There is no doubt that Hot Rod Magazine, under the direction of Robert Petersen, did more to further the popularity of hot rodding than any other enterprise. In 1948, 22 year old Petersen stood outside the LA Armory Car Show and sold the first editions of HRM for twenty five cents. Those 10,000 issues sold rapidly and formed the foundation for a media empire.
With a staff of laid-off Hollywood starlets and contributing hot rod writers such as Don Franciso and George Riley, HRM soon swept the country. Convincing speed equipment manufacturers to place ads in the magazine was at first difficult, resulting in Petersen himself designing them and doing the layout. The response to the ads quickly changed their minds. Speed equipment from California, for years the domain of So Cal hot rodders, was now available to everyone and a boom ensued.
By the mid 50’s HRM circulation was 400,000. It was a place where hot rodders could write technical articles and manufacturers could advertise their latest products. Soon Petersen was producing Car Trend, Car Craft and Rod & Custom. While he went on to build a media empire with other sports related magazines, Petersen’s heart has always been with the sport that gave him his break.