, more than 220,000 miles later. Jim's automotive tastes focus on the domestic, with a Lincoln Mark VIII, Impala SS, Camaro Z28 and Camaro SS all spending time in his garage. Jim's garage space is currently occupied by a 2013 Ford Flex, a 1994 GMC one-ton dually (inspired by Mel Gibson's ride in Lethal Weapon 2), a 2006 Ford 500 winter beater and more Saturns than a sane man would admit to owning.
McIlvaine graduated from Marquette University in 1994, with a Bachelor’s degree in communications and a minor in business. He is also the first Marquette graduate to enroll in the Automotive Tech program at Blackhawk Technical College.
Jim first entered into the world of automotive-based Internet message boards when he joined CamaroZ28.com in 1999. Less than two years later, a chance meeting with a magazine editor landed him a contributing editor job at GM High-Tech Performance magazine. Since then, Jim's writing and photography have appeared in several different magazines, including Popular Hot Rodding, Super Chevy, Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords, Speed, Style & Sound, Ol' Skool Rodz, Roadkill, Classic Car Trader, Camaro Performers, and Waterski.
Although Jim is currently without a track car, he does have a 1969 Mercury Cyclone under construction and has enjoyed track events at Brainerd International Raceway, Indianapolis Raceway Park and his home track, Road America. Jim has covered dozens of racing events from Ultra4 off-road races in the Mojave desert to drag races at Englishtown. He has driven to every state in the lower-48, except Maine and his longest continuous roadtrip was a 4,000-mile journey to collect a ski boat. He has also driven from Wisconsin to Belize.
Jim still regularly contributes to several automotive publications and serves as the color analyst for the Marquette basketball radio network. When he's not spending time with his family, McIlvaine enjoys surfing, waterskiing and holding up the fence at Canada Corner.
He also played in the NBA.