Welcome Back, My Friends
It was in early March that my old drag racing pal Jeff Burk called me to tell me what he hoped to do - launch a new monthly online magazine filled with Chrysler-related feature material, products, racing news, and commentary. This is the introduction to that project, which is making its debut here and now. I agreed to supply him with at least one feature per issue, and when he offered me this forum as well, I figured, hey, why not?
You are reading this article right now because you have chosen to get your news via the internet (no, Al Gore did not invent it). Burk seems to think that magazines printed on paper the old fashioned way are going the way of the buggy whip and the computer punch card; I would disagree to some extent since those same magazines pay my mortgage, but his point is well taken that things in our business are changing.
The Internet allows you as a reader to see nearly real-time sports and news happenings, find information written in the past without hauling that box of old magazines out from under the basement stairs, communicate with others, and generally stay ahead of the knowledge curve. Hey, you know knowledge is power, and Mopar enthusiasm still tends to be ALL about power.
Those of you who have been around the Mopar culture a while probably have seen my rantings before. After editing IHRA’s Drag Review newspaper in the late 1990s, I took over Primedia’s Mopar Muscle magazine for 18 months before deciding that I was through with the editorial meat grinder. Since then, I have continued to freelance for magazines full-time, contributing material to several Primedia and Amos Publishing titles, as well as a monthly column focused on nostalgia drag racing in Mopar Collectors Guide every month.
My Mopar background goes back to the days when my Dad would take our 1966 Coronet (he bought it new) down to NASCAR great Ray Nichols’ Firestone store in Highland, Indiana, for its tune-ups. No, it wasn’t a Hemi, but Nichols always had a few hot pieces of Mopar eye candy on the property in those days. When I finally got my own driver license, the old man put up $750 for a ’68 Charger that became my regular transportation and the catalyst for where I eventually ended up professionally.
The worked small-block was a regular on the streets of Philadelphia until I got totally busted by the cops one night (no mufflers, no hood, exhibition of speed, racing on a public highway, etc.). At that point, I decided discretion was the better part of valor, and turned to professional-type drag racing as a more reasonable outlet for my need for speed.
At that point, Burk was already on his way to becoming a media mogul; his Petersen job would soon give way to grabbing the reins of the late, great Super Stock and Drag Illustrated in the early 1990s. I picked up a camera and began feeding the animals myself.
Though I was no longer out cranking off late night blasts at the stop light Gran Prix, my Mopar passion never diminished, and I was doing a large amount of historical racing articles for Mopar Muscle (then a new upstart periodical from Dobbs Publishing) in those years until the IHRA gig came up. That job resulted in a move to Tennessee, and when the organization was sold to Bill Bader in 1998, my family and I stayed in the South.
Though the Mopar Muscle editor job opened up soon afterward, my family was now rooted in the Volunteer State and I knew too many editors who had been stuck in Florida after they were mentally chewed up by the business. That began a crazy 18 months of spending two weeks at home and two in the office every month, plus job-related travel around the country. I eventually came to the realization that this lifestyle would land me in divorce court, jail, or the grave (or all three) before long, and I went back to the ranks of freelancers in mid-2003.
Between the writing and photography that pays the bills, and maintaining the Ray Mann racing photo archive (www.quartermilestones.com), I will show up here at MoparMAX once a month and talk about the Mopar hobby, Mopar racing, Mopar history, and maybe even a little Mopar controversy.
Frankly, the 21st century is a great time to be a Mopar fan – there are hot products from Detroit, great parts from a whole lot of suppliers, on-track racing successes, and big money payoffs for those people lucky enough to have hung onto the best of the past. You gotta love it!