There has never been a more influential automotive publisher than Robert E. Petersen. Through Hot Rod Magazine and his other titles—including Rod & Custom and Car Craft—he helped legitimize our sport and spread the word to millions of car crazy readers around the globe. Petersen was a photographer, racer, marketing genius, family man and much more—and now his life story is in print like never before. We’re excited to introduce Hot Rod Empire: Robert E. Petersen and the Creation of the World’s Most Popular Car and Motorcycle Magazines, published by our friends at Motorbooks and now available in our TRJ Library.
A young Robert E. Petersen with his trusty Speed Graphic 4x5 camera.
This brand new 208-pagehardcover takes an inside look at Petersen’s life as well as the growth of his highly successful publishing company. It follows his path from a U.S. Army Air Corps photographer to a media mogul, and it’s loaded with 250 rare and tons of never-before-seen photos from the Petersen archives. From the dry lakes and Bonneville to car shows, drag races and Petersen parties, it’s a must-have for anyone interested in the birth of HRM and hot rodding from the 1940s-’70s.
Petersen catches up with members of the Throttlers car club in 1947. Note the Doane Spencer roadster second from right.
Written by acclaimed author Matt Stone and Gigi Carleton, Mr. Petersen's longtime executive secretary and confidant (whose story we told in TRJ #75), Hot Rod Empire covers all the bases. It leaves no stone unturned, and it features a foreword by none other than Ed “Isky” Iskenderian and a preface by Bruce Meyer. It’s a star-studded cast, and it’s only fitting for the all-American tale of the King of Hot Rod Publishing.
To order your copy of Hot Rod Empire, click the box above, or give us a call at (800) 750-9550 in the United States, (877) 479-2627 in Canada or (650) 246-8920 internationally.
Your Friends at The Rodder’s Journal
The Petersen headquarters on 5959 Hollywood Boulevard has a special place in hot rodding history. Here a pair of Nor Car rodders stopped by in their channeled Deuce.
Longtime Petersen photographer Bob D'Olivo sets up a shot of Rich Guasco's Model A roadster. The car went on to win the AMBR award in 1961.
Petersen played an instrumental role during the early days of the NHRA. Here's NHRA Director Ed Eaton with their '59 Chevy Biscayne sedan delivery decked out for the Safety Safari.
Along with publishing, Petersen was known for organizing world-class shows. Here's a poster from the 1952 Motorama.
Participation has always been a key part to Hot Rod's success, as witnessed by their sponsorship of Ak Miller's "Caballo I" and Wally Parks' "Suddenly" Plymouth.