If you only knew how many times I sat down to write this 30th STREET RODDER anniversary editorial, you would most assuredly get a chuckle. It seems compressing what has happened in 30 years of publishing SRM into a single editorial column is a bit more daunting than I first imagined.
For starters, I was on staff for the first four issues, but a great deal of time passed until I returned as editor in March of 1998. It's been 30 years since the newsstand debut of STREET RODDER (May 1972, Vol. 1, Number 1), and those humble beginnings have grown into a publishing force--editorially and economically.
The original parent company for SRM was TRM Publishing, Inc. (It stood for Tom and wife, Rose McMullen.). The company started in the late '60s producing two motorcycle titles, Street Chopper and Chopper Guide. Tom's love for his business, AEE Choppers, combined with longtime friend LeRoi "Tex" Smith's writing talents and hot rod savvy, spawned a new magazine, SRM.
I would like to thank the original staff of STREET RODDER: Editor Jim Clark; Production Manager Robert K. Smith; Technical Editor Richard Bean; Associate Editors Steve Stillwell, Paul Walker, Dain Gingerelli, and Brian Brennan (Hey, that's me!); Editorial Assistants Sally Thielfoldt and Roma Williford; Art Director William Tietgen; Art Production Emiko Bailey, Gilbert Luna, and Colin Wilcox; and Advertising Assistant Pam Green. It's said that the longest journey starts with a first step.
Over the years there have been many names associated with the growth of not only SRM but the hobby, as well. Some of those that come to mind include Joe Mayall, Neal East, Jack Stewart, Frank Oddo, Bud Lang, the late Bill Burnham, Tony Kelly, Tim Boyd, and Dave Bell, who drew the first Henry Hirise in the first SRM 30 years ago and every issue since.
Then there was Pat Ganahl, who also served as editor of SRM and would later serve as the editor of Hot Rod and Rod & Custom and was instrumental in our success. Since then he has published several books on our hobby and currently is working at Gale Banks Engineering.
What about Steve Coonan? He began as an aspiring photographer who moved from the East Coast and had a short stint as editor, as well. His position in this industry will always be secure. Today he's the owner, master photographer, and (we think) warehouseman for his company, which produces the critically acclaimed--The Rodder's Journal.
Geoff Carter was editor at SRM for nearly eight years. Geoff left SRM to work in the private sector of the street rod industry but eventually got back into publishing. He edited the KKOA Trendsetter and his own Gearheader, a regional automotive magazine that also appeared on the Internet.
There have been many others who served SRM, like Jerry Dexter who has been with the company longer than anyone. In fact, we think he came with the original lease for the building. The company honored Jerry for 20 years of service recently (Congrats, Jerry). Many of you will remember his Pontiac sedan that was featured in many tech stories. He's currently handling special projects for the company.
What's truly amazing is the number of individuals who currently have a long tenure of service with SRM. There's Art Director Robert Manio who has supervised the look of SRM for 15-plus years. Month in and month out he has put forth incredible effort, taking sometimes questionable photos and placing them in a "light" that rewards both the shooter and SRM. All this while working behind the scenes and receiving little recognition. Robert, you deserve a great deal more. Many thanks.
Speaking of saving questionable photos, there's Photo Editor Eric Geisert. Eric has been on staff for 10-plus years and has captured on celluloid countless street rods, events, and other moments from our hobby. His photographs chronicle many of the benchmark cars that have appeared over the past decade. Covers--we have given up trying to keep track of how many he has shot. His photos always appear to be "right on," but few understand the endless effort it takes to get "that" shot. All this coupled with his creative flare has enhanced the magazine.
Then there's Rob Fortier. Rob's been around the offices almost nine years. Rob has shot his share of car features, has been to numerous events, and written many a tech article. Of late, he has become our world traveler to Japan and England, bringing the news from abroad. Rob was recently rewarded with his own editorship. (He's now the editor of Custom Rodder.)
And then there's Wheezy. We're not sure, but we think Jerry Weesner predates all things automotive. However, one thing is for sure, he's been on the staff of SRM and CRM for over 14 years. Jerry is often referred to as our "walking encyclopedia" on all things automotive. He impresses all of us with his historical knowledge and ability to recall what magazine, in what year, and on what page this or that car appeared some 40 years ago. Personally, I think it's because he's predates the automobile! Thanks to the best senior editor in the biz.
And that brings me to our most recent additions, Associate Editor Chris Shelton and Group Technical Editor Ron Ceridono. Chris is a well-educated youngin' loaded with rodding experience. He moves about the office at two miles per hour below warp speed, will talk about any subject (anytime or all the time), and never runs out of enthusiasm or energy. Gosh, it must be great to be young!
Ron on the other hand is another oldie but goodie. Group together his decades as an auto shop teacher, automotive freelancer, and employee of countless automotive jobs, and you have an invaluable addition to SRM. His technical expertise is just the touch we needed at SRM to make the jump to the next level.
I would be terribly remiss if I didn't mention Riz. Jim Rizzo is editor of Classic Trucks and spends precious little time on SRM since his promotion. We miss his efforts, but he and Classic Trucks are both doing well.
For the past six years Debra Wentz (to us she will always be Debra Starbird, yep, daughter to the great customizer Darryl Starbird) has been the one person who makes things happen--the "go to" person. That's Deb. Today, as group managing editor, she keeps the editorial staffs of 11 magazines on track, including SRM. It's a thankless job but one that must be done. Thanks, Deb.
Of course, there are those from the advertising department who have been on staff forever. There's the likes of Publisher Tim Foss who, given his youth and even more youthful looks, I tend not to believe has been on staff over 11 years. There can be no denying the effort he has put forth going from advertising sales rep to publisher, while helping bring SRM to the forefront that it now enjoys. Thanks.
Oh yes, there's one more deserving special recognition. Janeen Webb, often referred to as Mama Webb (but that's another story), has been here for eons. In fact, she started her career with the company as a receptionist. She has some great Tom McMullen stories, ah, maybe that's best left for another time. SRM has her personality stamped all over it. Janeen can be seen travelling throughout the year visiting one advertiser after another, making sure SRM maintains its lofty position. She's a favorite with all the company employees, and me!
And then there's Tom Vogele, a kid from the ranch lands of Montana, car builder supreme, who joined the ranks of journalist. He has made the trip from staffer, to editor, to editorial director, and onto vice-president/group publisher. What more can be said--he has done it all. Oh yes, he is boss to all of us. A special thanks to a good one.
I believe Henry Ford once said, "If you believe you can, you can; and, if you believe you can't, you can't. Since you are correct on both accounts, you might as well try."
Henry was spot-on in his thoughts, which leads me to thank the past, present, and future staffs whether they work in editorial, or advertising, or in production, as well as all those who contribute of whom I may be unaware. I wish I had the space to thank all of you by name, but alas, I don't. Please accept my apologies, but know in your heart that you haven't, nor will you ever, be forgotten.