Signal Hill, CA
Magazine review by Richard Parks and Photographs by Roger Rohrdanz
Full Throttle News is a high quality magazine that focuses on the nostalgia, sportsman and grass roots drag racer. Richard Heath and Tom Hunnicutt founded the magazine in 1994, in a newspaper-like black and white publication. In 1994, they went to Terminal Island where “Big Willie” Robinson had founded Brotherhood Raceway. Robinson and others felt that a safe and sanctioned quarter-mile dragstrip would help to lessen illegal street racing. Heath and Hunnicutt wanted to contribute to this endeavor and came up with a newspaper magazine, which they called Full Throttle News. Tom was an artist and Richard was a typesetter and they felt that “this drag racing program needs some exposure. It was a worthwhile effort to get kids off the street,” said Heath. The early magazines were given away at the dragstrip and focused mainly on Brotherhood Raceway. The first issue came out in March, 1994 and was 16 pages in length, with a printing of 5000 newspapers. The partners took copies to speed shops and the new project began to grow. Hunnicutt was involved with a nostalgia Top Fuel dragster and as his schedule grew, decided to leave Full Throttle News in 1995. Heath kept the paper going for awhile and then made the decision to close down Full Throttle News, but he kept the subscriber list. Heath still had the racing bug in him. He was a distant cousin of Allen Heath, the midget champion and Melvin Heath who won the 2nd NHRA National Championship in 1956.
For a time, Heath traveled with the Winged Express Fuel Altered car and his former subscribers approached him and said, “when are you going to bring back Full Throttle News.” It had gained a cult following by now. Robert, Diana and Jennifer Luna from Luna Printing met with Heath and gave their commitment to partner up and bring back the magazine and this was Richard’s chance to keep Full Throttle News alive. “I’ll restart the magazine if someone sells the ads,” he said, and Jennifer Luna took over that job. Jennifer and Rick Rogers, own Hammerhead Advertising and are responsible for magazine layout and advertising. Heath also felt bad that his old subscribers didn’t get all of the magazines that they had paid for and he saw this as a way to keep his debt to them.
Heath markets the magazine towards the nostalgia drag racing world. They cover tracks in the United States and Canada and just returned from Bandimere Raceway in Colorado, Boise, Idaho, Seattle, Washington and Indianapolis, Indiana. “We’ll go wherever there is a nostalgia drag race,” he said. They have also created a website, called www.FullThrottleNews.com. Full Throttle News has followed the career of J.R. Todd, an NHRA Top Fuel drag racer since 2006. “He’s a hell of a dragracer and a great spokesman for the young drag racers,” said Heath. Columnist Elliott Smith is assigned to follow Todd and send back reports. Another person that they write about and follow is Rick Rogers, who campaigns the Full Throttle nostalgia Top Fuel dragster (AA/FD). Rick is the President of AA*FD, or All-American Fuel Dragster, Inc, which sanctions nostalgia top fuel dragster races. “We’re the top quality drag racing magazine and our writers and photographers are the best,” said Heath. With him were staff photographer Ellen Fisher, columnist Joel Gruzen and PR/Salesperson Diana Luna. Robert Luna is the Printer. This group is very accessible to the public at events they cover. Their yellow shirts with the black trim is easy to see and if you make eye contact they will tell you their fascinating story.
Full Throttle News is now 68 pages in length and the photographs are exceptional in quality and the text interesting and complete. The editorial page lists the contributing writers and photographers and some of their email addresses. Unlike many magazines, Full Throttle News wants to communicate with you and find out what you want them to report on. Some of the writers and photographers listed were; Darrell Conrad, Steve Justice, Eric Arnett, Steve Bell, Steven Bunker, Stormy Byrd, Thomas Fisher, Chris Graves, Tom Hunnicutt, Vicki Hall, Bob Johnson, Mitch Maciel, Carl Morris, Bill Pitts, Spencer Sharp, Beth Szabo, Bob Szabo, Ron Updike, Randy Walls, Lil’ Newt Warriner, Gary Brown, Ken Williams, Bob Brown, Phil Cox, Bryan Ellis, Jason Ellis, Don Ewald, John Ewald, Lance Fitzsimmons, Dave Hulford, Dave Milcarek, David Moyle, John O’Neill, David Parker, Norm Price, Pam Scharvrien, Debbie Booth, Rob Huckstadt and Steven Wallace. You’ll see a few names that you know and the rest will someday be names in the media world. The newsstand price of the book was listed at $3.95, about midrange for such publications, but well worth it for the quality of the magazine and reporting in it. See their website if you are interested in subscribing.