Hot Rod
EditorJohn McGann
Former contributorsWes Allison, Larry Chen, Elana Scherr, Mike Finnegan, Brandan Gillogly, Phillip Thomas
Former editorsWally Parks, Rob Kinnan, David Freiburger, David Kennedy, Evan Perkins, Johnny Hunkins
CategoriesAutomobile magazine
PublisherMotor Trend Group
Total circulation
(June 2021)
FounderRobert Petersen
First issueJanuary 1948 (1948-01)
Based inEl Segundo, California

Hot Rod is an American car magazine devoted to hot rodding, drag racing, and muscle cars—modifying automobiles for performance and appearance, published monthly until 2024, when it transitioned to publishing quarterly.


Hot Rod is the oldest magazine devoted to hot rodding, having been published since January 1948.[2][3] Robert E. Petersen founded the magazine and his Petersen Publishing Company was the original publisher. The first editor of Hot Rod was Wally Parks, who went on to found the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA).[4] Petersen Publishing was sold to British publisher EMAP in 1998, who then sold the former Petersen magazines to Primedia in 2001. Today it is published by Motor Trend Group, formerly known as TEN: The Enthusiast Network and Source Interlink Media. Source Interlink acquired the magazine along with Primedia's Consumer Magazine division in 2007.[5]

Hot Rod has a strategic relationship with Universal Technical Institute,[6] referring to UTI as its sponsor.[7]

In March 1948, Hot Rod published the first appearance of Tom Medley's cartoon hot rodder, Stroker McGurk. The feature would survive until 1955.[8][9]

Between 1961 and 1969, the Hot Rod Magazine Championship Drag Races, "one of the most significant drag racing events" of that era, were hosted by the magazine at Riverside Raceway.[10] The championship offered a US$37,000 prize, greater even than a National Hot Rod Association national event prize at the time.[11]

The "Hot Rod Power Tour" is an organized tour where hot rodders drive a pre-planned route throughout the United States. It began in 1995 when Hot Rod staff members decided to take some of their project cars on a cross-country drive from Los Angeles, California to Norwalk, Ohio. Thousands of people participated along the way but only seven participants (other than staff members) made the entire journey and were inducted into the original "Long Hauler Gang". Since its inception, this event has continued to gain in popularity and is now one of the most anticipated automotive events each year. It is typically six to eight days in length and held in late May or early June. In recent years, the tour has evolved to become what is essentially a continuous trek around the United States in that it begins in or near the location that it ended in the previous year. Each stop is combined with events or activities that vary as much as the participants themselves.[citation needed]

The starting points can change from year to year on the power tour. Tour Stops along the way on the power tour often feature entertainment, celebrities, contests, and games.

Video games

Burnout: Championship Drag Racing (1998) was licensed by Hot Rod. ValuSoft has published Hot Rod: American Street Drag and Hot Rod: Garage to Glory, drag racing video games in which the goal is to win the cover feature of Hot Rod magazine.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "eCirc for Consumer Magazines". Alliance for Audited Media. June 30, 2021. Retrieved November 22, 2021.
  2. ^ Dinan, John (September 1, 1998). Sports in the Pulp Magazines. McFarland. p. 64. ISBN 978-0-7864-4047-4. Retrieved October 19, 2015.
  3. ^ H.F. Moorhouse (1986). "Organizing Hot Rods: Sport and Specialist Magazines". The International Journal of the History of Sport. 3 (1): 81–98. doi:10.1080/02649378608713590.
  4. ^ Goldstein, Richard (October 4, 2007). "Wally Parks, Drag Racing Pioneer, Dies at 94". The New York Times.
  5. ^ "Motor Trend publisher sold for $1.2 billion - The Boston Globe". Retrieved 2020-05-21.
  6. ^ "Universal Technical Institute". SEC. Retrieved May 21, 2020.
  7. ^ "Welcome to the Hot Rod Network". Hot Rod. October 28, 2014. Retrieved May 21, 2020.
  8. ^ Alverson, Brigid. "Stroker McGurk’ creator Tom Medley passes away", written 12 March 2014, at CBR.rom (retrieved 23 October 2018)
  9. ^ Coonan, Steve. "Hot Rodding Legend Tom Medley Passes Away at 93", at retrieved 23 October 2018)
  10. ^ Taylor, Thom. Untitled item in Hot Rod Magazine, February 2017, p.11.
  11. ^ Taylor, p.11.

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