Throttle, The Original Hot Rod Magazine
Throttle Magazine was the first known “hot rod” magazine, before it was even known as hot rodding. Throttle was almost 100% focused on southern California Lakes and Midget racing. It was only printed for 1 year, 1941, and included 12 issues. The bombing of Pearl Harbor turned the USA upside down and hot rodding all but dried up for 3-4 years along with the magazine. Throttle never came back after WWII ended. ”Hot Rod Magazine” picked things back up in January 1948 with their first issue.
Here’s a quick look at Throttle through a Reprint book I purchased at The Rodders Journal website.
Thom Taylor (check out Thom’s website ThomTaylorDesigns.com), hot rod artist, was the person who spearheaded the effort to put together a quality reprint of all 12 issues. No small task considering relatively few copies were printed and the fact that they are almost 70 years old. That’s Old School cool!
Here’s a glimpse from the Introduction by Thom Taylor of just what kind of effort was involved in this project:
“Jack Peters, who created Throttle and was its editor and publisher, was an enigma. Finding out what happened to him was difficult but also fun. Talking with Bill Burke (built the first belly tank lakester), Wally Parks (NHRA Museum in Pomona is named after him), Phil Remington and Louis Senter–even though their recollections were not real good, was a joy. There aren’t many left that experienced racing at Muroc and El Mirage before WWII, but fortunately there are many documented memories compiled by researchers and hot rod historians that will live forever.”
Here is the January 1941 cover page, the Inaugural Edition, priced at $.10.
Right off the bat, you get a sense of the hot rodders and speed freaks who were “chopping” up their Model T’s and A’s were already in defense-mode. It’s obvious there were political and public threats on the hobby from the get-go. Check this quote from the very first page.
“This racing will go on and on and on, and our elders might as well resign themselves to that condition. If it is not taken care of in the open, with sponsoring associations attempting to work with state, city and county police officers at all times, it will be done on public streets and highways with a toll of disaster and tradegy for exceeding that little which has already marred its record.”
Basically, he’s saying, we’re gonna race no matter what, so we might as well do this the right way!
Here’s a report from Wally Parks, Secretary of the SCTA (Southern California Timing Association) from the August issue. Top speed for the event was 128.93 MPH by the Spaulding Bros. who it says ran a V-8 Modified in the Unlimited Class.
This page from the November-December First Anniversary (and last) edition is great because it shows you some of the speed parts advertisements. How about a Thickstun or Burns Foundry 2 carb intake manifolds for your flathead V8? Or the Balch Garage towing service…it says “Have a Wreck Mister…?” ha ha I love it! Vic Edelbrock is named SCTA Champion for 1941. You may have heard of that guy before, right?
This page also shows you that the “roundy round” racing was just as popular as lakes racing with talk of a 500 mile race, you may have heard of it? … the Indianapolis 500, will continue as planned, even though the world is at war.
Throttle is a real piece of history, its not a book written today about yesterday, it is actually straight from the beginning of hot rod time. When you read each issue, it takes you back to 1941 and sucks you into the culture and dilemnas of the day. It gives you an idea of what life was like for a “speed bug” (that’s what hot rodders were called). I read the slang and the nicknames for cars, speed parts, the people and car clubs and I just can’t help but smile, knowing the same passion exists today for the “hopped up” cars that roam the planet.
Some things just don’t change. Check out page 23 above from the February issue. Peters warns “WARNING!…To all those interested in keeping amateur auto racing from being stopped completely…if even one club member is caught taking part in such foolishness…Do Your Part…Don’t Race on Highways or Streets”
Do yourself a favor and add this book to our collection. It’s probably my favorite book in my small, but growing collection so far. You can get it from The Rodders Journal web store.
So, if Jack Peters were still alive, he might ask “What are you doing to continue the rich hot rodding and customizing tradition alive?” Let us know in a comment below.