Having a Ball at Car Craft
By Terry Cook
We had an absolute ball at Car Craft magazine. A great mix of chemistry of the staff. We took the book from 180,000 circulation to over 350,000 in a few short years while Hot Rod was stumbling and diving in circulation. Much of it had to do with the fact that for years Car Craft couldn't find its ass with both hands as far as its editorial direction was concerned, wandering around being a Go Kart magazine, a custom car magazine, a model car magazine, and then "fell" into drag racing and Detroit Musclecars just as those two things were exploding in popularity.
Much of it had to do with the staff. And one momentous day when Publisher John Raffa went to the top floor and PPC Company President Fred Waingrove told John "I don't know what those guys (our staff) is doing down there, but whatever it is, let them keep doing it"...John made the mistake of coming back down and telling me, then the Editor, what he had said. Prior to that we were just screwing around on our own and having fun, but when I heard we had the GREEN LIGHT from the seventh floor, we cut loose.
If I remember correctly we did things like sending our staff photographer crawling through the air conditioning ducts on the 3rd floor hooting through the air vents at the other mags on the floor (Hot Rod and Rod & Custom). It was truly the lunatics running the asylum. That energy and fun translated into the magazine and the readers instantly picked up on it and sales continued to rise. There was a minimum of interference from the ad guys telling us what we could and couldn't do, a sad situation that pervades virtually ALL magazines today.
Some day I'll tell you about the times I got called into Bob Gottlieb's office to have my wrist spanked, as he was the legal council for both Petersen and NHRA, and we did some things Wally didn't exactly like. But that's another story.