JERRY: Today I am sitting here with Jeff Nagy, publisher of the Roddin’ & Racin’ paper you currently hold in your hands. Here’s a little story of how things began. January of 2022 marked the 33rd year since we published the very first issue. Back then, the paper was called Drag Racing Bulletin (see pic), and the first 18 months were from the Houston area of Texas. We had moved there from Huntington Beach, CA, because there was virtually no drag racing left in SoCal. In 1991, we restarted the paper here in Arizona, and in 1999, we changed it to Roddin’ & Racin’. I vividly remember going to press with this very first Arizona edition. I had an old 1973 Chevy pickup that my grandparents had bought brand new in Bend, OR. We called her “Old Blue.” Back in those days, we were still doing the old-fashioned cut and paste assembly of the paper, using paste-up boards.
JEFF: Yeah, 1991… the good ‘ol days, before we had computers for designing publications. I went to college at Gateway Community College in 1988, and we had an Amiga computer in the back of the graphic design classroom… but no one was allowed to touch it–it seems it was for looking at as an example of a computer only. Everything back then was by hand, pasted on boards and Letraset pressed type, and I don’t think the teachers even knew much about how it worked. Anyway, art boards had to be photographed with a huge platform camera and “burned” onto printing plates to make newspapers. That was my first job in the arena of printing. Among other things like bundling the papers as they came off the press and loading them into trucks, I was asked by my boss, Roger Toops, publisher of his own newspaper Western Racing News, to design a few ads since I went to school for graphic design. That was a pretty big deal! Pueblo Publishing produced the Glendale Star, Peoria Times, and the Luke Air Force Tally Ho newspapers as well. When you work for a small newspaper, you dabble in everything on the production side, including the deliveries to the newsstands and monthly deliveries to Luke AFB. One thing that was great about working there is that a day didn’t go by without shop jokes. We did everything you can imagine with some pretty epic practical jokes.
JERRY: I was excited about traveling to Glendale, AZ and getting that first issue printed, but the 17 year old fuel pump on Old Blue decided to stop working on the l-17 freeway. I managed to coast off at a downhill off-ramp right into a Burger King parking lot. This is before cell phones and there just happened to be a phone booth (remember them?) at the Burger King. I called Pueblo Publishing where Jeff worked and who just happened to answer the phone that morning. I told him my plight and asked if there was any way they could come down and pick up the art boards. He checked with management, who said sorry no can do. I stayed in touch as l struggled to get a fuel pump for the truck.
JEFF: I offered to come on my lunch break, but somehow you got a new fuel pump and had a few tools in the truck?
JERRY: Yea, at one point I even asked a guy holding a “Will work for Food” sign to help me get the new pump installed! He was no help, but l did buy him a Whopper and fries. Eventually, I was able to get the art boards delivered and saved that edition’s publication.
JEFF: It’s interesting how things happen and the friends you make along the way.
JERRY: You opened your own graphic design company out of your home about 10 years later? I think we were one of your first clients, and it wasn’t long before you were creating our front page every month and all the professional ads. I’d been a print broker in Southern California and worked with many designers over the years. My experience was that other designers were rarely able to make their promised delivery dates and were flaky. You were completely the opposite! You always came through, even when I would give you something last minute. Over the years, you, your wife Lucy, and Chris (he was your first employee, right?) have always been just great to work with and that attitude never changed over 25 years. Last year, when it came time to sell Roddin’ & Racin’ I knew that you guys were the right people to pass the torch to. Today, I love working with you and love being part of the R&R team even in my part-time capacity. It’s like family.
JEFF: We feel the same about you, Jerry! We’ve always had a great work relationship, and we definitely gained a great friend all those years ago. 25 years goes by so fast, right?
JERRY: It sure does. Let’s continue in next month’s Points & Plugs- I’d like to hear more about your connections to Arizona, to cars and racing, and any behind the scenes happenings with print and web growing into the 21st century.
JEFF: You got it! Meet you back here in April, Jerry