One day I got a phone call from a guy who said he was the editor of a new off-road vehicle magazine called Travelin’ 4x4s. Of all things, he wanted me to write monthly articles. “Sure!” I said, hardly believing it. Perhaps 6 months later or maybe a bit longer, Bill Sanders called me and said he wanted me to take over the Techline column at Four Wheeler. Because I was already writing as Willie Worthy for Travelin’ 4x4s, I got a new name, Mark Stanton, as well as a couple of others that I have forgotten. Even if it wasn’t under my own name, I was actually part of Four Wheeler magazine. Writing money and sponsorships put us strongly back into off-road racing for about 8 years. Travelin’ 4x4s folded in 1980, so my real name went on the masthead of Four Wheeler. What could be greater! That puts my name there for 30 years.
Perhaps 6 months after that I was asked to do a tech column in another startup magazine. Another year passed and three other magazines requested my services. By now I actually was pretty much over my head. We had three daughters, I was doing custom dirt work with my Bobcat tractor in the summer and snow removal in the winter, and with some great sponsorships, I was racing off-road in both short-course and in the desert. Not only was I writing for three to five different magazines, but I was also trying to hold down a job as a professional firefighter, as well as a volunteer fire fighter in my local community. Somehow we still found time to take some extended family trips into Baja with our three daughters.
Talk about over extending myself! I would get up early in the morning, write in long hand and leave it for my devoted wife to type up on our old manual typewriter. Back in those pre-computer days it had to be placed on special copy paper. No such thing as cutting and pasting or spellcheck. Then I headed to the fire station for my 24-hour shift. In the evenings when the guys would be watching TV or playing basketball, I was in the office writing. Getting off shift I would head over to my sponsor’s shop and work on the race cars, head to an off-road shop for a story idea, or take the tractor to a jobsite and often not get home until late evening to grab a few hours of sleep and start the cycle over again.
Something had to give, and it did. I injured my back at the fire department and was forced into retirement. Racing and tractor work came to an end and a major change in lifestyle took place. I did manage to fit in a couple of long adventure trips for Four Wheeler, the Canada to Mexico “Border to Border” in 1990 and “Hoof Beats of History” in 1991, where I traced the Pony Express route. A move from Southern California to Montana took place in 1992. Now I was taking it easy and down to only writing for two magazines—Four Wheeler as well as for its biggest competitor. Soon I was asked not to write for the “other guys,” and given a monetary incentive. A few months after Jp magazine came out I was asked to work for them as well, and since it was part of the parent company, it was OK.
After quite a few years, the job with Jp came to an end and I was pretty much back to where I started, writing only for Four Wheeler. It’s been a lot of great years. I don’t think that anyone one can say they have been a continuous subscriber to Four Wheeler from Year One to the present. And how many people can say that they have been writing for a publication for as long as I have? Dates get confusing, but it’s almost 40 years since I first had a story published by Four Wheeler. I met and developed early friendships with people like Mickey Thompson, Brian Chuchua, and later with Robbie Pierce, and others who made numerous innovative changes and improvements to vehicle equipment and safety. I have survived something like five different owners, 12 different editors, and was even asked to take over the editor’s job a couple of times. Some editors have been, well, let’s just say not the best, some OK, and some great—like past editors John Stewart and Douglas McColloch. Most have pretty much given me free rein to write about what I wanted. Four Wheeler is the oldest, and in my biased opinion, the leading 4x4 publication. Trends have gone from back country camping to racing to monster trucks to show vehicles and practical build ups, and now to expeditioning. At one time we had several off-shoot publications, such as Monster Trucks, the 4x4 Answer Book and even a specialty-book sales department.
It’s been a great 50 years! Four Wheeler has allowed me to become friends with a lot of great people and to do things that others can only dream about. As I look back, I have been one lucky person to have been associated with Four Wheeler for such a long time period.