As I write this, we are barely a month away from relocating our offices from the west side of Los Angeles to some new digs a few miles to the southwest, near Los Angeles International Airport. To the best of our knowledge, it will mark the eighth time we've changed addresses since 1962, and as you might expect, after 47 years in the publishing business, we've almost forgotten how to "travel light" anymore. Not with some 60,000 pages of printed materials to haul around, and all the accompanying photos, charts, graphs, drawings, and correspondence we've stashed away over four and a half decades.
And that's not even counting the "outtakes." The hundreds of thousands of photos we've shot at various events since 1962 that never even made it into the magazine. We've been burning some midnight oil examining each and every one-sleeve after countless sleeve of them-picking out samples to save (and convert later to digital files for the Internet), and leaving others behind. And as we've assembled these items into separate "save" and "discard" piles, we've come to view our move as a rare opportunity to leave behind plenty of "excess baggage" that we frankly don't need to be hauling around anymore.
See, in the glory days of magazine publishing, when cost was of little concern and "efficiency" was a dirty word, we'd think nothing of sending three or more editors to cover every single Jamboree Nationals show, every SCORE race, every NMRO event, every monster-truck exhibition, and by the end of each show, it wouldn't be unusual for us to return home with 500 photos, or 1,000 photos, or 2,000, or even more-all for a single story in the magazine that might feature only 20 images at most. (How much money did we shell out for film processing over the years? The mind reels.) The surplus images were simply filed away, and we've been dragging them around with us for decades-several hundred pounds of slides and prints, if I had to guess-and now it's time to lighten our load.
And that's only the tip of the iceberg. We've excavated ancient log books from Four Wheeler of the Year going back 20 years or more, judges' score sheets from the first Top Truck Challenge, press kits and product catalogs going back two generations, hand-drawn cover layouts from the pre-Apple days, typewritten letters from freelancers to editors, you name it. We've always been packrats of sorts-and in a sense, that's a good thing, since it gives us a chance to pick through our inventory and pull out the most priceless items for preservation.
So while we're parting with myriad images of years' worth of races at Riverside, mud bogs in Lompoc, and hill climbs at Gravelrama-and parting is such sweet sorrow, particularly when you realize you're throwing out pieces of your own work that you'd forgotten long ago-we're making sure to keep lots of representative samples of everything we've ever covered in the magazine, as well as one-of-a-kind items you simply can't find anymore. And in the coming months we'll be scanning and re-archiving all of these materials for use at fourwheeler.com. It may take several months to complete the project, but if we have any say in the matter, you'll be able to access this treasure trove of Four Wheeler history one day from your very own desktop computer. Stay tuned for future developments-we'll let you know when it's going to roll out.