The Family Road Trip

Aug 24, 2018


Part pop history and part whimsical memoir in the spirit of “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” “Don’t Make Me Pull Over!” is a nostalgic look at the golden age of family road trips — a halcyon era that culminated in the latter part of the twentieth century, before portable DVD players, iPods, and Google Maps.


Richard Ratay was the last of four kids raised by two mostly attentive parents in Elm Grove, Wisconsin. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in journalism and has worked as an award-winning advertising copywriter for 25 years. Ratay lives in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, with his wife, Terri, their two sons, and two very excitable rescue dogs.

Richard's Road Trip Playlist

"Don't believe me? Close your eyes and imagine the intoxicating rhythms of Los del Río's 'Macarena.' POOF! You're back in 1998, attending a cheesy wedding reception at a bowling alley in Scranton, right? Yeah, I thought so."

"OK, this is a truly terrible song. But it was a monster novelty hit that helped launch the CB craze of the '70s, inspiring even the squarest suburbanites to begin referring to state patrol officers as 'smokies' and confirming dinner plans with a '10-4, good buddy!' Plus, I paid McCall (not his real name) good money to quote some of this song's lyrics in my book."

"Back in 1974, my dad bought a sweet, mustard gold Oldsmobile Toronado loaded with all the options, including our family's first 8-track deck. As part of the deal, the salesman threw in two free tapes: a compilation of show tunes and Barry Manilow's second album. On our first road trip in the car, my oldest brother and sister insisted on playing this song over and over again, nearly sparking a family civil war. Frankly, it's a wonder we ever made it home."

"Besides being my all-time favorite musician, Lloyd Cole is also the only legendary performer to have ridden around in the back seat of our family SUV. True story."

"It was the perfect song at the perfect moment: My wife and I were cruising along Australia's Great Ocean Road, gazing out at the magnificent 12 Apostles rock formations rising up from the Southern Ocean, when smooth-crooning Kiwi Neil Finn and company comes on the radio of our rental car to provide just the right backdrop. Unforgettable."

"While many would opt for the far too obvious 'Roadhouse Blues' as the best Doors road trip tune, I'll take 'L.A. Woman' and its driving, mesmerizing keyboard bass line. Plus, no one can touch my Jim Morrison while singing along in the driver's seat."

Click here for Richard's full playlist.