Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2020 September 02 • Wednesday

Happy birthday!

If you start poking around in the mainstream pulp culture archives looking for stuff about surfing, sooner or later you'll find hot rod stuff.

The July 1959 issue of Tempo, a "men's magazine", leads with a provocative cover story: "5 Million Hot Rodders: Are They a Menace?".

These magazines tended to be all about the menace, so it was amusing to discover that the answer to this question was a firm and unequivocal "No".

They start out by noting that "Hollywood and yellow journalism" bear much responsibility for the fact that "an uninformed United States public associates the term with leather-jacketed juvenile delinquents, crazy-mixed-up kids and hell-raising adolescents".

"Nothing—but nothing—could be further from the truth", they go on.

Not only have "Hot Rodders … been highly approved by the governments, police departments and civic leagues of every city they have emerged in", President Eisenhower himself "beams his approval as he congratulates 50 finalists in a Teen-Age Road-e-O".

(And surely it's worth noting that the photo shows Eisenhower, who commanded both the National Guard and the US Army to integrate schools, affectionately shaking hands with the only non-white person in the photo.)

According to Tempo, "Hot Rodders are bound by word and deed and honor to assist any motorist in trouble" and that they have been investigated and given "a clean bill of health" by the FBI.

The article concludes by informing its readers that today's Hot Rodder is tomorrow's Engineer!

They also credit the publishers of Rods Illustrated for "statistical information and photographs".